A few weekends ago, I visited The Alchemist in Cardiff for my not quite sister-in-law’s hen party!
I’ve heard many good things about The Alchemist. They’re renowned for producing interesting cocktails, with the full works, smoke and all!
We came for dinner and cocktails (booked at 7:15pm) and were sat in the restaurant area of the bar. I have a few criticisms of this area.
- The tables were very close together which didn’t make it easy to get in and out when it was full. Especially with one of the party being over 6 months pregnant!
- The music was incredibly loud, even though it was a separate and designated area away from the bar. I think they would benefit from lowering the volume to allow groups to hold a conversation without shouting.
- They started dimming the lights half way through our dinner which I thought was really unusual. I understand wanting an atmosphere but sitting and squinting wasn’t what I was expecting.
Cocktails were actually quite a challenge to order. There was so many options and they don’t label things vegan here. There is one specific cocktail that was labelled ‘The Vegan One’ which made me wonder whether all the other cocktails were specifically non-vegan.
Generally, most spirits are vegan. It may be something you’ll have to research before hand if you plan on visiting because we were a little blind sided. The waitress, although lovely, seemed to be a little bit clueless on what was vegan or not. She advised that she thought most cocktails that didn’t have cream in them were likely to be ok.
I chanced it (which probably wasn’t the right thing to do) and I ordered a Lightbulb Moment which contained: TANQUERAY GIN, PIMMS, GINGER BEER, RASPBERRY, LEMON, MINT. It was served in a spherical flask with smoke pouring out of it.
We were a party of 10 and the service was great. They were very patient with us the entire time, especially at the end when we were paying the bill!
So let’s get started on the food. There were a few vegan options available here which was quite nice to see. For the mains, this included:
- Chickpea Korma
- Moving Mountains Burger
- Cauliflower Katsu Curry
- Poke Bowl
- Seitan in a Basket
Not all of us were vegan, but between us, we managed to order the chickpea curry, poke bowl and seitan in a basket.
I ordered the Seitan in a Basket and was pleasantly surprised at the quality of food. The seitan was very good and delicious. At first, I thought it was chicken and was concerned that I’d been given the wrong dish. I chose a larger piece and cut it open and it was clear it was definitely seitan. The fries were great and the coleslaw was lovely too.
Again, to be critical, they served the dish in one of those chicken shaped wiry egg baskets… Why? Why would you serve a vegan dish inside a chicken shaped basket? Even more sadistically, the actual chicken in a basket was also served inside the chicken shaped basket. I’m not sure which was worse to be honest.
Overall, the food was much better than I expected. I was really full afterwards from all the fried food, but it was worth it.
They had a very small pudding selection which included a poached pineapple and 2 flavours of gelato. I ordered 1 single scoop of mango gelato as I was too full for 3 scoops, but it was lovely.
For all 10 of us, the total bill came to £176.80. The £45 deposit that we paid was deducted from this, but a £20 service charge was added which we weren’t expecting. We weren’t the kind of group to kick up a fuss so covered it between us and the service we got did deserve a tip so it wasn’t so bad.
If you plan on taking a visit to The Alchemist, I recommend planning well in advanced and deciding your cocktails prior to your visit so you can try to accurately gage which ones are vegan. Everyone raved about their food so that shouldn’t be a worry for anyone!