Nestled down the bottom of Hardman Street in Manchester is the recently refurbished bar and restaurant The Alchemist. The second of it’s kind in the city with sister venues in London and Leeds The Alchemist offers refined pub style dishes and quirky cocktails that are a real talking point and sit nicely around the £8 mark too making it a great place to go for interesting food and drink that really won’t break the bank.
We started off with fish – me choosing the Thai Fishcakes (£4.75) and Joe the Beer Battered Prawn Lollipops (£5.75) with a round of cocktails including a White Cosmo (£7.50) and Caramelized Rum Punch (£8.70). My fishcakes were lovely – really well flavouried although they could have done with a bit more fish alongside the potato but still very tasty and just the right size. Joe’s Prawns were also yummy with the same sweet chili sauce in a crispy but pillowy tempura style batter.
I first saw a White Cosmo in Bar Boulud in Knightsbridge last year when Joe and I stayed at the Mandarin Oriental for the weekend and I fell in love, so imagine my excitement when I saw it on the Alchemist’s menu! After my first experience at Bar Boulud I perfected my own White Cosmo recipe (minus the White Grape Juice because I still can’t find that anywhere in the UK!) and i’m sorry Alchemist, but I think mine’s a little better! It was still very refreshing though and I love those ice balls! Joe’s Rum Punch was a lovely fruity long drink with a bit of added spice – yum!
For main I went for the Satay Salmon (£12.95) which was delicious but tiny! The flavours in the salad were fab, really hot but nutty with the sauce and the Salmon was cooked perfectly for me. I ordered a bowl of fries on the side (£2.95) which bulked out my meal a bit and I was one happy camper. Joe enjoyed the Crispy Cajun Chicken Fajitas (£11.95) which were presented a lot better than we do at home and were very tasty indeed – a fun one to have on the menu as you can swap out your chicken for steak too.
For desert we shared the Salted Caramel Cheesecake (£5.50) which really wasn’t to my taste at all. Having flashbacks to this Salted Caramel Cheesecake I was a little disappointed with The Alchemist’s version tasting more like salty cream cheese than a caramel cheese cake and Joe ended up finishing most of the plate. We finished off with a round of smoking cocktails – The Bubble Bath (£7.50) and a Smokey Old Fashioned (£7.50) which came bubbling and smoking at the table like it was Halloween! Alchemist magic aside Joe’s Smokey Old Fashioned was heaven in a glass, like a smokey honey bourbon which left me feeling a little jealous looking over my cauldron of gin!
I bill came to just over £70* which at around £35 per head including drinks is reasonable for what we had and I would pay it again. The Alchemist is fun, the staff are friendly and although it was a little loud with the open bar next door to the restaurant I think it’s a fab place to come and eat with friends or enjoy a few cocktails at the start of your evening. It’s quirky, it’s slick and most of all it’s fun – these guys know how to mix a cocktail and where else in Manchester are you going to go for your weekend alcoholic dry ice fix?!
You can take a look at The Alchemist’s full menu and book a table on their website here.
Have you been to The Alchemist before? What was your favourite cocktail?
Tweet me @xameliax or leave a comment below! #alchemistmcr
* The Alchemist kindly picked up our bill in exchange for this honest review of our evening in their newly refurbished restaurant – we’ve actually eaten in their New York Street branch before too and loved it!