The Alchemist

It’s hot outside today… really hot — about 95 degrees — and disgustingly humid too. We had some commitments this morning and planned to head into the city after to check out the Boston Dragon Boat Festival on the Charles River. We actually made it into the city, drove down Memorial Drive and looked for the festival… but alas, found nothing. I failed to ascertain the actual location of the race and the festivities before we left and assumed it would be somewhere between where Memorial Drive closes on Sundays and the Longfellow bridge. I was wrong.

Considering the heat and the state of the 3-yo, we decided our best option was to hop onto Huntington Avenue (Route 9 West) and head home. We were hungry and wanted to feel like our trip wasn’t a complete waste, so we took a quick left onto South Huntington Avenue and hoped we would come across an interesting place to eat lunch in Jamaica Plain. Our requirements were simple — we wanted to sit outside (in the shade), find a place that had something on the menu to satisfy each of us and to find a locale that was kid-friendly.

We wound up at the Alchemist Restaurant & Lounge on Centre St. in Jamaica Plain. Knowing nothing at all about the Alchemist, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What we found was a spacious pub with eclectic old-world decor, red walls and live music. My guess is this place has a pretty cool bar scene on the weekends and is a neighborhood favorite.

The menu is comfort-food based with traditional Irish-inspired meat dishes and standard pub fare. The menu for 11am to 3pm on a the weekends is strictly brunch — but there were a fair number of salads and sandwiches to chose from, as well as their signature flat breads. The restaurant serves all three meals during the week as well as a late night bar menu from 10:30pm to midnight.

Our agenda was to eat and get the 3-yo home so he could nap, so we sat down outside and quickly ordered our food. I had the Beer Battered Fish and Chips ($12) with malt vinegar aoili and carrot-jicama slaw. The Husband had the Portobello Mushroom Burger ($9) with grilled tomato and garlic aoili. The 3-yo opted for a plate of French Fries ($3).

The french fries arrived first and we realized we could have just skipped the order completely. The portion was HUGE and we could have all shared the fries that came with our meals.

The fish and chips was a hearty portion as well. Two large pieces of cod in a crispy beer batter, served piping hot. The aoili wasn’t decent and the jicama slaw wasn’t bad — just nothing special. My guess is that it’s nothing more than carrots, jicama, mayo and vinegar.

The portobello burger was a large patty served with a grilled and halved plum tomato. The husband would have liked a little lettuce and/or something else with it, but by the looks of it this is a no frills kind of place.

The service was fast, though our waitress seemed to be out of Night of the Living Dead, as she showed zero emotion on her face and in her voice… talk about an extremely flat affect. The guitar player (who I got a glimpse of when I went to the rest room) appeared to be pretty good — with a classic folk sound.

Overall, not bad. It’s probably more of a fun bar scene rather than a four-star restaurant, but could serve quite well as a great hangover nosh-fest. My only complaint? The water isn’t refrigerated. It’s served at room temperature… and on a day like today, that meant it was about 85 degrees. Not exactly refreshing — but like I said, no frills.

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