I’m not usually found in the bars on Colmore Row; while many of them are lovely, my general hatred of crowds means I usually chose establishments with a somewhat shorter line at the bar. However, last weekend, with time to kill in the business district, my fiance and I drifted into The Alchemist in search of brunch.
I’ve drunk in the bar once or twice, but have never actually been into the dining area, and I was pleasantly surprised. There are a lot more tables than I expected, and lots of comfy looking booths. Dave and I enjoyed the quirky art all over the walls, which all adds to the feel of a slightly mad mystic lab. We grabbed a table in the window, an ideal spot for a bit of people watching.
We’d chosen The Alchemist to eat after the traditional menu stalk. I’d investigated the brunch menus of most of the venues around the square, and apart from Gusto (which I visited recently; read about that here), Alchemist had the most interesting menu with some options beyond your obvious Full English and Eggs Benedict.
Our waitress seemed very insistent on pushing the cocktails, but as it was 10.30 in the morning and I wasn’t yet caffeinated, I declined. Instead, I order a Latte (£2.50), and Dave a Hot Chocolate (£3.25). The coffee is pleasant, and the chocolate looks great, served in a beaker with a pile of cream and enormous toasted marshmallows.
I order Broken Eggs (£7.75) which is essentially an omelette, filled with chorizo, bacon, mushrooms and cheese, with a choice of wholemeal toast, an english muffin or a bagel on the side. I went for the muffin, which is lightly toasted and still warm when it arrives. I confess, I’m a misery guts about being served things not on a plate, but the skillet this arrives in is an absolute nuisance. The skillet is insistent on sliding about the plate it was sat on, making it difficult to cut into my breakfast, but the handle and sides of the pan are so red hot, that I’m not able to hold it still. On the up side, there is an extravagant amount of cheese involved, which I always love. I really enjoy the first half of the dish, especially piled on top of the muffin, but by half way through, I am overwhelmed by the salt. With the combo of salty bacon and I assume an overzealous seasoning, even for salt fiend me, it was too much, and I end up abandoning the rest of the dish in favour of glugging a gallon of water.
Dave fares better with Steak, Eggs and Hash Browns (£13). You can choose to have your steak well done or pink, and the steak arrives perfectly pink as Dave requests. The fried eggs have good ooze, but the hash browns look suspiciously ‘out of a packet’ like to me. I could be wrong, but the corners were a bit perfect for something made fresh. I suspect they’re brought in ready made, which is a shame when you’re paying £13 for breakfast. The steak is decent, and properly seasoned, but is quite a small piece. The portion size in general isn’t great, as Dave has room to finish my Broken Eggs before the salt overpowers him too.
The restaurant was very quiet when we went in, with only two other tables. This does mean service is speedy, but not rushed, which I always like. Our waitress is friendly, but as mentioned, oddly pushy about cocktails. She kept bringing us the cocktail menu and explaining different options to us, despite is saying we were only after coffees. I assume the alcohol is where they make their money!
Brunch was…alright. I wouldn’t rush back, with Gusto next door serving much prettier, tastier options on plates, but it wasn’t bad, and I wouldn’t object if I was with a friend who wanted to go.
I paid in full for everything we ate and drank, and nobody knew I was a blogger. All words, images and opinions are my own. Prices correct at the time of writing.