Storm Brian was due to make an appearance in all his hail and thunderstorm glory. It was a questionable time to leave the cosy confines of my 23°C flat and I therefore had to have a gooood reason to be venturing outdoors.
Imperative reasons to leave said flat include fleeing from lost arachnid / lost bee / lost mosquito / attendance at work / seeing Russell Howard. Oh, and checking out the new Alchemist.
The Alchemist MediaCity had opened last month and boasting enviable quay-side views to make the staunchest of stoic, po-faced individuals smile with glee, I braved the weather.
Standing tall and proud at The Bund, your wandering eye will travel over the building in awe. It is tall and beautiful like Grace Jones (hasn’t she got the best skin?), and you cannot help but be wowed by it.
The building is big, bold and like the other Alchemist’s, creates an impact as you gawk like that kid in Mary Poppins, at the stunning exterior and equally stylish interior.
You cannot get a better spot for an eatery. We were greeted by a smiling Front of House and quickly shown to our seats. Rasa was our server for the day, and we checked out menus whilst indulging in the buzzy atmosphere. It’s a good menu, with something for everyone. I could have easily chosen 4 starters, and in the end plumped for crispy avocado (panko breadcrumbs, chipotle mayonnaise).
Ever since Nigella put avocados on the map with her smashed avocado on toast recipe, that is the most popular way I have eaten the delicious green fruit. I have never tried warm avocado. It’s avocado, for Chrissake, it should be cold, right? Wrong.
Panko crumb was crisp, golden and the perfect partner to the soft, yielding flesh of the avocado. (Sorry for coming over all Mills & Boon on you, but that is literally how it was.)
The dollop of chipotle spiked mayonnaise added extra depth to the dish, and I could have happily eaten a whole tray of these and still craved more. I think I can give that YouTube dude a run for his money, who munched through 20 avocados (kudos Pete).
Dining partner had duck spring rolls (Hoisin sauce), which were crisp, full and tasty. If you love pan-Asian food, then you’ll appreciate the menu. It is occidental and oriental with a healthy sprinkle of British classics (fish and chips anyone?).
For my main, I had special fried chicken in a basket (fries, red cabbage coleslaw). The chicken was good (I would have liked to see it a little more tender, but that is a personal opinion) and the chips were deliciously crisp.
Dining partner had fillet steak sandwich (sautéed mushrooms, onions, fries), which he enjoyed very much. Here it is open, which shows the lovely caramelised onions and tender steak.
It was a blustery day, so we had to get dessert. The chocolate fudge cake was gooey, sticky and luscious, whilst the ice-cream added a wonderful hit of vanilla to the dish.
Dining partner’s chocolate brownie was deliciously dense with a chewy bite, partnered with a creamy, dreamy salted caramel sauce.
It is an accomplished menu, and when you go there, please, please check out that panko-crumbed avocado.
The Alchemist MediaCity is a place you want to hang out in, with magnificent views overlooking the quay. It is comfortable, captivating and good food served is a bonus. If Rasa is there on the day, you’ll be in good hands. She is knowledgeable, friendly and witty, and can make great recommendations from the menu (I am forever indebted to her for her polite persuasion to try out that avocado).
When we went, the restaurant had an eclectic, packed crowd comprising of BBC presenters, families kicking back and everyone else in between. It is this diverse appeal and that avocado (no I won’t get over it, yes it really is that delicious) that will keep me coming back for more. Team Alchemist MediaCity, see you soon.
Rating: (1: Hate: I’d rather eat my shoe – 10: Love: I’d sell my kidney for a meal here)
Value for money: 8.5
Restaurant name: The Alchemist MediaCity UK
Open since: September 2017
Address: The Bund, The Quays, Media City M50 3AB
Mon – Wed 9am–12am / Thurs 9am–1am / Fri 9am–2am / Sat 10am–2am / Sun 10am–11pm
How to make reservation: Telephone & email.
Call: 0161 872 7396
Head Chef: Rafal Kmiecik
General Manager: Jonathan Fraser-Trinn
Front of House: Rass
Whilst in the area: Pop into The Lowry for a trip to the theatre, a spot of shopping at the outlet, or just to take in some lovely views overlooking the quays.