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  • Ruari Sutherland

Six By Nico - Hanoi menu offers eastern promise

Cod, Coconut & Coriander Chutney, Vietnamese Curry, Bok Choy, Bánh Đa

Six By Nico has built a near cult following since the doors swung open for the first time in Glasgow in 2017. Nico Simeone has seized upon a smart concept - delivering a new themed six course menu every six weeks - and the brand has since expanded to serve from nine premises in seven cities. The latest menu promises to transport the diner to Hanoi - the frenetic capital of Vietnam - over the course of an aperitivo, snacks, six expertly curated dishes, and matched wines. My dining partner and I are lucky enough to be invited to the menu launch at Simeone's charitable restaurant, Beat 6, in Glasgow's Dennistoun. The venue is chic, and understated, and donates 100% of the profit made to the Beatson Cancer Charity. I wanted to love this menu, and I was excited at the prospect, but when it comes down to it, the food is hit or miss. Drinks are poised and classy, and a sweet and sour aperitivo matches Rhum with a Muscat dessert wine and punchy lime leaf, lemongrass and ginger. The wine pairings are well considered, with complementary tipples from Hungary, Italy, Romania, and Australia. The knowledgeable and charming 'wine technician' talks us through each glass, giving life to the liquid. Smoked beef and bone marrow broth (Bún Bo) achieves heady depth of flavour, spiking slippery noodles with fresh mint and coriander. A shellfish foam (Bún Riêu), is similarly intense, though perhaps overpowers the avocado and grapefruit swimming in its depths. Dessert is a triumph. Classic techniques are well executed to produce a toasted rice and palm sugar delice (Bánh Trôi). Flavours are clean and well balanced, with sweet delice, bitter kumquat, and sour lime. The rest of the menu is underwhelming, feeling at the same time overcomplicated and unrefined. snacks provide something to nibble alongside our aperitivo, but what appears to be a cup of peanut butter (billed as a peanut dip) sets the tone here. Crispy prawns arrive in an under seasoned batter atop a spring roll wrapped in thick chewy pastry. Tamarind glazed chicken pairs succulent breast with dry chewy shreds of leg. Cod is fine, but not redolent of traditionally Vietnamese flavours. On the whole, we are underwhelmed by a menu which promises so much, but falls short of delivering. Much of the food here would be served from single-dish hawker stalls and sweaty back alley cafes in Hanoi. This is their natural habitat, and where they shine. Something fundamental is lost in translation to the classically trained restaurant kitchen. Having said that, I'd like to think that the kinks will be ironed out in due course, and that some of the issues are symptomatic of launch night nerves. We still had a lovely evening. The service was friendly and the atmosphere enjoyable, the wine was excellent, and on occasion the food shone.

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