Restaurant reviews

Sampling the delights of The Alchemist’s Spring Menu

Last weekend, we were invited down to The Alchemist to sample their new spring menu. For us, it was a good excuse to get into town to a place we wouldn’t normally go with our little one.

The Alchemist may not strike you as a baby-friendly place to grab a drink and a bite to eat, appealing as it does to the trendy folk of Leeds (and we don’t count ourselves among them!) but actually this isn’t fair. We were shown to a table with plenty of space for a high chair and our lovely waiter was really helpful throughout our meal. In fact, he didn’t even raise an eyebrow when our little girl ended up with half a bowl of crispy kale all over her at the end of the meal!

To kick things off, we both ordered a mocktail. The mocktails at The Alchemist are full of fresh flavours and aren’t artificially sweetened or flavoured like some mocktails can be. My virgin mojito was particularly good and comes recommended if you’re off the booze but want a slightly more decadent drink than the usual range of softies.

We then ordered some calamari and some parmesan popcorn. The parmesan popcorn was a slightly unusual choice but we wanted to sample some of the bar snack items offered by The Alchemist. The parmesan flavour shone through and the popcorn was warm and delicious.

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The calamari was the star of the starters show, however, with its crispy, light batter and tender squid. Too often you’re presented with those rubbery calamari rings but this was calamari for the purists; there were tiny little tentacles everywhere!

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For our mains, I ordered the southern fried chicken in a basket with coleslaw and sweet potato fries and Kyle opted for the Sunday roast (beef, medium rare).

The first thing to mention was that the beef, when it turned up, was actually cooked medium rare. Result! The Yorkshire pudding was huge and the gravy serving generous. The potatoes weren’t quite as good as our ones at home but they weren’t those mass-produced ones you sometimes find in a pub/bar Sunday roast, and the accompanying veg was fresh and served piping hot. The beef was the main event, though, and it really was good to see it arrive at the table served pink as requested.

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My chicken in a basket was really tasty. Presented in a clever way, the chicken was moist and not at all greasy (it was a far cry from the sort of southern fried chicken presented by the likes of KFC) and the sweet potato fries were light and fluffy on the inside and crisp on the outside. The coleslaw brought a nice balance to the dish and the smoky barbecue sauce added a new dimension of spicy flavour to the chicken.

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Our little girl was also a big admirer of the food at The Alchemist, especially the side of crispy kale that we’d ordered.

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Overall, The Alchemist surprised us a little by the quality of its spring menu. The food here is affordable and really rather tasty. Pop in on a Sunday and we’d really recommend the roast, but for the rest of the week why not try the southern fried chicken in a basket? Oh, and one more tip from us: leave room for pudding. We were too full but were filled with regret at not being able to order a chocolate brownie or a sticky toffee pudding!

Disclaimer: We were invited down for a complimentary meal but were under no obligation to provide a positive review. All opinions are our own.

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