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Alchemy, Park Slope

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  1. So, did anyone go? Am eager to know what chowhounds think about Alchemy. Will try to go over the weekend and report back, but advance reports are most welcome!!

    1. My husband and I stopped in last night. Unfortunately, they do not yet have their liquor licence but they are serving food. The food smelled great -- small menu - burger, steak, fish and chips, etc. Nice renovation also. They said they hope to have liquor on board by the weekend.

      1 Reply
      1. re: DeeDee

        So for now they're a gastro without the pub. Dee dee, you didn't try any of the food?

      2. Anything yet? Also, do they have a liquor license or are they still waiting on it?

        1. i was there last night --

          it's an attractive place. the chef clearly gives lots of attention to detail. excellent roasted chickpeas at the bar, the rye croutons in the parsnip soup were awesome... i had the skate and fries, and was happily surprised that the "fries" were roasted baby fingerling potatoes. the fried skate was maybe even better than the one at dumont, which is my long-standing favorite. everyone else seemed equally happy with their choices -- the chicken and the fish stew, if i recall correctly.

          some service issues, though. the waitress couldn't have been sweeter, but our entrees took a long, long, long while to come out -- maybe a little more than an hour after the appetizers. they were very gracious about it, and comped us a bottle of wine.

          apparently they just got their liquor license. some interesting-sounding cocktails on the menu, though i stuck with wine.

          1. Went to Alchemy last week. Fantastic burger, beautiful renovation, gorgeous lighting, brought my own beer. There is a bowl for emails to alert you when they will get their liquor license. Unitl then I will return again and again for the burger, parsnip soup, beet ravioli, skate, everything. The service was excellent and it's great to see pub food elevated in such a gorgeous room. Cant wait for beer and wine selection.

            1. I had their version of fish and chips (they use skate and sweet potatos) and enjoyed it very much. I walked by on Saturday and noticed there was some liquor behind the bar. I think it is a welcome addition to the neighborhood.

              1. I am excited about this place. I was hoping it was something akin to 12th Street Bar and Grill, and it sounds like it is.

                1. I just came back from dinner. I'm pretty impressed. In fact I dare say it's probably one of the best restaurants in Brooklyn.

                  The decor is all oak all around with some decorative iron work and what looks like top of the line Rejuvenation (but don't quote me) light fixtures powering dimly lighted, old style filament, clear light bulbs .

                  The staff go out of their way to make you feel welcome and the patrons seem to have a good time.

                  I had the crisped pork cheeks with some croutons on the side and lamb stew

                  The pre-dinner bread is nutty and has a nice crust and is accompanied with a delicious, sweet desert like sage and rosemary butter.

                  The cheeks although not crisp are very good. They're lean yet moist and have a nice meaty flavor to them. The polenta it sits on is homemade and has a nutty and herbal taste. This is not the junk you get from a tube. I can't really describe the croutons except to say that they are tasty and have a onion soup kind of essence to them. The lamb stew is exquisite. It's lean and like the pork it has a nice meaty flavor. The vegetables are not over cooked and retain their individual flavor. The gravy tastes like a great meat broth. The thick toasted bread that comes with it sops it up nicely. I passed on the desert to keep my blood sugar in check but I did have a decent cup of coffee.

                  I intend to go back to try their skate. I like this place immensely.

                  1. Had intended to go there for dinner last night, but ended up over at Taro (just felt in a sushi mood). Stopped by afterwards for a glass of wine with my wife, not quite ready but they had a decent selection (I had a rioja, my wife had a chianti) - fairly reasonable prices and a hefty pour - $14 for two glasses. Nice warm feel but it was rather chilly in there (we were right next to the door and could see that it was 59 degrees in there according to their thermostat, which was set at 72) - just a note. The burger looked fantastic, though, and it does have a very gastropub sort of feel to it. I hope they really take advantage of the markets in the summer and wow us with nightly specials. Some OK beers on tap, too, but I was underwhelmed with the offerings. (Was also hoping for a cask ale or two.) Doesn't matter, really, as I've given up beer for the moment, but still ...

