The Alchemist - Restaurant Review
Best known for their molecular mixology but let's talk about the gastronomy...
So if you’ve ever heard of The Alchemist, I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind is science class cocktails, liquid nitrogen and loads of smoke. While that’s exciting and I can enjoy a good cocktail, I think it’s time to give some credit to their delicious food!
I’m happy to be writing this review since this isn’t my first visit (Manchester New York St) so I feel like my opinion on this spot is now very solid. They have a few locations in the UK so be sure to check if this one is in your city!
If we’re talking vibes, it’s definitely my kinda spot (I say this for any places that pleases me, not that I’m easily pleased LOL). The ambience and feel of the room is mysterious, cool, but not intimidating. Although you walk into dim lights and a pretty dark space, it’s lit up by the amazing colours of what I assume to be potions at the bar.
I love that there’s a semi open kitchen where you can see the grill light up the room in flames and it totally goes with the medusa looking demons intricately carved onto the walls. I’m all for the decor and mystic vibes. We’ll give them top scores for ambiance and decor.
With a place like this I know it’s very easy to be wowed by the cocktails, so before you get too drunk to actually pick out some great food, I’m here to help. I’ve been on a few occasions and I can already say I have a few favourites and I’ll be back to try something new (which is a lot coming from a picky eater like myself).
(First things first, we ordered glasses of Prosecco because… why not?)
I never go for one dish because I like to sample a little of everything, decided to go for three starters: Salt and pepper squid, BBQ chicken wings & vegetable gyozas. I annoyingly forgot to write down the prices for each dish, it’s not available on their site either so I’ll say around £7 for each starter (don’t quote me, it may differ at your location)
I always judge a restaurant by their calamari or squid and I must say, hats off to The Alchemist because they really did deliver. Crispy, tender and melt in your mouth squid which was seasoned perfectly. Accompanied by a silky zingy mayo which I couldn’t get enough of. Extremely moreish and not greasy, portion was a little small but luckily we had more than one starter on the table. Pieces of squid were cut into healthy sizes too so I’ll give a 4.7⁄5 .
The vegetable gyozas were good but could do with a little more vareity in terms of fillings, I loved the colour but all I could taste was cabbage. The dipping sauce though….BOMB. Elevated the gyozas to new heights, without the sauce I don’t think I’d be too happy with the gyozas. I’ll give them a score of 3.9⁄5.
I usually don’t go for chicken but the first time I visited I ordered the ‘#1 Social Platter’ which included BBQ wings amongst other delicious bites and I absolutely had to order them again. Crispy glazed outside with moist, juicy and tender chicken on the inside. BBQ glaze isn’t too sweet either, right level of spice and finger licking good. They’re served in a cone which is quite cute. 4.5⁄5.
For ‘The Main Event’ as they titled it on the menu, I ordered the Deconstructed Lamb Kebab (rump and shoulder) that was served with houmous, harissa & rice, also a cute toasted disk of pitta. This dish was absoloutely delicious, with perfectly cooked fluffy and well seasoned rice. I was surprised that the houmous wasn’t too heavy of an addition to the dish. Lamb was cooked pink (to my liking), although could’ve done with a little more seasoning. Hidden underneath were crispy surprises of what I believe to be braised lamb that was shredded then seared. The herb oil, harissa and pomegrante added not only a beautiful colour but an earthy aroma and pop of flavour that really completed the dish. My only nitpic is that I couldn’t find the kebab part, I expected a bit more spice on the lamb or perhaps some smokeyness from cooking like a kebab but rather it was just a well cooked piece of lamb. Nonetheless, I devoured the entire dish, 4.7⁄5.
My lovely friend ordered the chicken katsu which I also had a taste of, crispy juicy panko crusted chicken breast. The addition of crispy kale was so yummy. I’m usually not a fan of kale but I am definitely developing a recipe for the crispy kind. It didn’t have that gnarly chew that the usual steamed or stir fried kale does (to me). The curry sauce also had levels of flavour to it and I appreciated it being served in a jug rather than over the dish, the way traditional Katsu curry is served, that way the chicken stays crisp and everyone is happy. My friend also devoured her meal, so a healthy 4.8⁄5.
I’m doing drinks before dessert because that’s the order in which we had it lmao. I’m sure you guys want to hear about the cocktails. I’m old school so I got a Classic Mojito. I’ve had a fair share opf mojitos in my time and although they are about the lime, I found this one a little unbalanced. Could’ve done with a little more sugar, little less lime, couple more sprigs of mint and it would’ve been perfect.
My girly got ‘Chasing the rainbow’ which, I don’t know why we assumed the cocktail would come looking like a rainbow. It was pink, which made us laugh, just a heap of grapefruit. My girl asking if there’s any alcohol in it should tell you the rest about that one….meh
I don’t have much of a sweet tooth but after seeing churros on the menu and my girl had never had churros before, I gasped and so we had to go get some. Dulce de leche filled churros, cinnamon sugar coating, chocolate dipping sauce? The look on my girls face gives this one a 5⁄5.
Overall, an absolutely delightful and satisfying meal. The vibe, music, service was of a great standard and I left feeling fully satisfied. I was especially impressed with the plating and just how much care was taken into making the dishes refined, especially for a chain restaurant. So go give their dinner menu a chance, of course enjoy drinks but the food deserves all the respect too! I think this’ll be a new chill spot for me, perhaps a nice place to catch up with friends or for a calm night and extravagant cocktail when I’m in the mood for it!
Food:** **4.5 ⁄5
Service: 5 ⁄5
Value for money: 4.5 ⁄5
Atmosphere:** **5 ⁄5
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