Since opening its doors earlier this year, The Alchemist’s Glasgow outpost has already garnered a reputation for a glamorous night out. Boasting a spectacular setting overlooking George Square, plus offering sophisticated dishes and extraordinary-sounding cocktails, expectations were high before we even took our seats. The question is, could this glitzy new hotspot reach them?
The atmosphere certainly makes it an ideal spot for a night out with friends, or a place to start the party before you hit the clubs. Moody low lighting, sleek interiors and pumping music courtesy of the house DJ meant that we instantly felt in the mood for fun, and the elaborate cocktail menu offered the perfect way to kick off proceedings - although beware, it’s extensive, and it might take you more than a few minutes to make your decision.
We opted for the hip flask margarita (£15) and pear pressure (£10.50) to start, both of which promised a spectacle - watch out for the eye symbol on the menu, as this denotes the theatricality of your chosen drink. The margarita fizzed with sparkling citrus flavours and came served in a cute branded hip flask (which you can take home) while the pear concoction - a light and dreamy mix of gin, pear liqueur, cucumber mint syrup and citrus flavours - was served in a pressurised container, making pouring very exciting indeed.
On our server’s advice, we decided to begin the meal with their signature cosmic oysters (£11 for two) as an aperitif - essentially a shot, served in a metal oyster shell and presented on a platter of ice. Very fun, yes, but actually not just a gimmick - these punchy shots were bursting with sharp citrusy flavours and plenty of sweetness, thanks to a clever combination of gin, limoncello, yuzu and even passionfruit pearls. A party-starter if there ever was one.
The Alchemist’s quirky take on cocktails extends to its food offering too, with a menu straddling Asian, American, South American and Mediterranean flavours. There’s also a rich variety of vegan and vegetarian dishes, making it easy for both my companion and I to find something we couldn’t wait to devour. To start, we chose the ultimate bao buns with buttermilk chicken goujons (£8.50) and the whipped bur-natta (£7.25). The bao buns’ title promised a lot, but thankfully they were delicious, boasting pillowy bao, crispy, crunchy chicken and a suitably spicy and savoury flavour, with umami mayonnaise and sriracha doing a lot of heavy lifting. The bur-natta, a vegan take on burrata, was served whipped and creamy on a platter, scattered artistically with a watermelon and tomato salad, accompanied by flatbreads on the side for mopping. This creamy, rich alternative could certainly fool you into thinking you’re eating the real deal.
For mains, we both opted for fish, ordering the tempura hake (£17) and crispy curried fish (£18.50). The hake is billed as the restaurant's version of fish and chips, but this wasn't like anything you’d get down the chippy - this was an elegant, Japanese-inspired twist, made up of spicy furikake fries, crushed peas with nori, a rich curry sauce and a light, crispy tempura batter surrounding a juicy slab of hake. The crispy curried fish was elegant in both presentation and flavour, with fresh seasonal fish cooked in a light coconut curry sauce, and served alongside both crispy noodles and jasmine rice.
Though there was a dedicated dessert menu, we decided to head back to the cocktail list to finish. I ordered a classic espresso martini (£12), while my companion chose the brulee vous (£10.50). An espresso martini is, in my opinion, the true test of how good the mixologist is, and in this case - very good. The balance of bittersweetness was spot-on, for a velvety sipper that offered that instant perk-up we’re all looking for, plus the brulee vous was decadent, rich and luxurious - who needs dessert when a cocktail is this good?
The DesignMyNight Digest
With a lively ambience, the glamorous setting of The Alchemist is the ideal place to kick-start a memorable night out. The cocktail list was packed with eye-catching offerings sure to pique your interest, and unusual, fun flavours that will offer a talking point all evening. Pair that with a food menu filled with well-considered dishes, made up of light, fresh flavours and good-sized portions, and you have the perfect recipe for a fantastic evening.
💰 The damage: £110 for two people.
📍 The location: George House, George Square, G2 1EH.
👌 Perfect for: Glamorous nights out with friends.
⭐ Need to know: Not in Glasgow? The Alchemist Edinburgh is equally as impressive.
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