November 26th, 2015

The Alchemist Greek Street

THE ALCHEMIST GREEK STREET

24 November 2015 • food • Leave a comment

If you are from Leeds like me, then you will probably be familiar with The Alchemist. Based on the upper floor of the Trinity shopping centre, it boasts a sophisticated drinking destination for those looking for somewhere a bit special. However, I am ashamed to say that despite repeated attempts, I have yet to visit. Partly because it is always so busy on a weekend, and it's a bit of a trek to get to! I was therefore unaware that they were opening up a new branch on Greek Street, until September, when me and Martin happened to be walking down it on the way to the town hall. Little did I know that I would receive an invitation two months later to try out the menu! So, last weekend, we decided to make a day out of it and check out this new establishment, before seeing the Bond film Spectre.

The Alchemist Greek Street
The Alchemist Greek Street

Greek Street is fast becoming one of the trendiest streets in Leeds, boasting restaurants and bars left, right and centre. It is a very fitting place for The Alchemist, and they slot right in. The outside of the restaurant and bar is just beautiful; modern and sophisticated, inviting you in with twinkling fairy lights and the impressive main entrance. It would certainly draw my attention if I was looking for somewhere to eat, although I would worry that I wouldn't be good enough to eat inside it! Once you step inside, you are greeted by atmospheric moody lighting, polished metal tables and some pretty intricate decor. It has a rustic edge to it, with metal piping making up some of the ceiling work above your head, yet it is twinned with large, leafy plants and fancy lighting fixtures. I personally love how The Alchemist on Greek Street has been designed, and from what I know about its sister in Trinity, it certainly seems in keeping with their unique theme. Somehow, it just works! Even the food and drinks menus feature some impressive artwork (is it just me who thinks that they would make awesome tattoos?), as do the walls of the restaurant and bar. Most importantly of all, however, was the welcoming and friendly atmosphere that seemed to radiate throughout.

The Alchemist Greek Street

Once we had arrived, we were seated quickly by a member of staff and our waiter, Jak, introduced himself to us. We were left to peruse the cocktail menu, which if I'm honest is a little overwhelming! There are so many choices of cocktails, it was difficult to know where to start. Before we had finished deciding, Jak brought us over a Bubblegum Daiquiri, which had been made incorrectly for another table. It certainly gave us a taste of what what was to come! I'm not sure that I would have picked it myself as I don't usually go for bubblegum flavour, but this surprised us both by being really enjoyable. I have no idea what was in it as the menu doesn't specify, but I couldn't get over how much like bubblegum it tasted - it was surreal! Finally, we decided on a cocktail each; Martin chose the impressively named Dead Red Zombie; Bacardi, Santa Teresa Rhum Orange, Wray and Nephew mixed with juice and spices. When it arrived, we were pretty stunned to see that it was "smoking" and bubbling away! It was also had some sparkle - as if the aforementioned wasn't enough. It was pretty hard to capture in the dimly lit room, but hopefully you can get the gist. My cocktail didn't puff smoke or have any sparkle, but it did come with a meringue topping - the Passion Fruit Meringue Martini, which came highly recommended by Jak. Made up of Passoã, lychee liqueur, lemon juice and lime juice, topped with flamed meringue foam, this was very much up my street. The fact that I had to break through this meringue layer to get to the cocktail underneath only made it more special! The only problem with mine was that it was far too easy to drink - I could have happily sipped on two or three more of these, no questions asked.

