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Alchemy

YOUR RATING = None |
BA SCORE
92
outstanding

10 Reviews
PLACE STATS
Place Score:
92
Reviews:
10
Ratings:
27
Avg:
4.16
pDev:
3.61%
 
 
Taps:
10
Bottles/Cans:
30
Cask:
N
Beer-to-Go:
N
PLACE INFO

Type: Bar, Eatery

1980 Atwood Ave
Madison, Wisconsin, 53704-5221
United States

(608) 204-7644 | map
www.alchemycafe.net

Notes:
No notes at this time.

Added by dirtylou on 01-11-2009

View: Place Ratings | Events
User Reviews
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Reviews: 10 | Ratings: 27
Reviews by DaPeculierDane:
Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.88/5  rDev -6.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

It pained me to see Wonder's go. I was long a regular at the venerable Eastside establishment. Heck, I was a devotee. Although Alchemy brings much to the table, as does Dexter's, which opened shortly after Wonder's shut its doors, and although I can still get a beer served to me by the great bartender Sid, formerly of Wonder's currently of the Malt House and Dexter's, I still can't help but miss Wonder's. Well...enough with the run-on sentences and on to a review of Alchemy.

When the hippie/hipster kids that opened Alchemy took over the place they didn't change much esthetically, aside from making a few very much-needed improvements. The walls were painted, the floors refinished, and some god-awful 1970s velvet black light art was hung on the walls. Thankfully, that art has now made way for hangings from local artists. Amen.

The bar is still long, wooden, and raised a couple steps up from the main floor. It features seating for 10-12. Areas in the front windows and rear corner opposite the kitchen are also raised and provide snug corners for groups to assemble and chat. The vibe is hip yet still neighborhoody.

One will find live music featured almost every night of the week at Alchemy. Bluegrass, long a neighborhood favorite, is frequently featured but blues, rock, and DJs playing a great variety of music also find their place. I've often enjoyed some quality brews with Reggae bumping in the background.

Food is pretty solid at Alchemy. I'm basically addicted to their homemade salad dressings and seasoned potatoes and usually go with the deep fried tomato and cheese sandwich or whatever special is on that day. Their steak sandwiches are usually good too. On Friday's be prepared to wait and wait because Alchemy churns out one of the most popular and affordable fish frys in the neighborhood. Basically, you can expect to find typical bar food tweaked with a lot of creativity and use of local/organic products. Very vegetarian friendly but not without a giant buffalo burger on the menu for carnivores like me.

The beer list is very limited but always above par. Bottle selection is slim to non existent but the ten or so tap lines feature an ever rotating selection of local crafts like New Glarus, Capital, or Lake Louie, and top selections from national craft brewers. Often featured are beers from Dogfishhead, Avery, Three Floyds, New Holland, Smuttynose, Stone, and Breckenridge, but frankly you never know what you're going to find from one week to the next.

In the end, I still miss Wonder's but I'm glad to have another pro-beer joint take its place in my neighborhood. If you're coming to Madison and spending time on the Eastside, include this in any pub crawl along with Ale Asylum, Dexter's, and the Malt House.

Oh, and service is always very good.

 2,800 characters

More User Reviews:
Photo of Kegatron
3.96/5  rDev -4.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4.25

Photo of UWBadgerFan4Life
4.08/5  rDev -1.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Photo of atone315
4.48/5  rDev +7.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.75

Went here on a Friday night, 1.5 hour wait but we had a table for 7....so not too big of a deal. Had a few beers while waiting, they had Central Waters Space Ghost so I was content. Had the Smokehouse burger and it was ridiculously good. My wife had the Walnut burger (she's a vegetarian) and it was also damn good. Not exactly sure what everybody else got but the table was a little quite once the food came so I can assume everyone loved it. Would definitely eat here again.

 476 characters

Photo of redleg411
4.23/5  rDev +1.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.25

Photo of redpuck
4.16/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4.5

Photo of Diaper-Daniels
4.55/5  rDev +9.4%
vibe: 4.75 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.75

Photo of twb0392
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of OBD
4.75/5  rDev +14.2%

Photo of Canada_Dan
4.25/5  rDev +2.2%

Photo of SnarkyFinn
5/5  rDev +20.2%

Photo of Hopbarring
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of BarrelAgedG
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 5

Been to Alchemy numerous times.. Finally a review. One of the better combos of food and beer in Madison.. As stated by others they have 8-10 taps which aren't amazing but don't include any Miller, Coors, or Bud.. Thank goodness! Almost always have a TG on tap from my experience and the main reason to go is the food anyways.. A nightly special that is always worth getting but plenty of other sandwiches and entrees that will pair well with any of the tap list brews.. A couple of tables outdoors make it a nice place on a pleasant evening.. Servers are very competent and have always been prompt in my experience.. It is cash or check only but they do have an ATM and it has a $1 service charge so not a huge deal.. If you are from the area or just visiting Alchemy is definitely a place worth checking out!

