Saturday, March 3, 2012

Alchemy N' Ale - Restaurant Review

photo credit: YELP
Since its opening in June of 2011, Chef Patrick MacFarlane has made Alchemy N' Ale yet another great addition to the ever flourishing neighborhood of Lawrenceville.  I've noticed their sign several times - it's hard to miss, and kudos to them for not wimping out on a nice sign.  On a street with so much going on and countles amount of stimulation while you're whizzing down Butler Street, you need to stand out amoung the masses. Stepping inside exudes a feeling of comfort and warmth, as the decor is both sophisticated and rustic and not the least bit stuffy or pretentious.  Exposed brick, a warm tangerine hue to the walls, and natural wooden furnishings adorn the space.

We went on a Wednesday evening and the place was not very busy.  We decided to sit at the bar for no particular reason other than it looked inviting. We were greated by the bartender and immediately impressed with the list of specialty cocktails and craft beers.  I come from a family of home brewers and beer snobs - including my new husband who has  followed suit - and the best endorsement I can give, is that the selection would be Boswell Approved.  Naturally, we had beer, but while conversing with the bartender over possible drink concoctions with whipped vodka, she kindly made us a sample tasting of her mudslide recipe she makes with whipped vodka.  Now I'm not much of a liquor drinkers, but this was damn good - and so sweet of her to offer us a sample. 

Mac and Cheese
Loud and proud, the menu advertises "Local, Organic, and Sustainable Food Sources".  Thank goodness.  The menu was short and sweet and offered a variety of items to suit nearly any appetite.  I felt that the prices were applicable to the quality of food, attention to preparation and detail, and friendly services.  Though everything looked good on the menu, I ordered two appetizers in place of one entree (I like to sample things, what can I say...).  To start, Mac and Cheese, which they claim is "better than mom's".  Not only was it better than Mom's, it was better that MINE. I say this as the author of this blog who has posted and promoted  numerous versions of my own mac and cheese recipes.  What made it so good? It tasted like cheese.  Sometimes mac and cheese can be all show with the copious amounts of goo and crunching toppings, but loses the sharp cheese flavor somewhere.  Alchemy N' Ale's recipe had goo, had the crunch, but managed to keep the cheese flavor remain the star of the dish.  I applaud the selection of pasta as well, campanelle or trumpet pasta that looks like small ice cream cones filled with the delicious sauce making each bite, the perfect bite. 

Peking Pork Quesadilla
For my second appetizer, I went straight for the Peking Pork Quesadilla.  This dish came with glazed and braised pork belly, Colby-jack, scallions, and hoisen sauce.  I could have used a bit more of the hoisen sauce even though it may have over powered the pork in the end, but I'm a sucker for sauces. (Why I didn't just ask for a little more on the side escapes me... I'm sure they would have accommodated).   The presentation and compilation of this dish was just right.  The tortilla was crispy, the pork was tender, the sauce was tangy and delicious, and the relish... well the relish was amazing. The cucumber, apple, jalapeno relish was a glorious combination of tart, sweet, spicy and cool all joined together either each bite.   

Ross ordered the Shepherds Pie.  A classic comfort food by anyone's standards and easily prepared with left overs or by the power of a trusty crock pot, Alchemy N' Ale's version kicked it up a knotch.  For starters, Shepherds pie is often made in large quantities to feed the masses due to it's durability on longevity.  This one came in its own little Le Crueset pot, and if you don't know much about cookware, Le Creuset is the best of the best when it comes to dutch ovens for low and slow cooking techniques.  It ain't cheap either, which tells me that the chef recognized the importance of the right tools to prepare the perfect dish.  Bravo.  But it's was it inside the pot that is important here: braised short ribs and flank steak, sweet onion marmalade, whipped potatoes, and truffle gravy.  TRUFFLE GRAVY... I can't even...wow.  It was delicious. That is all. 

So I have reached a point in my blogging career (though I use the term career solely) where I've become a food source for people who have recipe questions, and mostly for people looking for a great restaurant to try. This, my friends, I love.  I love when people take me up on a recommendation and have a great time.  I would undoubtedly invite anyone to try Alchemy N' Ale.  With its inviting atmosphere, versatile menu and drink list, it is sure to please even the pickiest of diners. 
Blog Until Golden Brown Pittsburgh restaurants Alchemy N' Ale on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This place is not very good.

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