                    1. Is there anything vegetarian-friendly on the menu?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Sharon

                        They have mac and cheese and also risottos. I went with 6 people all of whom were happy enough with their meals; nobody was expecting "gastropub" excitement, just solid food. The fried chickpeas really are good, but the service was slow, although friendly. I was surprised that you could get a $5 draft pint there. Would try it again.

                      2. The food is great, and the biggest treat is the little bowl of fried chickpeas they bring out with the bread. Hard to stop munching on those

                        1. The food is really yummy and they have booze now. The atmosphere is lovely and cozy. The fried cuttlefish is like calamari from heaven. The guinness toffee pudding is really too good. So happy about this place.

                          1. And the cost? I know how much a glass of chianti costs, but the food, etc.???
                            Coming to Park Slope from Oakland, CA and am on lookout for places.

                            1. I had dinner with sister and her family this past Sunday evening. We shared the fried cuttlefish and a salad as appetizers and we had the fish and chips, pan-seared scallops, and lamb stew for entrees. As noted my many, the cuttlefish were terrific. We actually had a second order because my 3 yo niece wanted some more. I didn't try the salad (I can't remember the ingredients), but my sister & husband finished it. The lamb stew was tasty, but had the consistency and richness of a soup, not a stew. The scallops were perfectly cooked so that the crust was a nice contrast to the tender interior. The best entree was the fish and chips - fried skate and roasted fingerling potatoes. The skate had a nice light batter and the wing had curled up into a ball from the frying, but the fish was very moist and tender with little residual grease. The fingerlings had a nice texture, a little denser than regular chips.

                              Unfortunately, it took more than 30 minutes from when we finished the second order of cuttlefish and when we got our entrees. They upgraded the scallops from an appetizer size (2) to an entree side (4), but it was still frustrating to see numerous hamburgers (which looked very good) come out of the kitchen before our entrees that had been ordered by diners seated after we had finshed our appetizers.

                              1. do they have a website? and what are the prices like? hmm..i tried to edit this to delete it, but it didnt work. i saw online in a review that prices are $12-25 for entrees.

                                1 Reply
                                1. i havent been there yet - really interested in checking it out tho. but, i just thought all the eco-conscious hounds out there would appreciate the fact that alchemy was just listed on LOCALHARVEST's website::

                                  dont know exactly what this implies but it cant be a bad thing, can it?

                                  1. Finally got to Alchemy last night and we'll definitely go again. Pleasant room, quite crowded when we got there (around 9 on a Wed.). Staff extremely pleasant and pretty efficient. Food-oh yes! Loved those fried chickpeas.

                                    Had the fish and chips - fish was crunchy on the outside, not greasy, and almost creamy on the inside, really lovely - w fingerling fries, more fingerling than fry but a really good quality potato that was appreciated - the smoky aioli was wonderful too--liked it better on the fries than the fish, but that's me. The pork cheeks were a good dish overall, but the pork itself didn't sing... it was good, dark, fork-tender meat, but could almost have been beef, for all the pork flavor. I liked it well enough though. The killer was the polenta under the cheeks. Oh! Buttery, creamy, just a little nutty - wonderful. Also had the scallops (but I got 3--was that a side or a main??) One side was perfectly seared, carmelized brown, but the other side could have been cooked a bit more-- the result was it was a tad more raw than I like, but that's nit-picking; they were tender and had that sweetish-briney flavor good scallops have. I forget what it was on a bed of, but it was too pureed and too sweet and forgettable. Had a side of chard, which was mixed red and regular - well cooked, not over or under, a little salty and a little buttery, just what I wanted. Dessert was apple crisp with ginger ice cream. The ice cream really was gingery--had that little hot snap at the base of it and the topping of the crisp was really wonderful. Plenty of apple that didn't turn into apple sauce--good texture.

