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Ratings: 18 | Reviews: 9 | Display Reviews Only:
3.88/5 rDev -6.7%
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.
06-27-2010 20:58:29 | More by woodychandler
3.88/5 rDev -6.7%
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.
12-07-2009 16:31:31 | More by DaPeculierDane
3.96/5 rDev -4.8%
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.
05-10-2013 14:30:53 | More by leedorham
4/5 rDev -3.8%
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.
10-10-2010 19:17:50 | More by beerwolf77
4.05/5 rDev -2.6%
This was my second visit to Alchemy, the first time being the Surly/TBS pre-party for Great Taste of the Midwest last year.
I really like the feel of the place, a laid back airy cafe kind of vibe with low key music playing in the afternoon. The bar is elevated, towards the back left end of the room. Tables in the front windows, and another elevated seating area in the back. Wood floors and railings, plenty of sunlight in the day, local art on the walls, and a small patio area out front too.
Taps were largely local, a few exclusives like Capital Hop Bock and Bells 3rd Coast Old Ale (keg had just blown though), New Holland Existential, and local standbys like Ale Asylum Hopalicious. They had maybe 20-25 bottles of various stuff listed on the menu, nothing too wild but a decent variety. Also some creative mixed drinks, one used Rogue Spruce gin.
Didn't try the food, but our table ordered a few appetizers and they were a cut above typical bar food. There seemed to be a good amount of organic stuff on the menu. Alchemy is a great neighborhood place and i'd return anytime when visiting Madison.
05-04-2009 14:57:28 | More by emerge077
Alchemy in Madison, WI
92 out of 100 based on 18 ratings.