If you’re looking for a vibey afternoon/evening out with your partner and your two pooches, then Alchemy is the place to be.😎
Set along the cobble-stoned Eat Street lane of the Ballito Lifestyle Centre, stepping into the establishment immediately transports you to a modern gastro-pub which wouldn’t be out of place in New York City. It was so bloody cool.
You’re greeted at the door by the friendliest and most spritely team of young servers, who are eager, willing to assist and who automatically squealed from the cuteness that is my dog children. “Eeek! He’s so cute!”, “Oh my goodness hello pups!”, “I have one at home just the same – they’re the best dogs!” Of course he is, he’s Edgar Allan Pug. Our pups were immediately seen to by Calden and Tyler who soon became our fav waiters, and served water out of high quality ceramic bowls. (I know, right? Maybe I need to start treating my dogs better?!) 🤷🏽♀️
Inside the eatery, a long, rustic, wooden bar manned by 3 hardworking bar tenders catches my eye, and I already hand my boyfriend the keys because he’s gonna be driving home tonight, assuming we don’t have to Uber if we need it. We decided to start off the evening with some bubbles, because we were feeling fancy and it’s a long weekend and time to celebrate.🥂
We had called ahead and spoken to Chef Rev who is the new manager, and I explained that their tasting boards are a bit unsuitable for me, being Hindu and not eating beef and pork, so he said no problem at all, and had arranged an assortment of items that were Hindu-friendly from the various tasting boards and consolidated them into one giant board of culinary pleasure. I thought this was extremely sweet and such a nice gesture as most places are very uncooperative in dealing with dietary requirements.
Okay so now the food. THE FOOD.
(Rev explained that he did include some options for my boyfriend, who is slowly becoming a foodie thanks to me and this group😉 And who eats both beef and pork.)
The whole board consisted of :
A set of pork dumplings/wontons which had glazed pork belly sandwiched between Asian style accompaniments and a simmered chutney/sauce that added a spicy kick if need be. Stefan raved about these and the joys of pork belly for about a solid half an hour, next to mitre saws, jigsaws and a good planer, nothing gets him as excited and chatty. Next we had pairs of crumbed, deep friend balls of goodness – mine being filled with mushrooms slathered in a cheesy, creamy sauce, perfectly crisp and seasoned. I’m not a mushroom person but these I would order again in a heartbeat. Stefan’s option was beef meatballs lying atop a gently simmered tomato relish type of sauce and according to him, they were “lekker”. Afrikaans boys love their vleis.
Following this I started on the fish cakes that looked about the size of my hand and were filled with prawn and kingclip. Unlike the usual fish cakes that one gets at family gatherings, where a stingy aunt puts more crumbing than meat, these were rich and packed full of deliciously tender seafood meat, and again, impeccably seasoned. These, along with the creme fraiche which came as an accompaniment, paired perfectly and I gladly enjoyed the flavor explosion with each mouthful. At the front of the board there were 3 chicken tacos which were served on an easy to eat soft shell. We added dollops of the creme fraiche and bit in, not assuming much, but suddenly the flavor explosion unfolded in our mouths. Hearty, rich chicken with some crunchy bits and a hint of a chili kick greets your pallet giving you the HELLO feeling in your mouth, then the dollop of creme slowly creeps across, cooling down the flavors and leaving your taste buds feeling refreshed, and then suddenly to end off, an unexpected wash of sweetness from out of nowhere covers your entire mouth and just leaves you feeling like you’ve gone on a whole trip to Mexico when in reality you’ve just eaten an amazingly good taco. Our board was topped off with fresh micro greens, strawberries, blue berries and even preserved figs which were delicious. Tiny slivers of pickled ginger also appeared on the board which I thought was a clever palate cleanser.
Alchemy does a tapas style/tasting board menu and the culinary experience of trying out the different little bits of food with my other half and feeding each other, chatting about flavors and textures and what we enjoy was such a fun experience. This is the kind of foodie experience I love. But your girl also enjoys some drinks, and although we arrived at 3pm and worked our way through the board, I was ready to try some drinks now.💁♀️
Stefan is a bourbon man, but also loves a good cocktail, so when he saw the Bourbon cocktail range I don’t think I’ve seen a grown man that excited since they announced a sale on tools at Builders Warehouse… I of course stuck to my usual Gin cocktail which was made up of Six Dogs Blue Gin with fresh strawberries and blueberries. It was delicious. I also tried out a gin tasting board which was new and unusual for me, as not a lot of places let you explore gins and it’s become a stock standard drink. I tried a floral fantasy tasting board and discovered that I love and need to get some new craft gins in my life. (hint hint)🍸
As for the pups, they were doted on by the adoring patrons and staff of Alchemy. Everyone wanted to say hello to Edgar Allan and give him some good ol’ bum scratches. Our dogs are generally well behaved and I think the fact that we called ahead really allowed them to prepare for us and get us an amazing table. Unfortunately it started POURING with rain but the lightning fast waitstaff managed to relocate us just indoors so our pups were comfy but still out of the way.🐶🐶
If your looking for a hip, trendy, happening spot, please try out Alchemy. I think the much needed cocktail time as well as culinary fiesta was such a great time and something so different.
Hats off to you Team Alchemy! It was pawsome indeed🐾