                                    All in all we were quite happy--hubby wants to go back tonight!!

                                    1. The food here is solid, especially considering they just opened. However, the prices are not cheap. Twenty three dollars for a hanger steak is a bit steep for a cut that retails for about four dollars a pound. One caveat: the chef who conceived the menu and helped get the kitchen up is no longer around. He was just a consulting chef, and while this is a fairly common practice for a place of this caliber, it remains to be seen weather they will stay the course without the guidance.

                                      1. I think the prices are just fine, the hanger steak is great quality and I really enjoyed it. I do with they had some more wines, but it is a gastropub so I can't complain. Besides - the Koefel on tap is lovely.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: evoo

                                          Is there anyone else who just didn't feel the gastropub vibe?

                                          We had dinner there last week and while we thought the food was good, the atmosphere was completely lacking. It really just felt felt like a restaurant with a bar that put some British-inspired dishes on their menu.

                                          We were comparing it to actual gastropubs like Anchor & Hope in London or even the Spotted Pig.

                                        2. I went earlier in the evening a few weeks ago, like right after they opened, and maybe it's missing a certain "gastropub" vibe but I didn't t miss it. I'd rather go to a restaurant for the food than the atmosphere but appreciate a bit of a "concept" --particularly when a place first opens it's often better if the menu has some cohesion or an inspiration.

                                          I haven't been to a real gastropub in such a long time though (damn you worthless dollar!) and gave up on the Spotted Pig a long time ago. Alchemy definitely feels more like a restaurant than a pub.

                                          1. I guess I would have to agree with you, Cornflakegirl. It didn't feel that much like an actual gastropub, but then again what does outside of London? Even Spotted Pig (which I've enjoyed) did not give the vibe, though more so than Alchemy. When you say you're trying to be something (gastropub) but are not really one, it's all a show. I don't necessarily mind the show, but it's not authentic.

                                            Alchemy is not laid out to be a gastropub - it's too tiny. They have a lot of space, but the commnual tables take up most of it. Now, this is not a complaint - I think they do it right - it felt kinda like eating dinner at The Gate on 5th and 3rd (my favorite local). So I don't mind that it's not a "gastropub" per se, the food is good, the vibe is friendly, and the beer isn't overpriced.

                                            1. Had a later dinner on Friday after a performance of Edward Scissorhands.

                                              Felt that every aspect of the meal was overrated.

                                              The pork belly appetizer was underwhelming -- the pork was good but would have been better hotter (was it intended to be served lukewarm?) and the polenta was a glob without redeeming sage flavor. The apple chips were lovely to be sure. The cuttlefish app was also not out of this world, breading was not well adhered to the fried fish, and it was just fried fish -- not a revelation or anything. Chili Mayo dip was fine.

                                              Didn't think that the fish and chips were anything to write home about. The fish was definitely not "crisp", the fingerling "fries" were not fries. They were roasted potatoes and oversalted (IMO). Also - no vinegar on offer.

                                              We both had cocktails which were quite good (overcharged @ $9 on the bill, corrected by the staff when pointed out) and beers with dinner. My fiancee's Guinness and my Boddington's were both served far too cold and did not taste right at all. A 1/2 pint was requested for the Guiness, and we were told they did not serve 1/2s.

                                              The inside of the bar is pretty nice but they need to work on both the Gastro and the Pub part.

                                              Overall C. Very disappointed given all the hype.

                                              5 Replies
                                              1. re: greenermjr

                                                Had a great meal there for Brooklyn Restaurant & am planning on bringing some clients there this weekend. The pasta option on the special menu was fantastic & a welcome addition to a menu that really offers no vegetarain options.

