Sunday, 18 May 2014

Alchemy - A new season and a new round of goodness

Whether by accident or by design, it seems as if seven is a lucky number for one of Brisbane’s most enduring and acclaimed restaurants.  Alchemy Restaurant’s Brad and Angelica Jolly have been weaving their magic at their riverside fine dining establishment for seven years.  To celebrate the changing of the season, Head Chef Brad Jolly has put together an astounding new menu, which I was fortunate enough to be invited along to sample.  And what better way to celebrate seven years, than with a seven-course degustation?

Brad Jolly has been one of Brisbane’s most influential chefs for many years and incorporates his philosophy for exceptional service with the highest quality produce into everything he does.  It’s a philosophy that has been refined throughout his career, working alongside culinary giants such as  the original superstar chef, Marco Pierre White, Eric Chavot and new king of the kitchen Jamie Oliver.  It’s this search for perfection that has made his French inspired Modern Australian restaurant one of my favorite restaurants to dine in our fair city.

There are a few restaurants in Brisbane that I consider old favourites and Alchemy has been right up the top of that list for a long time.  What I've loved about Alchemy is the level of consistency that Brad and the team have been able to produce over the years.  There have been many nights where I've come home from a long day from work, taken one look as SC and we've marched across the road for a nice stress relieving meal. There have also been those important work dates or even more important lunch meetings where I've needed to impress and Alchemy has always been there, on my side.

This lunch would be a little different though, it was the first time I'd been invited along as part of a larger blogger and press gathering and I was pretty excited.  As usual, I arrived fairly early and took a seat in the bar area as my fellow diners began to arrive.  The food community in Brisbane is pretty close, so it wasn't long before a bunch of foodie friends began to arrive and conversation about food began in earnest.  What I didn't know was that I'd finally get to meet some Facebook and Instagram friends for the first time 'face to face', sweet!

It was time to kick off the day and Brad and Angelica (Brangelica?) took a few moments to tell us about the restaurant and their food philosophies.  It was clear that Brad was passionate about the restaurant and food in general and when Angelica said a few words, I could see that they were a formidable team and a core reason why Alchemy has been so good for so long.

Finally, it was time to dine and to get a peek at the seven course menu and I could tell immediately that Brad had outdone himself this time!

We started off the meal with the Noosa hinterland crispy courgette flowers with herbed goats cheese and truffled honey, which looked light and inviting on the plate.  The smell emanating from the plate was enough to have me salivating but it was nothing compared to the subtle flavours of the goats cheese when combined with the deep fried courgette flower.  The addition of the truffled honey leant a sweetness and earthiness to the plate which set my taste buds alight.

I was excited by the presentation of the Tasmanian salmon ceviche with citrus, glazed beetroot, horseradish and white chocolate crumble.  The salmon was cleverly presented as a circle of fish standing tall and proud amongst the micro herbs and glazed beetroot.  The unusual pairing of white chocolate crumble worked surprisingly well with the sweet beetroot and fresh and delicious salmon.  There was a mix of textures that worked playfully on my palate but there was no doubting that the star of the show was the lightly ceviche salmon which provided just a hint of citrus flavour.

The stunning presentation continued with the stark contrast of the Hervey Bay scallops, crushed peas, goats cheese and lemon dressing.  I loved the freshness of the dish that saw two perfectly seared scallops sitting atop crushed peas and broad beans.  To finish the look, a circle of pea puree surrounded the scallops and added some symmetry to the plate.  The plump scallops were sweet yet combined perfectly with the equally sweet peas and slightly bitter broad beans.

There are not many better combinations that scallops and pork belly, so it was pleasing to see the next course was Northern Rivers pork belly with yoghurt spiced aubergine, apple salad and crackling.  Unusually the pork belly was served with the crackling to the side, but what remained was a perfect square of pork that was soft and jube-like with an intense sweetness that came from the perfectly rendered fat.  An apple salad and some spicy aubergine helped balance out the richness of the pork and a generous serving of crackling added a wonderfully crunchy texture to the dish.  Probably the only thing that I didn't like was the spiced aubergine, which was not too surprising as I generally don't like aubergine!

I’m a sucker for venison and have had some amazing versions recently but none better than the oven roasted venison loin with celeriac puree, chocolate coffee crumble and dark chocolate ganache.  It was the second course of the day where chocolate was mixed with the dish; however, in this instance chocolate and venison are a well-known combination.  The medium rare venison was expertly cooked and incredibly tender but it was the herb crust that encircled the venison that really enhanced the flavour.  The rich gamey taste of the venison was matched by the dark chocolate ganache and created a challenging and rewarding combination.

I was feeling full and sated but there was still dessert to come.  The soft set buttermilk panna cotta with rhubarb and basil ice cream came last and it looked wonderful in a plain glass.  Different textures of rhubarb were on display and contrasted nicely with the green of the basil ice cream and stark whiteness of the buttermilk panna cotta.  It was easy to like this dish, even though my preference is for a more traditional set panna cotta.  The combination of textures and flavours were perfect and before too long, my glass was empty.

Afterwards I chatted to Brad about the meal and reminisced over some of the beautiful meals I’d eaten at Alchemy over the years.  I’ve lived across the road for six of the seven years of Alchemy’s existence and as a regular at the restaurant, I’ve seen the menus develop and change over the years and very much enjoyed the journey.  I'd explained to Brad that my favourite Alchemy dish of all time was a wonderful little beetroot risotto with duck breast and creme fraiche and when I asked if he would ever put it back on the menu, he mentioned that it was previous weeks special!  Unbelievable, I missed it!

Alchemy is a mainstay in the Brisbane dining scene with a consistency that is the envy of many other restaurants.  With an exciting new menu, it won’t be long before I find myself back in the dining room and running through the menu to discover what other incredible taste sensations are there to explore!

Oh, and if you've been carefully counting the courses, you'll notice that there are only six presented! Unfortunately I had to leave before the Liquid nitrogen sweet gastronomic nibbles came out....  Again!  I can't seem to ever catch these bad boys...

**I was a guest of KDPR and Alchemy restaurant for this meal

A sign of an amazing restaurant is how the butter is prepared.  The alchemy butter is whipped with a little salt and is so easy to spread!
A lemon sorbet with lemon curd was a lovely palate cleanser
Finally, after all these years, I got to check out the Alchemy kitchen
The boys hard at work planning the next meal?  Or perhaps it was Instagram time :)
The dining room
A good place to start your meal at Alchemy is at the bar
And what restaurant is complete without a library and wine rack - and of course the signature liquid nitrogen.

Alchemy Restaurant and Bar on UrbanspoonAlchemy Restaurant and Bar


  1. wow this all looks so good. I must try it!

  2. I always have a great meal at Alchemy


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