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Alchemy: Solid Gold

A sculpture by Todd Williams.
Copyright©2009 sandiego.com, Inc.

The word “alchemy” is defined as a medieval term describing transmuting one thing into another, usually for a greater outcome. A turning metal into gold kind of thing, it’s taking something common and making it special. Alchemy the restaurant could not have been more aptly named.

Alchemy is located in South Park, which has become a bit of a transmutation itself. Still a rugged and gritty area in many ways, 30th Street has slowly been upping its ante, especially when it comes to dining. Alchemy is the latest creation to transform the dining experience.

Everything about Alchemy screams creativity. Muted yellow colors bask the venue in a warm glow. Everything has a distinct avant-garde feel to it. One could easily see a folk singer strumming a guitar or a group hotly discussing poetry. A gorgeous sculpture by artist Todd Williams resides smack dab in the middle of the restaurant, like a metallic tree setting roots into the restaurant itself and reaching toward the ceiling.

Alchemy is a small, funky bit of facility that houses a dozen or so tables and benches. Add the stools at the bar, and it probably seats less than 50 diners. A nice intimate setting, it was filled with a lot of locals and repeat customers, judging from the banter and comfort level. It didn’t take long to see why.

How about a Sunday afternoon brunch that starts with bacon Bloody Marys? C’mon, why have we not thought of this tasty morsel before? Alchemy appears to have created a new food group with the Bloody, or it’s just that transmuting angle again. Either way, they were fantastic. Hearty and robust flavors prevailed with enough spice to notch up the heat. For a cooler approach, Alchemy also houses refreshing bilini mimosas.

Alchemy's poutine dish.
Copyright©2009 sandiego.com, Inc.

A special menu is set for brunch with interesting varieties of traditional favorites and several intriguing new Alchemy concoctions that complete the offerings. Looking for shrimp & grits? They got ’em. Huevos Rancheros ($10), Estancia Steak & Eggs ($16), unique omelets and good ’ol French toast all make their mark on the menu. Must haves are the Alchemy Poutine ($10) comprised of shoestring potatoes, sausage gravy, Spanish Mahon cheese, roasted mushrooms and a sunny side egg. These feisty components all meld together into a bowl full of goodness. Talk about a variety of textures and seasonings. Quite the showstopper and described by owner Ron Troyano as the “favorite hangover remedy for our Canadian brethren.” Time to move to Canada.

Not to be eclipsed, The Burger ($10), a collection of grass fed beef, Mahon cheese (there it is again) house-cured pickles, parmesean frites and bacon (an extra $2) reigns supreme. It’s get-your-finger-wet juicy and astoundingly flavorful. Truly a memorable piece of comfort. Reaching for the limelight are the wonderful frites (fries, baby) whose portion could easily satisfy a party of four, but you may not want to share them. Delicious, crunchy and the perfect complement to the succulent burger.

The burger and and a hearty portion of frites.
Copyright©2009 sandiego.com, Inc.

Alchemy has a unique special event on Wednesdays called the “Farmer’s Market Vegetarian Tasting Menu.” Chef Ricardo Heredia checks with the farmer’s market on Mondays to see what is available, picks them up on Tuesday and delivers a three-course prix fixe menu on Wednesday for only $25. His meals are a delight of seasonings and flavors for vegetarians and foodies alike.

Alchemy is that artistic wonder that comes along every now and then and tries to take it up a notch through food, ambiance, comfort and great pricing. It’s a restaurant, it’s a local hangout and their unique approach makes Alchemy a truly inspiring venue whether you’re an artist or a diner. Check out the website for a million other cool things we didn’t mention. Enjoy!

Details »
  • City: San Diego
  • Phone: 619-255-0616
  • Name: Alchemy
  • Address: 1503 30th Street