In Chester, you’ll undoubtedly come across the polished crowds that file into The Alchemist for drinks and dancing each weekend. The nationwide brand is well known for its theatrical take on cocktails that bubble, fizz and smoke, all while retaining delicious and subtle flavours that have you coming back for more. In fact, this venue was so linked to nightlife that I only recently realised that the venue was a restaurant by day.
When I checked out the menu, I was surprised to see how wonderfully creative their vegetarian options are – think ‘popQuorn chicken’ fajitas and intriguingly, smoking vegetable Pho! For someone who couldn’t think of anything worse than a mushroom burger or goat’s cheese salad, it’s so refreshing to see chains becoming more and more adventurous with their options. So, Charl and I decided to check out their brunch menu one sunny morning and it didn’t disappoint.
While downstairs is focused on the long, polished bar, we were taken to the chilled out first floor for brunch – think dark woods, sultry lighting and polished leather with touches of green that add freshness to the masculine feel. We were some of the first to arrive but even as our drinks were served, the restaurant was filling up fast with big groups enjoying a hearty breakfast before heading down to Chester racecourse for a flutter. It’s only a ten minute walk away – if you’ve visited Chester, you’ll probably know how petite the city centre is! – making it a great place to start the day in style.
We dined off the race day brunch menu as the option to enjoy one of The Alchemist’s famous drinks along with your food (all for £15!) seemed only fitting. If you’re in the market for a girls day out however, there’s also an option that offers brunch and three cocktails for £25. The menu was huge with the most creative selection of cocktails I’ve ever seen and plenty including my favourite tipple, gin. Our waitress was lovely and, when she saw how torn we were between all the amazing options, took the time to explain some of them to us as well as recommend her personal favourites. Charl chose ‘Garden’ – a summery gin-based tipple with pink grapefruit, citus and an elderflower foam – while I opted for the more theatrical (and aptly named) Bubblebath.
We giggled as I attempted to sip from the glass without ending up with a nose full of apple-flavoured bubbles but when I made it down to the drink itself, it was just as delicious as the description made out. If you have a sweet tooth when it comes to cocktails, this one is sure to be a hit! But our attention quickly turned to the main event – food. With options from full breakfasts to healthier yoghurt, bagel and porridge options, veggies and meat eaters alike will have rumbling stomachs just reading the brunch menu!
After much deliberation, Charl picked the avocado and halloumi muffin that arrived looking much bigger than we expected – that’s always a good thing, right? Oh, and a side of hash browns because a breakfast out is never complete without hash browns. I was torn but my unprecedented hunger levels led me towards The Veggie, a full breakfast loaded with all my favourite morning treats. A quick FYI: it usually comes with eggs but they kindly let me switch them out for extra hash browns as I professed how much I’ve always hated them!
The food arrived quickly, despite the influx of glamorous people looking for their pre-races fuel, and was piping hot. For someone who’s eaten countless lukewarm veggie breakfasts, this was a big thumbs up and I devoured it in no time at all. But, in spite of being perfectly full, the dessert menu managed to catch our eye. Deciding to share a sweet treat before heading home, the Cotton Candy Baked Alaska comes with waffle, gelato anad meringue but looks more like a heap of candyfloss when it arrives at the table – but not for long.
There was a definite alcoholic flavour lingering over the dessert that you may or may not love – we were split! – but the combination of crispy meringue, cool ice cream and fresh strawberries was a delight.
Overall, our experience at The Alchmeist Chester was lovely. We loved how even the food managed to capture the kooky vibe of The Alchemist and it’s such a nice environment to sit and chat for a few hours. It was so good that I’m hoping to go back soon and try out the main menu for dinner – I’ll keep you posted!
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