We join the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party at Six by Nico in Birmingham - here’s our verdict

Affordable fine dining restaurant Six by Nico on Colmore Row is serving up a Mad Hatter’s Tea party for its latest six course tasting menu
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It's been quite a while since I’ve read Alice in Wonderland, but distant memories of a fantasy world filled with weird and wonderful adventures stirred as I noted the latest menu at Six by Nico.

The affordable fine dining restaurant - which launched on Colmore Row in Birmingham just before Christmas - serves a six course tasting menu based on a new theme every six weeks, for the impressively good value price of £39.

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And the current theme is a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, which sounded very intriguing. Should we prepare for an evening of mayhem? Were the dining rules of the day about to be broken in a most shocking manner?

We arrived at the restaurant for our 9pm booking on a Wednesday evening. And it certainly was no rabbit hole. Six by Nico is a super plush spot. Rustic orange seating lines the bar area surrounded by decadent drop curtains when you enter. The staff are so welcoming - there’s a real live energy around the room. Subtle lighting adds to the aura.

Despite the mid-week late-ish hour, the venue was full - with cheery chatter from the guests adding to the fun atmosphere. We were seated by the open kitchen area where the busy chefs were at work, all looking like they were enjoying themselves as they cooked up the tea party feast.

Six by Nico Mad Hatter's Tea Party Queen of Hearts dessertSix by Nico Mad Hatter's Tea Party Queen of Hearts dessert
Six by Nico Mad Hatter's Tea Party Queen of Hearts dessert

The restaurant had invited us to follow the white rabbit into a world of whimsy and delight, along with the Queen of Hearts and Cheshire Cat. With such mystery awaiting us, we decided it was wise to begin our adventures with a cocktail. There were three options: gin, vodka and rum. They all sounded great, but me and my friend both opted for The Keyhole made with JJ Whitley Artisanal Vodka, Briottet Cranberry Liqueur, Lemon and Soda (£9.50).

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Well, it was a magical start. The cranberry kick to the smooth vodka was a triumph, cool and sharp - without being overpowering.  We also decided to include the wine pairing option for our dinner with the Mad Hatter, with five glasses of 100ml served from course two (£30) - our waitress explained.

Before we knew it our first course had arrived, and we were met with our first weird and wonderful encounter. This was a dish of mushroom tea served with a cheese scone made with Keens Cheddar topped with smoked bacon jam, truffle parmesan royale and pickled walnut.

Mushroom Tea at Six by Nico's Mad Hatter's Tea PartyMushroom Tea at Six by Nico's Mad Hatter's Tea Party
Mushroom Tea at Six by Nico's Mad Hatter's Tea Party

The mushroom tea was pleasantly warm and full of flavour. A light watery liquid, just like a herbal tea without milk. I used a spoon rather than drinking from the bowl. The scone was tasty too.

Course two was called The White Rabbit, and we were served rabbit meat with chicken and date in a ballotine along with beef fat roasted carrot, tarragon pest, rabbit bolognese and carrot ketchup. 

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It was an inventive dish. Bit more on the weird side than the wonderful, with the rabbit meat. My friend wasn’t so keen, but I found the dish quite tasty, especially the ballotine.

 

The White Rabbit at Six by Nico's Mad Hatter's Tea PartyThe White Rabbit at Six by Nico's Mad Hatter's Tea Party
The White Rabbit at Six by Nico's Mad Hatter's Tea Party

The meat was moist and tasty with the carrot ketchup adding a wholesome edge. The tarragon pesto was gorgeous. I’m not sure I’d make a habit out of eating rabbit, though. Our wine was a Romance Spumante Brut from Italy and our waitress explained the pairing perfectly. It added a fizzy zest to the dish.

Next up was Paint the Roses Red. We were back onto wonderful territory for this one. It looked as pretty as a picture and consisted of goats cheese mousseline, baby beetroot, garden radish, kalamata olive soil and red apple caramel.

What a feast of so many delicious ingredients. The goats cheese was oh so smooth alongside the lovely baby beetroot. Our wine was Sauvignon Langhe DOC Tra Donne Sole, also from Italy. It was more mellow than I expected and was a fabulous accompaniment.

Paint the Roses Red at Six by Nico's Mad Hatter's Tea PartyPaint the Roses Red at Six by Nico's Mad Hatter's Tea Party
Paint the Roses Red at Six by Nico's Mad Hatter's Tea Party
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Next up was Eat Me, Drink Me! A fish course inspired by the famous fairytale. It was another wonder, yet thankfully we didn’t turn into giants! We ate roasted black pollock, miso glaze, bonito emulsion, white turnip puree, pickled Tokyo Turning with Dashi Broth poured from an ornate urn for a touch of theatrics.

The pollock was gorgeous and it was nice to try a few different takes on turnip. This was served with Chardonnay Piemonte DOC Spumante Brut. I’ve not drunk many sparkling Chardonnays so it was a nice option to test - but maybe my least favourite of the wines.

Eat Me! Drink Me at Six by Nico's Mad Hatter's Tea PartyEat Me! Drink Me at Six by Nico's Mad Hatter's Tea Party
Eat Me! Drink Me at Six by Nico's Mad Hatter's Tea Party

And before we knew it we had arrived at Course 5, called Off With Its Head! We were back to on the weird side for this one - and the dish I was least looking forward to, because it included Pig Head Croquette. I’m not a fan of offal, but was up for giving it a go - it’s always good to try something new and this was a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party after all. The Pig Head Croquette was served alongside pork belly, choucroute, apple gel, cauliflower and sauce charcuterie. 

The pork belly was delish - although a tad dry, it was still enjoyable. This was my least favourite of the six dishes, but as luck would have it, the plate was served alongside my most favourite of all the wines - a Carménère Reserve Flor de Vina, the only red in the flight, from Chile. It was full of bold body and richness.

Off With His Head! At Six by Nico's Mad Hatter's Tea PartyOff With His Head! At Six by Nico's Mad Hatter's Tea Party
Off With His Head! At Six by Nico's Mad Hatter's Tea Party
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And before we knew it, we had arrived at the final course - Queen of Hearts. Well, what I can say, this really was the most wonderful of all. One of the most delicious desserts I have ever eaten. It was a white chocolate mousse, red velvet cake encased in pecan brittle and served with raspberries. So beautifully creamy, the red coating so perfect. What a wonderful way to end our experience.

Six by Nico is a fantastic addition to Birmingham’s dining scene. A real fun way to enjoy some fine dining without breaking the bank. I love the fancy Michelin restaurants, but they aren’t somewhere I could afford to eat on a regular basis, and this is a fab place to try some new dishes without breaking the bank.

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