The Alchemist Greek Street

Whilst we were enjoying our cocktails, we decided to go for a sharing starter of Edamame Beans, with soy and sea salt, to keep us going. These were delightfully messy to eat, but I absolutely loved them. They could so easily have just been served plain, but when tossed with the sea salt, it really brought out the flavour. Looking over the starters section of the menu, The Alchemist have some really unusual and exciting sounding starters to really whet your appetite, and such a wide variety, too. In fact, that's something that I noticed straight away whilst looking through the menu; they really do offer something for everyone. In the mood for chicken? You can have it fried, in a wrap or even in a curry, should you so wish. A lot of the mains menu read like standard pub food, such as a fish finger sandwich, but I decided to be a little more adventurous. I decided to go for the Japanese Ramen, mild and made with prawns. Ramen is something that I've always wanted to try but have never been able to; it's quite difficult to find somewhere that serves them in Leeds, whereas in cities like London they seem to be everywhere. I knew what to expect, but The Alchemist surprised me by serving it with a bottle of broth containing dry ice, which Jak promptly poured onto my dish! I have no idea whether the ramen I had was authentic or not, but I can tell you that I really enjoyed it. Packed full of oriental vegetables, noodles and prawns, it was a surprisingly filling dish and all of the flavours worked very well together. It was improved further by Jak's suggestion of extra soy, which enhanced the vegetables in particular and gave it a little extra kick. Martin decided to play it a little safer and chose the Special Fried Chicken in a Basket, served with fries and red cabbage coleslaw. We were not expecting it to arrive in a chicken-shaped basket, which looked pretty cool but Martin found that it was very difficult to eat out of. The batter was delightfully crunchy, with a little spice added to set it apart from your regular fried chicken. Simply put, it was a well-known dish done extremely well, and Martin particularly enjoyed the barbecue sauce, which he described as "like treacle". The coleslaw was above average by his standards (he's a tricky man to please), but the chips were a winner in his eyes, as he had "upgraded" and asked for the Salt and Pepper Fries instead of regular. He likes his chips spicy, and that's what he got thanks to the red pepper and onion - safe to say that he was very happy indeed!

Finally, after devouring our mains, it was time for dessert - but we were struggling. We wanted to try something, but we were so full! We decided to just have one dessert to share, allowing us to really enjoy it instead of feeling like we had to force it down. It didn't take us long to agree on what we wanted, which was the Salted Caramel Cheesecake, with mint sugar and crème fraîche. Let me tell you, that if you have a sweet tooth and you visit The Alchemist, you must try this. It is absolutely divine. The topping was extremely generous (just how I like it), but the sweetness of it was dialed back a notch by the addition of the crème fraîche. As well as this, we decided to squeeze in just one more cocktail each - well, it would be rude not to, am I right? My choice was the White Chocolate and Raspberry Martini; raspberry vodka, raspberry liqueur, cranberry juice and white chocolate foam. The best way of describing how this tasted would be "like a trifle" - it even looked like one too! Again, one to choose if you have a sweet tooth - it was a dessert in its own right. Martin was recommended the Hot & Cold Espresso Tini, but was saddened to be told a few minutes later that this couldn't be made. Instead, he was offered an Espresso Martini, which is not on the menu but Martin enjoyed very much nonetheless, with its classic rich, bitter flavour and it rounded off the meal nicely.

Overall, our first ever experience of The Alchemist was a very enjoyable one, and I would definitely visit again. It was not at all what I had expected; it is definitely more of a restaurant than a bar, and I had assumed that it would be like the one in Trinity and focus much more heavily on drinks. There is a dedicated bar area if you are not wanting to eat, but it definitely seemed more relaxed and intimate than what I've heard said about the Trinity branch. The service was quick, efficient and always with a smile (our server Jak is a credit to the team), the presentation of the food and drink was excellent and there was an all round pleasant atmosphere. There's no denying that their cocktails are what The Alchemist are known for, and always will be, but it is good to know that they can serve up some good quality food to go alongside them, too. My only suggestion for The Alchemist would be to be a little more adventurous with their menu; as mentioned a lot of the items are classic "pub grub" food, but some more unusual flavours and textures could be introduced to make them more exciting, and be on par with their amazing cocktails. That being said, I am determined to try out their breakfast menu as it looks fantastic (the pancakes sound amazing), as well as their Sunday roast, to see how it compares to others in Leeds. It is safe to say that I will be back!

 

 

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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.