Monday, February 4, 2013

Alchemy Modern American Eatery

During my Bahama Breeze dinner a couple of weeks ago we were discussing restaurants to visit and Alchemy got a strong recommendation. When I saw that they were participating in Restaurant Week I knew that it was an opportunity I shouldn't pass up. Since the beginning of this blog a few different Restaurant Weeks have come and gone with me missing out on all the fun for one reason or another. This year, I finally made it happen and was rewarded with one of the best meals I've had.

For those of you that haven't experienced a restaurant week, the basic premise is that you choose an appetizer, main course, and dessert usually for $30 (sometimes $20). The appetizers we choose on our trip to Alchemy were Crab Mac and Cheese and Mojito Mussels.

The Mac and Cheese was pretty damn big for an appetizer. One could easily get away with eating only that  for dinner if they weren't overly hungry. The mac and cheese was super creamy with plenty of crab throughout and a few pieces of grape tomato. The mac itself was delicious, but the tomatoes just seemed a bit out of place. I'm sure they were thrown in there as a way to cut through the rich cheese, but both Deana and myself found them to be unnecessary additions to an otherwise outstanding appetizer.

The Mojito Mussels were also a great way to start out dinner. Plump mussels flavored with a blood orange, basil, cilantro and garlic butter broth.....I was a happy man dipping my crusty bread into this uniquely flavored broth. I think the basil they used was Thai basil as there was a licorice flavor throughout the broth. If you love mussels there is a good chance this is a variation on the classic you haven't tasted before. It's well worth your consideration.

For dinner, we were both debating the same two dishes. Smart cookies that we are, we decided to order them both and share. Deana ended up with the Shortribs and I decided on a Chili spiced Pork Loin.

The Shortrib was awesome. The two most tender pieces of meat I've ever tasted in my life were served at Alchemy. The Shortrib took the grand prize. The meat was soft beyond words and served on top of a bed of diced sweet potatoes, black beans, pomegranate seeds and I think apple (possibly pear). The little bursts of tart pomegranate were a great counterbalance to the savory Shortrib. It reminded me of a great fall dish, but it worked perfectly on the cold snowy night of our visit.

My chili spiced pork loin was equally fantastic. The meat was tender and flavored with a delicious ancho chili rub. The rub came off a bit spicy at first, but as you spent some time with it the heat dissipated. The spice was offset with a delicious pecan butter and I'm pretty sure there was coffee somewhere in the spice rub. All of those flavors made for maybe the best bite of pork I've had in a Baltimore area restaurant. I also got to experience my first tamale. These being pumpkin tamales and me being a huge pumpkin fan we hit it off quite well. It reminded me of pumpkin cornbread and I only stopped at 2 tamales because that's all that came on the plate. I'm pretty sure I could have put a half dozen of those down.

For dessert we split a Death by Chocolate cake and Salted Caramel Ice Cream. Both were great, but Deana and I both agreed that the ice cream stole the show.

The ice cream was (surprise) very creamy with just a touch of caramel flavor coming through. But what made it so great (and addictive) was the addition of the salt. These aren't flavors you run into on a daily basis and we quite enjoyed them. It was a simple dessert, but it was satisfying all the same.

The Death by Chocolate cake was also good, but didn't quite live up to our expectations. Both of us were expecting a cake more on the sweeter side of things, but instead were hit with flavors of cayenne and a bit more of a muted chocolate flavor. The cake was tasty, don't get me wrong, it was just missing the extra bit of sweetness we were both expecting when we heard the phrase "Death by Chocolate".

Overall, our dinner at Alchemy was an A. There were flavors that everyone is familiar with combined with flavors you may not have thought of before. Together they made for a dinner that was fun, delicious, and extremely comforting. We can't wait to go back. And for those of you who'd like to try some of these dishes out for yourself, I believe Alchemy is extending their Baltimore Restaurant Week deals so be sure to check them out ASAP.

Price: On the pricey side, but if you get a Restaurant Week deal it's a great value.
Recommendation: Alchemy should be on your "to eat at" list.
What to Order: Chili Rubbed Pork Loin

Alchemy Modern American Eatery on Urbanspoon

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