                                                1. re: greenermjr

                                                  I ate there last night and had a pleasant experience. We were seated in under 10 min at a peak hour. The table's fried chick peas were pretty tasty. The fried cuttlefish appetizer (and particularly the chorizo mayo) were good, not great but better than ok. The fish and chips were good too, again not amazing but still solid. We were offered vinegar. The chips were really more like roasted potatoes, possibly a bit oversalted as mentioned earlier. I liked them nonetheless. The burger I had I thought was really tasty, dare I say delicious. It was cooked perfectly, came topped with lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions, shallots and chedder (they asked if I wanted cheese), all on a nice brioche bun. It's clearly as good if not better than all of the other ~12dollar burgers in the neighborhood (12th st bar & grill, black pearl, cocotte, dizzy's, moutarde, etc.). The dessert was also pretty good but could have been done a little better. It was a buttermilk panna cotta with pomegranate sauce. The panna cotta was nice though I felt the sauce was slightly too tart and it sat right on top of the panna cotta. I would have plated the panna cotta upside down rather than in the cup, and I would have placed the sauce around the panna cotta in some fashion. Overall a good place, maybe slightly lacking the complete gastropub feel, but certainly a place I'd go back to.

                                                  1. re: prcentauri

                                                    Alchemy doesn't actually call itself a gastropub on it's website. It says Restaurant and Tavern. Other webistes and publications are calling it that. Maybe it's just a restaurant and tavern like it says. If we compare it to a gastropub in England, of course it will be dissapointing. I think of it as a local bar with really good food, Brooklyn style-not necessarily England style.

                                                    1. re: iheartbklyn

                                                      to the contrary, based on the NYMag account that starts this thread, the owner has only himself to blame for the disconnect. He got the hype machine rolling and its understandable (tho boring at this point) that people are peeved with the failure to deliver.

                                                      1. re: iheartbklyn

                                                        They were called a gastropub in the PR materials,...

                                                  2. hmmm...we were utterly disappointed with our experience. first, sitting next to a bunch of drunk 21 year-olds is no fun, but when you share tables, you have no say who your neighbors will be. it's especially annoying when one of tehm has a voice that could curdle milk. when you're spending $12 pp for dim sum, it's no big deal, but otherwise, it's a real downfall. the burger was charred to a crisp on the outside yet rare on the inside (we asked for medium rare). fish n chips were just ok, I was very disappointed with the fries. I like them crisp and skinny, not fat and mushy. so, just another place to go and nothing special. too bad.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: ssamantha

                                                      same experience here...we waited ten minutes for the bartender to make our drink since he was busy wiping down the bar and having a conversation with a friend. Strange to go through your appetizer round without drinks. Food was okay--nothing to write home about. They're still working out the kinks. I don't like how close the tables are to each other--it feels cramped and there's no privacy.

                                                    2. Went last Saturday. It's Ok. The interior is a little kitschy, it's like they were going for the rustic feel, but got their stuff from Target, stylized, not real.

                                                      The beer was fine - had the Belgian wheat beer on tap - $6 for a pint, decent.
                                                      The burger was god - not sure worth $12. The fries were delicious though!

                                                      It's definitely not a gastropub - you can't sit at the table all evening and drink, you eat your meal and get up. you can move to the bar area then.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: nokitsch

                                                        Went there thursday night. place was busy. service was attentive, fast and food was good. pork cheeks were scrumptious. going back for seconds.

                                                      2. Went to Alchemy last night and loved it. Putting this gastropub question completely aside, the food was delicious, the service friendly and prompt, and the atmosphere relaxed and unassuming. We had the mushroom salad (nicely flavored, great texture) and the cod special (light and fresh). I will definitely go back, and perhaps this time I'll try sitting in what looks like a decent back garden. I'm thrilled to have this place in my neighborhood.

                                                        1. went there last night for the second time. the service was awful, the food not like i remembered it at all. i ate there about 7 weeks ago and had a great experience ( see my previous post) don't know quite what happened here - there was a lot of potential. i heard that they no longer have a chef.

