Opening its doors just last week, The Alchemist at MediaCityUK is already a huge hit. The venue overlooks the historic Manchester Ship Canal and is neighboured by some of the biggest names in the media industry, including the BBC, ITV and Coronation Street. With a menu full of delicious food and a huge list of some of the quirkiest cocktails, The Alchemist is right at home in the midst of one of the largest creative centres in the UK.
The Venue and Atmosphere
The venue is unique with a striking gold exterior that has been likened to a gigantic, golden spacecraft that has landed in Salford Quays and brought the future with it. The interior also provides a futuristic feel with its head turning décor and bright lighting. The grand bar area takes centre stage, displaying a magnificent range of spirits behind the mixologists who creatively whip up some of The Alchemist’s best cocktails. The bar spills out onto the terrace which has an ample seating area, perfect for an early evening drink overlooking some of MediaCityUK’s finest talent.
We visited the venue just 4 days after its opening on an early weekday afternoon. It was continuously busy for the 90 minutes we were there, but everything, including the food and service, was at an exceptional standard.
The Food and Drink
First things first, it was time for an infamous Alchemist cocktail. We opted for the Colour Changing One (£7.75) - with Reyka Vodka, Briottet Apple, Lemonade and Citrus - this one was truly a kaleidoscope of colour, changing from a deep blue to lilac before our very eyes. As recommended by our waitress, the Lightbulb Moment (£8.25) was another choice and it did not disappoint. A light bulb shaped glass, showcasing a white fog of dry ice, was a show stopping blend of Tanqueray Gin, Pimms, Ginger Beer, Raspberry, Lemon and Mint.
To start off, we ordered the Popcorn Chicken (£4.75) from the nibbles section of the menu - which was also recommended by our waitress. It was all of only 2 minutes later when a portion of 10 pieces of cajun coated chicken were presented in front of us. The chicken was moreish with a slight cajun kick to it that wasn’t too overpowering. Even though it was included in the nibbles, the generous portion would suit well as either an individual or sharing starter, depending on how hungry you were.
Straight onto the main event, we went for the Special Fried Chicken In A Basket and Fillet Steak Sandwich. The Special Fried Chicken In A Basket (£12) was served with fries - a choice of plain, salt and pepper or sweet potato - and red cabbage coleslaw. The Special Fried Chicken reminded me of the Popcorn Chicken which we had earlier from the nibbles section and had a very similar taste, but I was not complaining. It was tender, juicy and had a great flavour. I went for salt and pepper fries to accompany the chicken, which were coated in spices and served with crunchy mixed peppers and onions. The coleslaw had a lovely bite to it and wasn’t covered in too much mayonnaise, which I feel can ruin a coleslaw.
The Fillet Steak Sandwich (£11) was served on light rye bread, served with sauteed mushrooms and onions, with your choice of salad or fries. We weren’t given a choice of how we liked the steak to be cooked, but it was perfect and cooked to our liking all the same.
For dessert, we opted for the Sticky Toffee Pudding (£5.75) and Chocolate Brownie (£6). Both desserts, served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and covered in toffee sauce, provided a luxury and rich closer to the meal.
The Alchemist is the perfect addition to the hustle, bustle and creativity of MediaCityUK. Even though we visited in its opening week during the daytime, the venue was at a steady level of busy, presumably with workers and tourists alike coming to soak up the buzzing atmosphere of the brand new arrival. I can only see the popularity of the affordable venue growing, whether that be for a business lunch or after-work drinks.