Saturday, June 12, 2010

Alchemy Cafe

Not only do I love to cook, but I love to eat fabulous food made for me by other people, so I've decided to start posting my unprofessional reviews of restaurants I have the pleasure (or displeasure) of eating at. My husband and I typically go out to dinner once a week and I look for a new place to try every week. Living in Madison there is definitely no shortage of wonderful restaurants to chose from.

Yesterday we decided to try Alchemy Cafe for the first time, after both having their Tin Shack Smokehouse Burger at Burgers and Brew last weekend at Capital Brewery in Middleton. Burgers and Brew is an event put on by REAP Food Group where local chefs prepare mini-burgers using local meat, vegetables, and cheese and pair them with short pours of a local beer. The Tin Shack Smokehouse burger was described as follows in the Burgers and Brew menu: Enjoy the taste of the wild, wild west with a grilled bison burger topped with smoked and caramelized onions, bacon, spinach, white cheddar, and herb aioli paired with a Smokin' Hemp Porter. After standing in the pouring rain for what seemed like an eternity to pick up our tickets from the ticket tent (actually about 30-45 minutes), I had gone from extremely excited to annoyed and I just wanted to eat my burgers and drink my beer as fast as possible and get home. But as soon as I took one bite of the Tin Shack Smokehouse burger my mood lightened and I was happy to be there again, despite the rain which fell during the entire even. After such a wonderful experience at Burgers and Brew, we figured we couldn't go wrong with a visit to the actual restaurant.

Alchemy Cafe is located in the Atwood neighborhood, in the former Wonders Pub location. It has a fairly limited menu, but there is something on there to please almost everyone, including plenty of vegetarian and vegan fare.

(I apologize for the poor quality of this photo; it was taken with my cell phone).

I had the Buffalo Melt, a bison patty (from Rice Lake, WI) topped with fresh mozzarella, roasted shallots, tomato, and thyme-garlic mayo, although I ordered it without tomato. The burger was incredible. First of all, I ordered it medium-rare and it actually came medium-rare! All too often I'll order something medium-rare only to have it come back medium or medium-well, as if medium-rare or rare is underdone and I clearly must have wanted it cooked more. The burger was moist and flavorful, the cheese fresh and gooey, and the seasoned mayo savory and delicious.

Options for sides are fries, sauteed green beans with wasabi sesame seeds, roasted garlic and buttermilk mashed potatoes, or a side salad. With a burger, I can't help but go with fries for a side. Alchemy Cafe's fries aren't cut into your typical shoestring fry shape, but I don't mind at all. The fries were good, but not particularly special. The choice of potato was good, and they were not too heavily salted, but also not really crispy.

To drink I had Tyranena Hefeweizen, an excellent summer beer in my opinion. I'm no expert on pairing beer with my burgers, but I thoroughly enjoyed it alongside my burger. Although I can't give a detailed review, my husband had the AppleRum burger, which he said was good, but not as good as the Buffalo Melt.

Alchemy Cafe is located at 1980 Atwood Ave. Madison, WI, in the Atwood neighborhood. Check out their website at A menu is available online, but the menu in the restaurant was slightly different than the one posted on the website. For example, we were disappointed to find the onion rings (and sweet potato fries) were not available. Only cash or check are accepted for payment; an ATM is available in the restaurant.

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