First up, I was surprised at the size of the menu. There had to be about eighty individual dishes to choose from so there is almost certainly something for everyone. I also couldn’t believe the diversity on the menu. There was practically a dish from every corner of the world; Pho from Vietnam, dumplings from Japan, fried chicken, Indian curries, Jamaican Jerk and hummus just to name a few. I assure you I could go on…
For starters, we kicked things off with some Halloumi fingers which come with a side of mustard mayonnaise for dipping. I don’t know what to say about this dish other than what you would expect from breaded fried cheese- you really cannot go wrong.
We then popped over to Japan to the California roll department. They have two kinds to choose from- feta, watermelon & avocado or prawn, avocado and cucumber. We went for the latter and were not let down- the rolls were perfectly formed and wrapped around ample filling. No complaints there.
Sticking with Japan, we also ordered the Duck Goyza which were a revelation. They came with this sweet, sticky aromatic sauce which was just heavenly. I even dipped my sushi in it- traditionalists be damned. We also ordered the salt & pepper pulled pork which came with the best cucumber pickles I think I have ever tasted. They were smothered in sweet vinegar and sesame oil, and I could just eat them for days. The pork was succulent too, and my only criticism was that I would rather it was served with thinner rice pancakes rather than tortillas.
On to the mains we went to the states for a Philly Cheesesteak Sandwich which has had a very glamorous makeover at The Alchemist. No soggy sub-roll wrapped in tin foil here- but instead the crispest ciabatta filled with succulent pieces of steak, cheese, and sautéed onions & peppers. There was sweet mustard spread on the inside too which really set the whole dish off. It came with a side of chips also- skin on and crisp AF. Put it this way- the Philly Cheesesteak is challenging to share.
The Keralan chickpea curry took us straight over to India and was a really healthy choice on the menu. It comes with cauliflower rice- which usually I hate- but this one actually has the consistency of rice but with added flavour from the inclusion of added spices. This was a hearty, filling dish and my only criticism was that it didn’t have as much kick as I would have liked- but that is not to say that the flavour wasn’t there.
The standout star of the main courses, however, was the pan-fried duck breast. This came cooked pink to my liking, and I was impressed that the server asked for my preference. It was pink in the middle, with a salted crispy skin and the meat just melted in the mouth. It was served with tenderstem broccoli, harissa yoghurt and a fondant sweet potato which cut like butter. I could have eaten it for days.
On to desserts, which we just about had room for. First up was a classic sticky toffee pudding which tasted suspiciously like my mums – so I was a happy bunny. We also tackled the cheeseboard which came with these sweet crackers laced with cranberries which was a nice contrast with the three strong cheeses.
The showstopper was the cotton candy baked Alaska which was set alight in front of your eyes at the table- a little bit of showmanship certainly impresses me, and it was delicious to boot. We washed all this down with a couple of cocktails which could be desserts in their own right. The Wimbledon tasted like strawberry ice-cream in a cup, while the Butterbeer is an excellent choice for those with a salted-caramel kind of sweet tooth.
In short, The Alchemist menu is diverse which makes it good for everyone. Sure, the drinks are exciting and unique, but it is about time we stopped thinking of The Alchemist as just a cocktail bar. Top marks all around.
The Alchemist, 1 New York St, Manchester M1 4HD
0161 228 3856