We didn’t have a working doorbell until last year.
There was no need, since nobody ever dropped by unexpectedly and I rarely shopped online or ordered takeaway.
If anyone did turn up, they’d usually knock for a bit, rattle the letterbox, grumble and give up.
Nowadays, that £7.99 purchase is the best thing we own. When it rings – the sound sweeter than Yehudi Menuhin’s violin – I Agadoo to the door. Push pineapple, turn the snib.
I did this when our Home by Nico from Six by Nico delivery arrived.
As instructed, we’d ordered a week in advance, for delivery on Friday or Saturday from 10am-6pm. To take advantage, you must live within a five mile radius of their venues on Glasgow’s Argyle Street or Edinburgh’s Hanover Street.
It’s strange to think of all the fantastical pre-covid Six by Nico concepts – Alice in Wonderland, Guilty Pleasure, Illusion –which inspired the menus they’d serve.
Perhaps now it would be zeitgeisty to do House Arrest, with oven chips and out-of-date packet noodles, or Loungewear, featuring white food, so you wouldn’t wreck your favourite pyjamas or sweatshirt.
Rather than six courses, Home by Nico is four courses for four people, to be used within three days. There didn’t seem to be any theme as far as I can tell.
There is cooking/reheating involved, and each box comes with instructions, a list of allergens and the £82 price includes a bottle of wine (ours featured The Rambler White).
However, there isn’t an actual menu as such, so we weren’t quite sure what was in our starter of four palm-sized pithiviers, which turned from beige to rust after 20 minutes in our shonky oven. These surprise pastry pinatas seemed to contain a fluffy pulp of sweet potato, a mild and crumbly white cheese and shreds of what looked like wild garlic.
The main course was based around a huge and whole corn fed chicken, to be roasted à la casa. It was a quality beast, bouncily soft, like a floatation aid, and marinated in a citrusy mixture.
If there had been more than two of us sharing a meal for four, we might have felt hard done by when it came to the neat side portion of gruyere-topped potato gratin, with a cheese to potato ratio that was almost equal. I would fight dirty for this. Straight for the sticks and stones. Go for the eyes.
I suppose if you didn’t win the spoils, the booby prize was a large and shareable slab of decent focaccia.
We also got some uniformly diced roast veggies, including beetroot, carrot, swede and parsnip, a container of dry mixed salad leaves – rocket and its ilk – and a pot of terracotta-coloured harissa yogurt, which could have been a pithivier accompaniment, but was very good with the chicken.
I’m sure you could plate all this up prettily, for some kind of date night or birthday shenanigan, but we bunged as much as we could on our dishes like some bad home economics project that’s guaranteed to get a D.
Next was the spongy cake. It was a comforting treat, to be baked in its metal takeaway container, with a thin layer of orange and treacle at the bottom, which caramelized in the oven. This came with a transfusion-style bag of crème Anglaise, which we would have liked more of, so we could eke out the remaining cake.
The final element was a cheese course. We’d been sent a slab of the fantastically creamy brie Baron Bigod, not to be confused with Johnny B Goode. There were accessories too – a large pack of charcoal crackers and a plastic ramekin of chunky fruity chutney.
Anyway, excellent effort from Six by Nico.
In common with all restaurants right now, I feel they’re on a fierce learning trajectory.
We were on their second weekend of home delivery and, as lockdown and its permutations go on, I’m sure they’ll regain a bit of their quirky signature.
It might not be an Alice in Wonderland sort of time, but the weekend after me, they were back on the themes, with Catalonia.
Count me in. Ring my bell. n
97 Hanover Street, Edinburgh (www.sixbynico.co.uk)