Review: Six by Nico, Birmingham
December 17, 2023

[Disclosure: I was invited to review Six by Nico shortly after it opened in Birmingham]

The words ‘tasting menu’ tend to be synonymous with big-spend meals. Not always, I’ll admit, but often. Which is why pretty much every review you read of Six by Nico will talk about its affordability and amazing value. How could you not, when a six-course tasting menu of pretty darn good quality is priced at just £39.

Yes. £39. That’s not a Black Friday deal, a December deal, or any kind of other deal designed to lure you in. It’s a key part of the success that has seen Nico Simeone’s Six by Nico grow from one restaurant in Glasgow to more than ten across the UK. The rest of the concept is simple: A six-course tasting menu, that changes every six weeks. Usually based on a destination, or a theme, but ever-changing, so you can go back again and again with your £39 in your sweaty little mitt and enjoy good food without needing a new mortgage.

It’s appealing, and intriguing. After all, we hear a lot at the moment at how menu prices simply have to rise because restaurants can no longer foot the bill when they’re dealing with spiralling costs themselves, whether it’s ingredients, energy or staffing. A menu this cheap would have been attractive years ago, but now more than ever it almost sounds too good to be true.

Six by Nico Birmingham
Six by Nico Birmingham
Six by Nico menu
Six by Nico Birmingham

Until now, you’d have had to add on the cost of petrol or a train fare to get you to one of Six by Nico’s locations scattered around the country. But now Birmingham has got its very own – quite right too, given it’s got a food scene that more than holds its own with all the other cities that have already got one.

It’s on Colmore Row, and is unsurprisingly pretty swish. Low lighting, slick decor, music that could have you thinking you’re in more of a bar than a restaurant, until you’re led from the bar area into the restaurant to see the army of staff turning out plate after plate of what looks like food that should definitely cost more than £39 for six courses.

The theme for Brum at the moment is ‘The Chippie’ – dishes inspired by our beloved chip shops and one of the more playful fine dining-style menus I’ve had I reckon. Apparently it was the first menu Simeone put on in Glasgow, and a tribute to his grandparents who owned a chip shop. Nice, then, that we get it as the first menu in Birmingham. Ironically,

Bread and butter Six by Nico

Me and my pal dodge the matching wine flight – which is as reasonable as the food at just £30 extra, and opt for a single glass each. But we can’t resist adding some extra snacks on. Because who can say no to sourdough with shellfish butter, or indeed a scotch egg.

They might sound pedestrian, but these snacks set the tone for the quality of the food we’re about to have. The shellfish butter is black thanks to squid ink, and has a rich fishyness that sets the tone for the fish-themed meal to come. The Scotch egg is a triumph, but it’s the homemade brown sauce that steals the show, piquant and tangy, cutting through the richness of the meat and jammy egg yolk.

Scotch egg six by nico

Our first proper course is ‘chips and cheese’. A single cube of crispy potato terrine covered in a pile of parmesan, served with a bowl of light, airy parmesan espuma that has your spoon dipping back in at a worrying pace. Hints of chip shop curry sauce comes courtesy of a curry oil and emulsion, and there’s extra crunch that reminds us both of the childhood delights of scraps from the chippie. It’s an opener that has us both smiling in delight, and excited for what is to come.

Six by Nico

Six by NIco

‘Scampi’ is worlds apart from the cheap watery nonsense you get served with the same name in so many places these days. It’s the refined friend of traditional scampi, a golden-breadcrumbed brandade served on top of Six by Nico’s version of a gribiche, full of the refreshing tang of capers and herbs, and sweet, podgy little peas. It’s delicate but more of the balance of textures and flavours we’ve seen in course one.

Six by Nico course three

The ‘steak pie’ that forms course three is a far cry from a Pukka pie. The 24-hour cooked beef shin is fall-apart, there’s earthy mushroom, a sweet, tangy burnt onion ketchup and something they call a ‘meaty salsa’ that brings more beefy goodness. It’s great, and reminds us that our beloved chippies are about so much more than just fish and chips.

Yet as lovely as it is, it’s ‘fish supper’ that has us reaching for the ‘course of the night’ trophy. Like the preceding course, it’s unrecognisable as the dish it mimics – no slab of battered cod here. Yet somehow it has all the same flavour and evokes the same joy as simple fish and chips.

Six by Nico


Six by Nico

Scrabster coley – the cheapest of the cod family – topped with those delicious crispy, fatty, battery scraps but elevated to fine dining level with confit fennel with that little lick of liquorice, pickled mussels, salty samphire and a beer emulsion. I’m fairly sure even if you weren’t told the title of this course you’d say it reminded you of a Friday night fish supper, and isn’t that the whole point?

The ‘Smoked Sausage’ course was the theatrical moment of the night – a glass cloche filled with smoke lifted off ceremoniously at the table to reveal a trio of pork, with salt-baked celeriac, choucroute and the obligatory crackling. An Instagrammer’s dream, no doubt (except this one who can’t work a phone enough to capture it without it being a foggy mess), but not my favourite of the night.

Each element is great – the sausage roll-style element and the celeriac in particular, and a welcome freshness comes thanks to the chocroute – but it doesn’t have us waxing lyrical in the same way some of the fish courses have. Maybe that’s a subconscious thing, given that we came craving fish, but we agree the fish supper still retains the title.

Six by Nico

Until the dessert maybe, whose title is enough to get your mouth watering. Because even if you’ve never had a battered Mars Bar like I haven’t, the idea has universal appeal to most of us gluttons. Yet it’s not this sphere of battered gooeyness that steals the show – it’s the life-changing Irn Bru sorbet that both of us consider starting a campaign to get produced by the tub within a moment of having the first mouthful. A brilliant idea, perfectly executed, and a great bit of tangy freshness alongside the chocolate pave. Six by Nico dessert

The food is good – and greater for the fact it’s such a bargain. My intrigue as to how this can possibly be viable has also been answered. I may be wrong, but it seems to me the key to Six by Nico’s success is volume – and that means speed.

The courses come thick and fast. As soon as your spoon is set down, your plate will be whisked away and you’ve got about enough time for a chat about it before the next one arrives. It’s a slick efficient system, but you can feel the pace. And once you’re done, there is no lingering at the table, and you may even get a polite reminder that you need to be off, because the next people are arriving.

It’s not rude, and it’s not ridiculously rushed, but it is fast. If you’re planning a lazy, drawn-out dinner, this is not the place. For that, you’ll have to go somewhere else where a tasting menu will probably set you back more than double what you’ll pay here. No big deal, and it’s completely understandable in order to make such a concept a success – but I reckon it’s good to know what you’re going into and plan accordingly.

Six by Nico is an affordable, accessible way of getting your chops round a tasting menu of decent food at an unbelievable prices right in the heart of Birmingham. It means that people who might not ordinarily be able to stretch to an experience like this get to try it, and for that reason I’m totally here for it.

But when things are unbelievably cheap, something usually has to give. Here, it’s the luxuriating in an experience that you might get in other places. If that’s what you’re after, then you might be better going to those other places. But if you want good food at a more-than-reasonable price, with slick service, and are happy to be in and out fairly swiftly, then get yourself down to Six by Nico.