January is the month for making and breaking resolutions. It’s the time for being healthy and as Bridget Jones said “we are all supposed to snap into self-discipline like lean teenage greyhounds”. Not fair. Jan is not my jam. If, like me, you’re craving some warm, cosy, comfort food, I’ve found your new favourite haunt. After the success of 111 by Nico and the two Six by Nico restaurants, Chef Nico Simeone has now opened his new restaurant, Public House by Nico.
We went on a dreich Sunday in January. It wasn’t Blue Monday eve but it certainly felt like it. We peeled our coats off and settled into our table for two. The interior was cosy and familiar with its wooden floor, tartan furnishings, and candle-lit tables. I always feel like I’m entering Nico’s world when I go to one of his restaurants, you feel like you’re part of a theatre production, and everyone’s playing a role. So, today Matthew, I’m going to be a humble pub goer.
Located on Great Western Road, the menu is full of small plates inspired by your favourite pub grub. There’s everything from steaming fresh fish pie to crispy pigs head to chestnut gnocchi. The drinks menu looked equally as scrumptious, I went for a glass of red wine (the ultimate Sunday companion) and my “partner in dine” (see what I did there) chose a red ale. The red ale was much darker than expected and looked very much like a stout, and it was tasty. Love a tasty beer.
We settled in and realised it was after 5pm and the roast menu was served “every Sunday 12 noon to 5pm”. No fear, we would choose from the small plates menu. However, when our waitress came to take our order she happily informed us that the roast was still on (!!!) and we could have that if we wanted. Yes, yes, a million times YES. I ordered the Roast Speyside Sirloin, and my “partner in dine” ordered the Bone in Ayrshire Pork Chop which comes with apple sauce. Both are served with Yorkshire puddings, beef dripping roast potato, roasted root vegetables, roasting juices, and cauliflower cheese. To say we were excited was an understatement.
We waited patiently, chatting away, and enjoying the ambience, and the cool music playing through the speakers. Then the food came, and holy smokes, what a meal we had ordered. I can only apologise for the poor quality images of my dinner. Trust me when I say that the meat was tender, the roasties fluffy, the vegetables tasty, and the Yorkshire pud one of the best I’ve ever had (and that’s coming from a Yorkshire lass). The cauliflower cheese was the surprise hit for me. It came in its own dish to be shared between us, and it was cheesy (but not too cheesy) and deliciously comforting. I could’ve happily had a portion of it on its own. I managed to swipe a bit of pork and it was the most tender pork I’ve ever had. Forget the dry stuff you usually find, this literally melted in your mouth.
Now then, I have another apology to make. We weren’t finished. Nope, no, nah. We ordered desserts. You can’t get a Sunday roast then not get a dessert, especially if one of the desserts on the menu is sticky toffee pudding. For me, this dessert harks back to childhood, pub lunches in the dales, and most recently Nigella Lawson’s sticky toffee pudding at a friend’s dinner party, which totally changed my life. STP just encapsulates everything a Sunday should entail; being cosy, relaxing with someone you actually like, and eating your weight in carbs and comfort food so your body feels like it’s giving you a hug. Anywho, my apology starts now, there is no photographic evidence of the pud as it lasted approximately 60 seconds on my plate. My partner in dine also had a similar situation with his treacle tart and apple ice cream. Nothing to see here. Apple ice cream, by the way, is a revelation, I don’t know how Nico’s done it, but he’s made something beautiful, and I want more of it in my life.