                                                          14 Replies
                                                          1. re: foodgirl43

                                                            My wife and I went there along with a friend of ours the other night and although our food wasn't awful, it wasn't the high standard that we had come to expect from Alchemy either. We have been to Alchemy on at least 7 occasions prior to this most recent experience and always found the food extremely tasty and consistent. Alchemy had some problems with their chef and have a new chef who has taken the liberty of "reinterpreting" some of their dishes. Unfortunately, the original recipes were in every instance better than the "new". It was kind of a "Coke II" moment.

                                                            However, we should all try and support this place because the waitress and the manager came and spoke to us about our views on the new chef and the new menu. They said the owner was "very interested in feedback". I think these guys will get back on track and we should try and help them do that. If you do decide to go back, please let your views be known because they are doing their best to fix the issues they are having at the moment. I certainly plan on going back because I think their heart is in the right place...

                                                            1. re: mmm...food

                                                              Their heart is totally in the right place.

                                                              Far more sincere than Convivium anyway.

                                                              1. re: cmballa

                                                                You can't eat "sincerity." Let me know when the food gets better.

                                                                1. re: Bob Martinez

                                                                  Good point.

                                                                  I have a crush on a waitress.

                                                              2. re: mmm...food

                                                                Glad you still have faith. I certainly don't and have talked to many others who have recently gone there and said they would never return back . The night I was there, the owner didn't even have the decency to come speak with us regarding our lousy meal, even though I have eaten there many times and many of the staff there always know me. I like the Coke II reference you referred to - very good way of describing it. I think the only way for Alchemy to ever get back on track is to hire a new team in the kitchen - or hell, bring the old chef back - his rabbit pot pie was amazing, the scallop appetizer with the watermelon... oh, the pork belly! how sad it is that this amazing place in our neighborhood has gone to hell.

                                                                1. re: mmm...food

                                                                  We went there last Friday evening and while it had definitely changed a lot since our last visit several months ago, we were quite happy with our food and service.

                                                                  It does seem we missed a chef or two though, since the last time we went they were still serving fried chickpeas on the table when you sat down, and I don't remember anything like scallops and watermelon.

                                                                  We will go back.

                                                                  1. re: altobarb

                                                                    I'm glad to see this post is still active - I had thought about posting last week after a terrible dinner there. Granted, we went on Halloween, so maybe things were a little stilted as a result of that, but really. When we sat down we asked for water. The waitress brought wine, but didn't bring our water for probably 10 minutes. Then she took our order. Then came back to tell us she couldn't fill one of the orders. My husband's fish and chips was not tasty. The fish did not seem very fresh and the batter just wasn't very good. My tortelloni were tough and cloyingly sweet in what was supposed to be a sage butter sauce that tasted instead of gorgonzola. My friend's ravioli with pork and beans was a hit mostly with my toddler. And that was the second plate of it - the first was set down in front of her stone-cold and before any of our other entrees made an appearance. It took us probably 5 minutes to flag down the waitress to take it back, which she did without an apology or explanation. Then it took us another 10 minutes to get our check. All around, just a disappointment after my last dinner there last spring, which was great food and much better service. Really sorry to see the decline. I won't be going again.

                                                                    1. re: kabny

                                                                      it's unfortunate to see that this place is on its last legs with 1/2 price happy hour entrees. i'm a sucker for cheap so went to see if the burger was ok, used to be my favorite burger in BK (not anymore). i asked for it to be cooked medium and it was burnt to a crisp. i'll come back for a pint but can't say i'll be eating there again.

                                                                      1. re: psrope_kimchiruva

                                                                        I live across the street from Alchemy, so I really wanted this place to be good, to provide an alternative to our (at least) weekly dining at Melt when we want a good meal but have not planned ahead with making reservations, etc..

                                                                        I've been to Alchemy four times, each separated by a couple of months. Each time, there were pretty bad service issues (most have been covered in above posts, but I can add "waited 45 minutes for appetizers when restaurant had only three other customers" to the list). Food has always been decent, but nothing that would overcome the bad service...especially not with much better choices a half a block away in Melt or Convivium.

