If you’re from Manchester or the North, chances are you’ll know the establishments run by Living Ventures called The Alchemist. The first one was and still is in Spinningfields and there’s also one on New York Street in Manchester. They also have branches in Leeds, Liverpool, Newcastle, Chester, Oxford and London. Simply said, they know how to do a cool bar with fantastic food.
I used to live in Salford Quays, when we first came up to Manchester and when we were there years ago, the BBC had just moved up to Media City and it was a bit of a ghost-town. There was the run-down and half empty Lowry Outlet Mall, a couple of outdated restaurants and the amazing Lowry Theatre. The are was lovely, with waterfront walks, pathways and bridges looping through the apartments and we could see the place had screaming potential…
The New Media City
Just as we were moving out of Salford Quays, the area had taken a turn for the better and there was clearly investment and progress happening. It’s first cool bar had opened and so had Wagamamas! I think any area has “made it” when they open a Wagamamas! We couldn’t believe it.
In the couple of years that followed, Media City continued to grow and thrive, with more people working there, moving in there and more businesses, shops, restaurants and bars opening up. The Lowry Outlet no longer was a ghost-town and there was some decent shopping to be had. There was a great mixture of premium chain restaurants and independents and there was even street-food, pop-ups and markets. Now you could genuinely spend time at Media City and spend an evening there.
The Alchemist Media City
It was no surprise that The Alchemist Media City was in talks and as soon as I heard the rumours, I knew they’d be doing something pretty awesome! So when it was built and opened, I was invited over to have a look and sample their brunch menu and of course, I jumped at the chance.
I was happy to see that the bar was located on the bridge, overlooking the water, between Media City and The Lowry Theatre (perfect location!)…from memory, it was a location that used to house a marketing suite and seeing The Alchemist stood there in all its glory, it seemed hard to believe it hadn’t always been there!
With cool, almost futuristic architecture and a stunning interior, The Alchemist Media City didn’t disappoint from the moment I walked in. The familiar look and feel, with some new twists and smiling, friendly staff beckoned me in. I chose a spot over in the window, overlooking the water…there’s always a feel of luxury and calm when you can dine overlooking water isn’t there? I was brunching by myself but the informality of The Alchemist meant I felt totally at ease as I studied the menu…
I’ve eaten many-a-time at The Alchemist (often a hangover-recovery-brunch) and one of my favourite things is the American Waffles, sweet, with crispy bacon, eggs (cooked how you like) and sticky maple syrup. It was one of the first places we found in Manchester that did a breakfast/brunch like this in fact, before the days of Moose Coffee and Alabama’s.
So it was a no-brainer that I’d be ordering that to devour happily. But, in the interest of fairness and a well-rounded review, I thought I’d better order something that I hadn’t eaten before and something that’d complement the deliciously naughty waffles. I opted for the Mish Mosh….
The American Waffles, which I had with scrambled eggs, were on top form and I wolfed down the sweety, salty and sticky dish with ease! The Alchemist also give plenty of maple syrup (winning!). The Mish Mosh dish was a total revelation for me! I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but it came out in a piping-hot skillet, with all the ingredients freshly cooked and melted together with cheese. Covered in spinach and served with some fresh toast, it definitely felt like the healthier option but still a tad indulgent (I mean…all that cheese!). It was a bit of a hybrid of huevos rancheros and omelette without the eggs, if that makes sense?! Absolutely delicious – definitely give it an order!
A bit of Alchemy
After demolishing two brunches (it would’ve been rude to leave it!), I needed something to while-away the next half an hour before my meeting. So being ‘The Alchemist’, I had to try something from their drinks menu, which aren’t necessarily as they seem! I opted for a peppermint tea and it was served in a pretty unassuming science-beaker (of course it was!), but when the hot water was added to the beaker, it bubbled and smoked just like a chemical experiment at school. It smelt fabulous and a real feast for the eyes. The Alchemist by name, the alchemist by nature!
Worth a visit?
I enjoyed a solo brunch and whilst I was there, I saw couples, business-meetings, elderly friends, all going about their days and all enjoying what The Alchemist Media City had to offer. It was a real mixed bunch and it added to the easy-going and lovely atmosphere.
The defining and unique feature of the bar, was an outdoor seating area and terrace, with its own bar and unspoiled views of the Quays. It was a bit chilly for me that day, but I went out for a nosy and to get some snaps and I know in summer, it’ll be the perfect spot for a lazy lunch or post-work drinks.
So what’s my answer? Yes! Of course it’s a yes. The Alchemist Media City is fantastic, a total crowd-pleaser and absolutely worth a visit (or three, or four!). It’s the right balance of informal but classy enough to take your parents for a nice lunch or a date with the fella or meet with friends dressed-up for drinks.
The food is great quality, good portions and delicious (and the lunch/evening food is just as good as the brunch, I can assure you!) and its namesake means that the creative cocktails and drinks, really are show-stoppers and top-off any visit perfectly.