This article appears as part of the Food Matters newsletter.

“Are you aware that you’re almost a full ten minutes late?” a character with a flaming red wig, top hat and green velvet suit asks sternly as I shuffle sheepishly towards the door.

I am in fact, well aware, having just stormed the walk from Glasgow Central Station to Merchant City all the while cursing myself for losing track of time on a lazy Saturday afternoon.

Alas, any hopes of slinking discreetly to a table have been dashed by the Mad Hatter who has been tasked with guarding the door to the shiny new Six by Nico on Albion Street.

Nothing like a bit of public ridicule to have you vowing never to leave the house so late again.

Thankfully, this not-so-warm welcome is all part of the fun rather than a serious telling-off and a nod to the first foodie theme chosen for the launch of a new flagship restaurant from the Six Company.

After almost three years of reporting on Glasgow’s food and drink scene, I’m no stranger to the Six by Nico concept from chef Nico Simeone and likely don’t need to explain their ever-changing tasting menu to any of you either.

The Herald:
Still, today promises new beginnings, with a fresh look reportedly heralding in a "new phase" for the local restaurant brand whose heart seems set on world domination, one plateful of flavoured gel and emulsions at a time.

The new space certainly feels like the next step in an evolution that has already seen them expand across the UK, with woody interiors inspired by the area's history of wealthy ‘tobacco lords’ and their opulent homes.

It’s sleek, with an open kitchen and considerably more room than their very first Argyle Street location, which is soon to be transformed into a fish-focused venture named Sole Club.

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There is a nagging feeling that a little of the original Six by Nico magic has been lost in the move, with a noticeably less intimate atmosphere and suspicions that the race is on to reset for the next lot of diners.

Nonetheless, the team is in fine form with a menu that’s full of the theatre that we’ve come to expect from Simeones’s more playful themes.

The menus that sit on our table are rice paper and totally edible, a fact pointed out to us by the Mad Hatter who now seems to have been won over by profuse apologies and compliments on her enviable make-up skills.

More substantial courses to follow include a succulent rabbit, chicken and date ballotine and pork belly with a moreish pig’s head croquette and apple gel.

The Herald:

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The dessert of heart-shaped white chocolate mousse wrapped around red velvet cake with an oozing raspberry centre proves to be the hero of this storybook dinner.

No matter what this ‘new phase’ means for Six by Nico, the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party experience is full of fun and suitable demonstration of the calibre of fine-dining-on-a-budget dishes that first gained them notoriety in Glasgow.

Next time, I’ll be sure to arrive early.

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party Menu is being served now at Six by Nico Merchant City at 84-86 Albion Street.

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