 809 characters

Photo of bpfrush
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of Gotti311
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of Giesch
3/5  rDev -27.9%

Photo of tyleeis
4.5/5  rDev +8.2%

Photo of BarrytheBear
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of williamjbauer
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of Stevedore
4/5  rDev -3.8%

Photo of leedorham
3.96/5  rDev -4.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4.25

I went here to taste pseudo sue for Madison craft week. It is a nice little cafe with some outdoor seating. They had a selection of about 7 or 8 good craft beers capable of making a decision of what to order a little tough.

They seem to care about the food and our waitress took the time to explain what must be a very delicious dish of gourmet Mac and cheese but I just got some sweet potato fries.

The biggest disappointment was that our waitress did not have a calculator in her brain, something I think should be included in all waitresses.

 547 characters

Photo of HopHeadHurls
4.4/5  rDev +5.8%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 3 | selection: 5 | food: 4.5

I live 2 blocks away and, until recently, had not discovered Alchemy. Now I am kicking myself for not getting there sooner. The food my fiancee and I have had there has been amazing (Tarragon Ham and the Bison burger with bacon and onions for me and a BLT and fish tacos for her). Also, if they have their handbreaded wings as a special GET them; you won't regret it. The beer selection is great, with about 10 nice craft beers on tap. I am sad they took out Gumballhead between my first and second visit, but they made up for it with Bedlam! from Ale Asylum, and Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Ale. The service is the only complain in that it's somewhat slow. Also, IMPORTANT - THEY ONLY ACCEPT CASH OR CHECK. However, they do have an ATM in the place, so it alleviates this issue somewhat. The prices are pretty normal, $4.25-4.75 for a nice pint of craft beer and typically 8 bucks for a sandwich. My fiancee loves the sweet potato fries as well. There are some entrees that are 13-15 bucks but if you want to eat cheaper here and get good food, you definitely can.

Also, Sunday night we went in and took part in a very fun, yet difficult, trivia night. Tons of fun - would totally recommend this to anyone!

 1,202 characters

Photo of beerwolf77
4/5  rDev -3.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Stopped in here for a few during my recent trip to mad town.

Seating for diners on the right and an elevated stage like bar on the left. I took a seat at the bar. First thing I noticed was how wobbly my stool was it felt like it fall apart at any second. Once I figured out it was how all their stools are I rolled with it.

About ten taps to choose from which isn't a huge number but all were solid choices. I ordered a beer and was pleasantly surprised to find out it was happy hour. Score one for me. The bartender was very friendly and promt. He did manage to fill all my pints so full I had to do the no hand slurp with every glass. I appreciate that it's 16oz of beer but come on man. I like to enjoy the head too.

Overall a nice chill place to grab a beer in Madison.

 777 characters

Photo of woodychandler
3.88/5  rDev -6.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Transcribed from notes dated Su, 09 Aug 2009.

Located at an odd intersection of Winnebago and Atwood Streets, I had been past it a few times but never visited until a 2008 Pre-GTMW bar crawl.

One important point to note is that they are cash only, no cards. I dislike carrying cash, but I made the concession here. It was a wide space with windows flanking either side of the twin door entryway. Once inside, on both a buttonhook-right and a buttonhook-left were a couple of seating areas up a couple of steps. Standard restaurant tables and chairs ran along the right wall with a pew-like bench in front of another elevated seating area separated by railings. First, three steps led up to two tables on the right, then two more steps led up to three more tables. The bar area was along the left wall, also up three steps. I did not understand the need for all of the elevation. I felt as though I were inside an Escher print. The "J"-shaped dark wood bar was fairly long with the taps at the left-facing end of the back bar. The back bar was an antique mirror and carved wood affair with shelves for liquor and glassware. To the right of the back bar was the kitchen. The lavs were all of the way aft, through a doorway on the right. A skylight was right in the center of the building. The ambiance was low-key with jazz playing and the lights dimmed, but not stygian. An H-D flat screen TV was hung above the entryway to the kitchen, but it was pretty unobtrusive.

Beers: Ten rotating taps with a highly Midwestern influence - Great Lakes, Bell's, two Two Brothers, Founders, Ale Asylum, Pearl Street and Viking, plus a Rogue and an Oskar Blues. Nineteen bottles, most fairly common.

Mom Test: Sure. This is a good, low-key joint with good food and good beer. I saw lots of families having dinner while I hung out at the bar.

 1,832 characters

Photo of blackie
4.38/5  rDev +5.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

first stop right off the plane on my latest Madison adventure

the place was pretty dead at 3 pm on a Wednesday afternoon - it was packed at the Two Brothers GT pre-party, but memories of that night aren't exactly clear, walked to the bar inside and ordered a Great Lakes Independence while my compadre went with a Founders Cerise (cute), cool old-school wooden interior would make a fine place to hole up for a couple hours in the winter months, but summertime it is...

after taking our seats on the sidewalk patio it was only a short wait for my stuffed grilled cheese to arrive, loved the sandwich and the wedge fries were on point, the subsequent Friday night fish-fry was quite easily the best I've had

the selection was all quality but there really weren't any "wow" beers - though I'm told it's typically better, the Independence was better than expected - not to say that I don't expect quality from Great Lakes, but red ales are often pretty tame

the bartendress was very friendly and kept making the trip outside to check on us

good start to the trip and definitely worth repeat visits

 1,099 characters

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Alchemy in Madison, WI
92 out of 100 based on 10 ratings.