Approximately every six weeks, Six by Nico designs a new six-course menu that comes with a matching wine list, as well as an afternoon tea and appetizer for those with a sweet tooth.
This time it’s the ‘Ancient Rome’ menu which draws inspiration from Roman history and various ingredients from the places the Legion managed to conquer.
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The menu perfectly encapsulates the grandeur and richness of Roman life while accompanying unique flavors and textures that transport you to a time of conquest and intrigue.
It’s a treat even the great Caesar Augustus would enjoy had it been served at one of his luxurious banquets.
Those at Six by Nico have managed to perfectly encapsulate affordable fine dining with the ancient practices of Roman chefs by adopting the techniques of ‘Apicius’/’De re culinaria’ – considered the oldest cookbook in the western world.
Sure, the Italians will say it’s the oldest in the world, but if you search long enough, it’s often obvious that the Chinese got there first – that’s also true for this scenario.
On the menu, Six by Nico said, “We invite you to experience a historically appropriate menu that has been inspired by ancient traditions and interpreted through modern delights. “Ancient Rome”, will pay homage to the origins of the foods we know and even enjoy today. From ancient recipes to the use of ancient ingredients widely used in the modern world.
“Our chefs have spent hours reading the ‘Apicius’, or ‘De re culinaria’ – coined the oldest cookbook in the world – to come up with dishes that not only take you back in a snap to ancient Rome , but also transport you to ancient Rome.
“Are you ready to immerse yourself in “Ancient Rome”? »
Now that was the key question, were we ready to discover the culinary genius that is always in the spotlight in the friendly and warm restaurant downtown?
Yes, of course we were!
So to make sure we can give a faithful representation of the menu, we decided to order everything like the little greedy pigs that we are.
Now the menu is split into two components. You have the full six course tasting menu priced at £32 and alongside that a pairing wine menu for £27.
It should be noted that we were looking at non-vegetarian options, but there were vegetarian alternatives with each item.
First, the snack and appetizer combo.
The snack consisted of freshly baked spelled bread, tapenade of olives and extra virgin olive oil, artichoke fritti and anchovy emulsion.
The tapenade was to die for and you could eat it on the spelled bread all day, every day.
But the artichoke fritti were the real hero of the show, they tasted moreish and could easily supplant pigs in blankets like the food you love to shovel greedily down your throat.
Then there was the aperitif, the ‘Posca Spritz’ – it’s a play on a traditional honey wine that was iconic in Rome and often consumed before dinner.
We were told that the grapes grown around the Mediterranean in Roman times were not as sweet as the ones we have now so honey was often added to sweeten the experience. It was very refreshing.
Then come the starters.
The first was Cacio e Pepe, made with crispy pasta, black pepper and royal parmesan.
This dish was rich but had the perfect balance of textures as well as historical context. Because elements of the dish served as light snacks to the Romans while they went about their business.
Next comes the second entrée, titled Eggs to Nuts, which consists of white asparagus, crispy duck eggs, hazelnuts and brown butter.
It was delicious with the crispy duck egg resembling a fancy scotch egg without the meat – I can say I’m not a pro-fine diner. The taste was rich but the dish was light.
Accompanying this dish was the first of the white wines to come, the Aeus, Ribeiro Do, which was from the Bodegas Campante Galicia region of Spain.
It cuts ideally with the flavors of the starter and that comes from a non-white wine drinker like me.
Next, we have the fan-favorite dish, but the one dish that I personally wasn’t thrilled with. Cavolo Hispi Arrostito, made with roasted hispi cabbage, cavatelli pasta, marinated chanterelles, truffle mousse and pecorino sardo.
The cabbage in this dish is interesting because it relates to a time when wealthy Romans traveled to Lazio near Turin to indulge in extravagant dinner parties.
Cabbage was believed to keep people from getting drunk – which is certainly not true as we ran into our taxi on the way home from our meal.
The dish was strong and bold with its flavors. The truffle and black garlic pass, which was personally a little too much for me, but if that’s your kind of thing, I’m sure this will tick your boxes.
As mentioned above, I am a peasant with a peasant palace.
Another white wine accompanied the dish, Duas Margens from Douro, Portugal. It was fine for a white and matched the dish perfectly. However, there is some controversy as to whether the Romans ever reached Portugal, which, had they not, certainly would have been the case with their culture.
Then there was the sector.
The Bay of Naples was the first to come out of the main course and course four on the menu. This consisted of sole, smoked mussels, lovage, white turnip and cream of mussels.
Now, after eating this dish, I wholeheartedly believe that the seafood at Six by Nico is better than that found in the easters of the lost city of Atlantis. I don’t know how they do it, but the flavors are always there and the fish is super fresh. Cheer!
Along with this dish was a white wine, Frascati Superiore DOCG, from the Lazio region of Italy. He washed seafood like I had never tasted before. I imagine even a big grizzly bear would enjoy a drink while devouring fish from the local river.
Now let’s move on to the best dish on the menu, the AD14 grand feast consisting of pork belly, tenderloin and chop with fennel, bean, date and apple ragout.
AD 14 was the year Tiberius succeeded Caesar Augustus and therefore the dish has no connection to the great famine that hit China that year.
Nevertheless, the different flavors of the pork were exquisite. The pork belly melted in your mouth, the meat just slipped off the bone and the tenderloin…oh my days.
The bean stew came with chunks of pork which honestly was a delight in itself. Then there was the date apple and the fennel which just matched the pork every step of the way. Exceptional.
If I ever kill someone in the state of Florida, then I want this to be my last meal on death row.
With that came a special red wine, one that had been created with this dish in mind. The chef waited to serve us the wine until we finished the previous white as the flavor changed drastically once you ate the pork.
It was an amazing experience to taste this gorgeous earthy red and feel it transform after your first bite of pork. They are magicians.
Last but not least is the dessert. This one was called Honey and Cheese and was made with a honey parfait, ricotta, candied quince, sparkling muscat grapes, pears and citrus.
It took so much thought to build this dish to get the perfect combination in place. Every bite and texture was a new journey for the taste buds and even for someone with such a simple palette I could appreciate what was on offer here.
The desert wine, L’arcano, primitivo igt dolce, from Puglia in Italy, was also well matched but like all desert wines it was a bit sweet for my taste.
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Overall they delivered once again.
Special touches were appreciated with Nico offering diners a cookbook of the dishes as well as a Roman type document containing the menu.
A sign of immense confidence from Nico to distribute his own recipes. Although he knows it well, we could never match his culinary genius.
The menu will run from March 15 to April 24, 2022 and anyone wishing to make a reservation at the Hanover Street restaurant or elsewhere in the UK can do it here.