My Chemical Romance: Did We Fall For Colmore Row's The Alchemist?
Colmore Row didn’t used to be that interesting; a travel agency, a sandwich place and a few other shops so nondescript I can barely remember them now. All that has changed now, and the street is bursting with bars, restaurants and even a hidden speakeasy. It’s the perfect post-office hangout spot for those working in the surrounding business district (including me!), but even on weekends it’s now packed with people on the hunt for good food and drink, with The Alchemist becoming a firm favourite for most.
I don't think I've ever seen this place quiet. Whilst the weekends heave with groups knocking back the cocktails, mid-week sees it busy with a different crowd, one that sits out the evening on tables, taking in food as well as drinks. It is effortlessly cool; dark and sexy, ideal for dates or cosy catch-ups with friends. And there may or may not be a secret bar downstairs, but we never told you that.
The menu is vast and leans on the Orient for inspiration. Starters of duck gyoza (£6.25) are transparent dumplings filled with braised leg meat, whilst the steamed buns (£6.50) contain plenty of tender char siu pork. Even the popcorn chicken nibbles (£5.25) are embellished by spicy siracha sauce. Mains see a delicious chicken katsu curry (£12.75) lined up alongside panfried duck breast with tender stem broccoli, harissa yogurt and sweet potato fondant (£18). We ask for the duck breast pink; it arrives exactly as requested. Unfortunately though it left us with no room for desserts - a shame given how good they look on other tables.
Then there are the cocktails. Displayed on a menu that takes style notes from the periodic table, the Chocolate Orange Sazerac (£8.75) is a hit, as is Chase The Rainbow (£9), made with Chase pink grapefruit gin, marmalade, and fizz. Our pick of the night, however, is the Penicillin (£9); a short number of Islay whisky, marmalade vodka, lemon, ginger and burnt cinnamon.
Everyone in Birmingham knows that The Alchemist is a great place for drinks, but I was pleased to find that the food offering matches it. Sitting on the smarter end of the casual scale, the polished service, great drinks, and good food means that they cater for every kind of group at any time of day or night.