Feature image: Alchemilla
Post-industrial bliss, food to die for and wine that has never tasted so good. Alchemilla, the first restaurant of 2020 to be awarded a Michelin Star, offers fine dining – just outside the centre of Nottingham.
The location: an old and abandoned coach house on Derby Road left untouched for over 100 years. The once rotten and dilapidated building is now unrecognisable and home to an incredible team of chefs cooking up a unique and creative menu. Alex Bond, owner and the man behind the magic, founded and renovated the crypt-like space. Transforming it from a rustic underground cave to an enchanting space with a imaginative arrangement of green moss on the wall. A re-imagined reminder of the way the building was when Alex found it...covered in moss!
Upon arrival, we were made to feel entirely welcomed into a completely non-pretentious space. The cavernous Alchemilla oozes a raw and stripped-back vibe, yet remains entirely refined throughout.
As we were shown to our table, I was excited for the experience to begin – And I say experience, as dining at Alchemilla is so much more than just sitting down to eat! Our waiter introduced the seven courses, including wines expertly selected by the house sommelier to pair with each dish. We began our meal with hearty homemade sourdough and shortly afterwards, were graced with our seven tantalising dishes...
They say you eat with your eyes and the chefs at Alchemilla are clearly attuned to this, as each dish resembled art on a plate. So much so that I found it hard to take the first mouthful, for not wanting to spoil the presentation. A stand out dish came in the form of our third course. Barbecued celeriac, St Austell mussels and a herb emulsion – divine in both taste and appearance.
Whilst feeling a more than a little sceptical at the prospect eating raw veal in the raw veal, chimichurri and BBQ salad, I was taken by surprise – not only by the delicate textures of the meat, but the balance of two punchy flavours complementing each other perfectly.
For the main course, we enjoyed squab pigeon, walnut ketchup and kale dressed in a rich peppercorn sauce, all washed down with a delicious red wine from Georgia, in which our sommelier highlighted the key flavour notes. My vegetarian friend was prepared an appropriate alternative of seasonal vegetables and herb mascarpone. Seasonal vegetables? I hear your sighs, the ‘play it safe’ option of veggie dishes we know, however it was more than mention-worthy and imaginative in equal measure to my meat dish and elegantly paired with an elegant, crisp South African white wine.
To finish, we were offered our second palate cleanser to ready our tastebuds for the transition from savoury to sweet (a feature which, I think, should occur in any meal) swiftly followed by a blackberry ice cream in the style of a lollipop, wrapped in burnt pine meringue – Spectacular!
The final of our two desert courses had me wishing the chefs would just bring the whole bowl from the kitchen for me to lick! Yorkshire rhubarb, nasturtium and meringue. All sourced from the chef's hometown of Yorkshire, this dish was clearly a personal choice of his. The emotion on the plate was evident with the silky smooth meringue stealing the limelight and offset fantastically by a sharp kick from the rhubarb. Delightful.