Boozy Saturday brunch at The Alchemist: Breakfast and cocktails review
It’s been just over two years since The Alchemist flung open its grand entrance to the people of Leeds, instantly filling a gap in the market for those that like to enjoy adventurous cocktails in a decadent setting that looks more New York than Yorkshire.
Now it’s hard to imagine the city without it and punters flock in their droves, willing to queue up outside in order to sample its weird and wonderful concoctions.
But what about their food? As a fairly regular visitor, I often forget they even offer a full restaurant service and have always stuck to working my way through their cocktail list.
When I noticed they offered a weekend breakfast (or brunch as Southerners like to call it), I decided to give it a try and see if their kitchen could rustle up the same magic to that of their mixologists.
Brunch is big business in places like Dubai and London, but will this concept take off in Leeds?
I arrived with my partner in crime in tow just after 11am and as I was heading straight onto the Leeds Beer Festival, thought it would be rude not to kick things off with a pint.
My friend was more sensible and ordered a cup of Earl Grey Tea to begin with (1.95), but fear not – this didn’t last and the demons inside her soon had her reaching for the extensive cocktail menu.
The breakfast menu is small and perfectly formed, with full English and American breakfasts, steak and hash browns, as well as bacon, egg or sausage butties amongst other things.
I went traditional with The English (8.95), which came with the full works; bacon, 2 eggs (any style – mine were poached) sausage, mushroom, tomato, beans, toast and black pudding.
It came well-presented and everything was cooked to perfection – I even enjoyed the black pudding, which I’m not usually fond of.
The only thing I left was the tomato, which I’ve never liked warm with breakfast. Despite the plate being full, there was just the right amount of everything and a reassuring lack of grease, allowing plenty of room for a drink or three.
My friend went for Eggs Benedict (6.75) which came served with roasted ham on a toasted English muffin. She asked for her Hollandaise on the side as she doesn’t always like it, but The Alchemist’s take on the sauce proved to be a winner and was swiftly polished off with her eggs.
By this time, it was near enough midday. The bar and restaurant was filling up nicely and so it was only right we ordered some cocktails.
The waiter recommended the Alcheseltzer (7.75) which isn’t guaranteed to cure your hangover, but does taste a darn sight better than its name suggests, with Bombay Dry Gin, pink grapefruit liqueur, orange flower water and lemon juice.
Across the table, my partner was enjoying a Strawberry Bellini (6.95) which comes with strawberry caviar and prosecco.
We were now ready to settle things up and venture on, but had our arms twisted into trying one more cocktail – and why not?
My addiction to mojitos ended fairly recently when I discovered a new kind of poison – the old fashioned. The Alchemist do theirs a little differently and it’s all the better for it I might add.
The Smoky Old Fashioned (7.50) contains a heady mixture of Woodford Reserve, maple syrup, Jerry Thomas’ Bitters and is oak smoked by the waitress before your very eyes. The icing on the cake so to speak comes in the shape of a rather awesome giant ice ball.
On paper, this sounds like a gimmick but really works – trust me. You can buy similar ice ball moulds relatively inexpensively on Amazon and if you happen to be friends with/go out with an alcoholic Star Wars nerd – they even do one shaped like the Death Star.
So we left The Alchemist with good vibes only and would both return for brunch in an instant; the breakfast was a triumph.
Could you get a full English for half the price in a greasy spoon? Of course you could. But would they serve you a smoky old fashioned with a giant ice ball? Of course they wouldn’t. You’d be lucky if you got a can of Skol (or not as the case may be) and the quality of ingredients wouldn’t be there.
It’s nice to see The Alchemist is putting as much effort into its food and service as they do on their handsome cocktails and swanky interiors. A definite must.
The Alchemist, Level 1, Trinity, Leeds, LS1 6HW
Tel: 0113 246 0540