Alchemy in Cooper-Young: A Foodie Must See
Don't like Brussel sprouts? If so, it's time to stop by Alchemy in Cooper-Young and give the nutritional powerhouse another try. That's what we did Tuesday night, and the six-dollar plate was a sweet and tender tasting of Brussell sprouts, bacon, pistachios, and Granny Smith apple reduction. Equally good were the roasted asparagus with Romesco sauce ($7), which wasn't a sauce at all, but a piquant chutney-like match for the asparugus' bold flavor.
The veggie-centric plates were two of 30 choices on the menu of Alchemy, Cooper-Young's much anticipated newcomer. Hannah, Susan, and I - the food writing team here at CMI - and my husband Tony checked out Alchemy after an earlier stop at the Madison Hotel for the rollout of the new eighty3. (More on that later.)
Alchemy had a soft opening over the weekend but by Tuesday at 8 p.m., it was rocking with energy, delicious food and a well-dressed crowd of hipsters and professionals. The restaurant was so busy that we were seated in a small elevated room in the back of the restaurant. That was fine with us because the design is beautiful throughout, and we could keep a eye on the very busy bar below and the table of gorgeous fashionistas celebrating Silas Vassar's 23rd birthday. Happy birthday Silas!
It's all bar and small plates on the menu at Alchemy, and the plates range in price from $6 to $15. We ordered half a dozen, including the veggies above plus wild mushroom pancakes with wilted spinach and chevre (loved it); chile roasted fish tacos (okay, not great); Carr Valley Mobay cheese with poached applies and spiced pecans (my new favorite cheese); Pecorino Toscano cheese (Hannah's favorite) with kalamata olives and Bresalo (a lovely air-cured beef); and seared akaushi beef (meat lovers rejoice).
The plates were just fine, but frankly, I was most taken by the restaurant's menu printed on speckled paint paper. It whisked me right back to 1963, when my family moved into our new Levitt and Sons house in Bowie, Maryland. Every wall was painted in gold speckled paint which much to my dismay my mom promptly covered in earth tones.
But back to Alchemy's promise to be a mixogolist paradise. For our visit, there were only four specials explained by our waiter. I had a hard time following the descriptions, so I went with a Stohli martini. It was icy and excellent. Susan tried the Box Car, a perfect sweet-but-not-too-sweet bourbon cocktail.
For those who don't follow the Memphis food scene, Alchemy is located in the former site of Grace and Au Fond. The bones of the restaurant are the same, but the wall between the two spaces has been knocked out and replaced by the bar. Karen Roth, formerly the executive chef at Erling Jensen, is Alchemy's chef, and the ownership group spins out of McEwen's on Monroe and McEwen's in Oxford, Mississippi.
Alchemy, 940 S. Cooper, 726-4444 (alchemymemphis.com)