                                                                        It will take a lot of positive posting on this board for me to give them another shot.

                                                                        1. re: jacobdev

                                                                          I didn't care for Alchemy the one time I tried it. However I also can't imagine a world where Melt and Convivium are mentioned in the same sentence as equally positive options.

                                                                          1. re: Peter Cuce

                                                                            I'll stand by my post that there are two ways they are equally positive...they are both better than Alchemy and they are both half a block from Alchemy.

                                                                            I realize they are leagues apart and was not implying they are the same dining experience. But honestly, Melt is probably a better option for the average Alchemy diner as it is closer in price, the type of food, and the fact that you usually don't need a reservation to get a table.

                                                                          2. re: jacobdev

                                                                            Talk about downhill. My first visit to Alchemy was almost a year ago (last February) for a friend's birthday. The group was medium-sized (8-10) and the staff was accommodating about stragglers. The food was interesting and tasty -- about what I'd expected given the pre-opening blog buzz and my cynical refraction of same -- but the service wasn't firing on all cylinders yet. All in all I thought it was good enough for having just opened, so I made a mental note to revisit.

                                                                            Well, the revisit took longer than expected -- La Guapa and I went back mid-December, despite my mild misgivings (based on reports from this board). We walked through the front door, turned to each other and simultaneously remarked on the very foul odor*, which was immediate and powerful. Exeunt omnes for better fare at Sheep Station.

                                                                            FWIW, neither of us can be said to have delicate sensibilities when it comes to food. This reek wasn't simply strong, it was foul. As far as we're concerned, this alchemical experiment is over.

                                                                            * Actual remarks elided for family viewing.

                                                                              1. re: brooklynr

                                                                                Nearly inedible. Surely an off night even by recent standards—

                                                                                Med-rare burger perfectly grey on the inside and not even charred on the out (a good trick, really). Served with a sorry outer leaf of Iceberg, a quarter-sized end of a tomato (flavorless), no additional vegetables, wad of tepid cheese. Fries cold and rubbery. Friend's admittedly low-ball order of "shells and cheese" was extremely underseasoned, short on the pork, only warm.

                                                                                Not again.

                                                                  2. Ate there on Saturday night and had a bad experience.

                                                                    Got there right around 11 as they were changing over to their late night menu, but there was a bit of a mix-up. We initially received the regular menus and as we were preparing to order, were told that only the late night menu was available. That was fine as all I really wanted was some fries and drinks anyway.

                                                                    My girlfriend ordered a glass of red wine that came in a glass with a jagged edge and a huge gouge. The waitress gladly took the glass away but in the service bar area was clearly contemplating just transfering the wine to a new glass. Gladly, good sense prevailed. At home, maybe I would do that, but in a bar when I'm paying the price of a full bottle for each glass, I'd hope they could pour me a new one (as they did).

                                                                    Then the fries. Man, were those garlic fries awful. They were a soggy mess. Not like the fingerling potatoes referenced below. They were garlic fries, but instead of a sprinkling of well browned garlic, it look like someone took a garlic press after the fries came out of the warming tray and just squeezed a few whole cloves here and there. The garlic was hardly cooked and i had to literally smear it around with a fork in order to break up the huge clumps.

                                                                    Would not go back anytime soon with so many other good options around.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Gowanus Eater

                                                                      Well, my husb and I went here on Wed, and honestly only went here because it was literally the only place open during the week during the day...had a very good experience The bartender doubled as server and was very pleasant and capable...we both had burgers, which I thought were excellent. Started with a nice roasted mushroom salad...the dressing was good but could have used a little more punch, but still it was a very nice salad. I felt that all the ingredients were high quality and fresh. We both felt it seemed like a nice place for a drink as well. Incidentally, the burgers came with a free half pint of your choice. Maybe we got lucky, but we had a positive experience.