Taste of Manchester Review: New Alchemist on New York Street
Wednesday 29.08.12, 10:39am
Jamie Faulkner The Alchemist opened in 2010 in the heart of Spinningfields and quickly established itself as a superlative cocktail bar. Two years on, the all-conquering Living Ventures are rolling out the glittering concept. First stop, New York Street.
The new venue is a grander, more spacious affair than the original, boasting a 360-degree island bar and a larger dining area. Mustard Chesterfields, ornamental trinket in display cases, vintage movies in the background, and the outside booths give the place an informal, yet sophisticated atmosphere, which is sure to make it popular as an escape for shoppers and nearby office workers.
Sitting between Deansgate and the Northern Quarter, it is likely to draw the crowds come nighttime, although the ill fated Grado did not survive in a similar spot, so it remains to be seen what happens in the long term.
The menu is identical to Alchemist Spinningfields so expect innovative, molecular mixology galore, including their version of an old-fashioned, which is infused with wood-chip smoke at the table courtesy of a polyscience smoking gun. The smoky flavour varies according to how long you let the smoke infuse.
The white cosmo, replete with frozen orchid flower, is so popular that there are bon-bon jars full of it on the bar. The caramelized rum punch and the apricot bramble are other standout concoctions and the Mad Hatter's Tea Party adds a little table theatre. Don't be surprised if you're frequently distracted by billowing clouds of who knows what from the next table.
Food is inspired by various cuisines, from Mexican to Thai, thus delivering something to suit all but the fussiest of palates. Starters or Tapatizers range from £3-5 and include beer-battered prawn lollipops, generously-filled duck spring rolls and salt ‘n' pepper chicken wings, the latter being as good as any you'll find in Chinatown.
For the mains, bar standards of gourmet sandwiches, fish and chips, steak frites are joined by sea bass with coriander rice and Thai red curry, which while not being the most authentic is suitably rich and creamy and comes with a refreshing bean sprout salad. The fajitas are excellent value and will satisfy the most ravenous stomach with their thick, floury tortillas and a sizzling platter of steak, chicken or vegetables.
There's more molecular magic with the desserts. The ‘affogato' is a bowl of vanilla ice-cream adorned with a spoonful of dry ice over which you pour ristretto and squirt a syringe of amaretto to give a glorious coffee/almond reduction.
With some of the tastiest and craziest cocktails in town, plus weekend breakfasts and Sunday roasts, the new Alchemist is likely to continue the success of the original.
The Alchemist is open for morning coffee, brunch, lunch and dinner offering everything Living Ventures are renowned for – excellent service, innovative cocktails and great food.