The Alchemist, Gunwharf | Restaurant review

As the nights are long and the days getting colder, Dish Detective has been looking for more than just a meal – rather an entire experience to occupy an evening.

Wednesday, 17th November 2021, 3:26 pm
The Alchemist, Gunwharf Quays.

Overlooking the Gunwharf Canal and the newly set up Christmas village, The Alchemist could be just the ticket.

It's a venue well known for its drinks, and for good reason. As the name suggests, its expert mixologists create magical potion-like beverages complete with dry ice and colourful liquids. But tonight Dish Detective is more interested in the food.

The Alchemist’s interior is what you'd expect from a contemporary bar and restaurant. Furnishings are charming yet sleek, with the bar being the focal point of the ground floor.

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Some of the food enjoyed by the Dish Detective at The Alchemist.

A friendly member of staff directs us to a table in a conservatory-type structure at the front of the building, giving us uninterrupted views of the twinkling lights outside.

There is a separate menu for drinks and food, with cocktails divided into categories such as chemistry and theatre, and light and dreamy.

It would be remiss to come to a venue such as this and not order at least one boozy drink so while we ponder the food we are presented with two impressive cocktails. One, simply named The Colour Changing One (£8.50), is made with Grey Goose vodka, Briottet apple, soda, citrus and dry ice. It is presented as a kind of do-it-yourself concoction, with two components to pour into the glass.

Food at The Alchemist.

Before adding the second flask the liquid appears clear but once complete it does indeed change to a dusky lilac. And to add to the drama the dry ice gives the drink a smoking appearance. It is refreshing and sweet – mainly because of the apple. Like all good cocktails though it is far too easy to drink quickly and doesn’t last long.

The other drink, The Lightbulb Moment (£9), is even more delicious. Comprising Tanqueray gin, Pimm’s, ginger beer, raspberry, lemon and mint it’s a tastebuds’ treat. It too uses dry ice for that wow factor.

Choosing a meal takes a period of even longer deliberation. There are a lot more options than Dish Detective had first imagined. It’s a cliché but there is something for everyone, with a menu that includes standard bar fare such as burgers and fish and chips, as well as Asian-inspired dishes like katsu curry, spring rolls and Buddha bowls, and Mexican dishes.

Dish Detective is particularly intrigued by the selection of starters and opts for two of them rather than one large dish – the tempura tenderstem broccoli bao buns (£7.25) and the cauliflower cheese tacos (£6). Both are delicious.

Alchemy in a glass.

The bao buns are light and fluffy with the crunchy broccoli contrasting nicely. They are flavoured with mayonnaise, sriracha, spring onions and chilli giving it a fresh yet spicy taste.

Despite being starter portions they are filling on their own. Combined with the tacos it is a hearty meal.

The tacos are extremely cheesy – although not overpowering – and complemented nicely with lime juice. For those who love their meat there are duck and prawn versions on offer.

Dish Detective’s companion goes for a more meaty dish – chicken in a basket (£13.50) from the main menu. We wonder how it will be presented and are not disappointed when it arrives in a basket shaped like a chicken.

The chicken come with fries, corn on the cob and BBQ sauce. My companion adds truffle gravy for an extra £2 to act as a dip.

He is relatively impressed. The chicken is moist in the middle while the outside is crunchy, something he says restaurants often fail to get right. The fries and truffle gravy are also a hit with not a scrap left.

The dessert menu looks as tantalising as everything else but we know we have both consumed far too much for another bite.

We also know we will return for another night of delicious food and even more delicious cocktails.

RATINGS

The Alchemist (023) 9400 3575

Food: 4

Value: 3

Ambience: 4

Child friendly - N/A

A message from the editor, Mark Waldron.

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