Review: The Alchemist, Newcastle
Located in the heart of the city, The Alchemist has been serving theatrical cocktails since 2017, but as we discover, this popular venue is more than just its quirky drinks
Walking in from the Eldon Square entrance, we’re warmly welcomed by a member of the team. From the brightly-lit shopping centre to the gothic, copper-dressed restaurant and bar, The Alchemist has done a good job of creating a moody evening atmosphere. Dining tables are split into sections throughout the venue – think cosy corner booths and brighter areas for daytime dining – but we’re seated in the middle of the restaurant giving us an uninterrupted and entertaining view of the bar where the dramatic cocktails are made.
The Alchemist is known for its theatrical drinks and smoking cocktails and we find it hard to choose from the extensive menu, but we’re given some guidance as drinks are split into categories. I go for the Bubblebath from the Chemistry & Theatre light cocktails – a mix of Tanqueray gin, Aperol, Chambord, lemon, apple and Fairy Liquid (apparently). The orange cocktail comes presented in a tall coupe glass with bubbling foam spilling out and continues to bubble for a few minutes after it arrives – I decide to let it settle before taking a sip (and to answer your question about the ‘Fairy Liquid’, no you can’t taste it). My dining partner also goes for a drink from the Chemistry & Theatre section of the menu, but this time from the dark cocktail options. The Pipe Dream is served in a glass shaped like an old-fashioned pipe with smoke running out of the end. It’s a concoction of Laphroaig whisky, Diplomatico Exclusiva Reserva rum, Glenmorangie X, Discarded Cascara and choc cookie.
After being distracted by our magical chemistry cocktails for quite some time, we look over the food menu. There are plenty of options for starters including tempura prawn lollipops, halloumi sticks and pork bon bons, but LN’s Arts Editor decides on the duck spring rolls to start. They are are hot, crispy and more filling than she had expected. I, on the other hand, save myself for a main.
We don’t have long to wait for our mains. I order the crispy buttermilk chicken in a basket, which is presented in a quirky hen-shaped wired basket. It’s served alongside coleslaw and hickory BBQ sauce, and I upgrade my fries for salt and pepper fries. Portion sizes at The Alchemist are great and the flavours are impressive. My dining partner goes for the French-dip steak sandwich – beef fillet, cheese sauce, green peppers, burnt onions, American cheese, sweet mustard mayo, and rocket – plus a side of sweet potato fries. As our waiter serves our dishes there are more theatrics as the rosemary stuck in the top of the sandwich is set alight to smoke.
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As we polish off our mains, we order a couple more cocktails. This time I go for the Lightbulb Moment as I browse over the dessert menu. It’s served in a glass lightbulb and is fiercely smoking and bubbling as our waiter brings it to the table and tells me to hold the lightbulb by its neck until I’m ready to pour into my glass. It’s another Tanqueray gin base, but this time mixed with Pimm's, Double Dutch ginger beer, Bristol raspberry syrup, lemon and mint.
As my cocktail smokes away my dessert swiftly arrives. I’ve ordered the Next Level Chocolate Brownie, a gooey, rich square topped with vanilla gelato, miso caramel, a dark chocolate disc and a sprinkling of Biscoff crumbs. My dining partner made a great choice to combine her next cocktail with a dessert, ordering The Edible One from the dessert cocktail menu, and it arrives at the same time as my brownie. Avallen Calvados, green apple, lime sherbet and salted caramel fill an edible cup and it’s topped with white chocolate cream foam. Not only is this a delicious drink and a fun way to enjoy a dessert, but one less dish to clean!
There’s nothing we can fault after spending an evening at The Alchemist in Newcastle. The dark and gothic-style decor, combined with theatrical and smoking cocktails, delicious food and friendly staff make for a great dining experience – and we already have our eyes on a couple of the other cocktails to try on our return visit.
5 Grey's Quarter, Eldon Square, Newcastle NE1 7AP