Smoke and mirrors: the newest brunch spot in Chester


When I think of alchemy I don’t necessarily connect that with eggs benedict or a full English breakfast – but it seems that Alchemist does. And why not! Food is chemistry on many levels I suppose. And then there is the chemistry between people, and that’s where it all started to fold like a house of cards.



But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s rewind a little. It all started with something as simple as a suit.



Hubby and I are not in town often on a Saturday morning for numerous reasons (most involving a hangover or work) but this weekend it just so happened that hubby had to try on a suit for his brother’s wedding. So we were up early, in town early and in the fitting room early. And that, let me tell you, is hungry work.



So post-measuring there was nothing else for it – we were at the verge of hangry (the state where you are hungry and angry on an equal measure) and brunch it had to be.



Enter the Alchemist, the newest kid on the block in Chester’s cocktail scene. I know what that sounds like guys (Kat’s getting a little afternoon tipsy again), but honestly, “molecular mixology” (whatever that means) isn’t all they do – I heard they throw together a pretty mean brunch menu as well.



Remember Gin Rickeys? That’s where they are. Just across the road from the Amphitheatre. Alchemist still has the same bones, but it’s made some changes as well. More skulls and potion bottles for sure – also some other funky features. I have this nagging feeling that the really fancy bobble-lights were remnants of Gin Rickeys but I could be wrong. But anyway, I digress.



Downstairs is reserved for molecular mixology magic, and upstairs is where you fill your belly. You could have those crazy cocktails with your food if the mood took you, but seeing it wasn’t even midday yet, we were more inclined to order a coffee.



Positives: the staff can recite their coffee menu from memory. Negative: it takes two of them and 20 minutes to deliver it. I don’t want to come across being too harsh on a new place that is probably still finding its feet, but if something gives me the creeps, it’s this: confusing service.



Whereas chatty and sweet, the staff seemed somewhat distracted. I’m not sure if it was because they’re still learning the ropes or because there were about five members of staff per bruncher and they just didn’t know what to do with themselves, but what I do know is that we got served by three different people, food took a long while considering the room was occupied by three couples and I had to order my coffee twice and it still arrived only a fraction before my eggs benedict.



That’s what I had, by the way. Eggs benedict. My favourite brunch food in the world. And regardless of the haphazard manner it found its way in front of me it was sublime. Near perfect poached eggs, adequately toasted muffin, a high-rise pile of roasted ham and home-made hollandaise sauce – huzzah. Hubby’s Belgian style waffles with poached eggs and bacon drenched in maple syrup was also a revelation. So the food was crazy fine.



And still we left feeling a little empty. Like it’s style over substance just a little too much. I mean sure, it’s really cool to have a cup of tea with a witches cauldron effect, but if that cup of tea turns out to be a lacklustre one, the smoke and mirrors are kind of irrelevant. The food is crazy good, but you enjoy it a tad bit less when you have to wait for it until you’re almost beyond hungry. The staff are really sweet, but so disorganised even you get confused about what’s going on and why.



I don’t know guys. Did my chemistry just not gel with the Alchemist? Is this just teething problems? Should I have loved the smoking tea more? What was the fabulous red lipstick that waitress put on at the bar? I have so many questions.


Have you been to the Alchemist? Tell me all about it in the comments.


The Alchemist Bar & Restaurant


  • This place looks incredibly cool but so sorry to hear about the bad service!

    Alice | Dainty Alice

  • This looks like such a cool place – their aesthetic is amazing! I’m sorry to hear you didn’t love it, and hopefully you’re right that its just teething issues! Brunch is the best though, so I’m glad the food was up to standard!
    Emily xx

  • Ashleigh Lianne

    Not sure I agree with you here, I paid a visit recently and got brilliant service, so maybe it was simply teething problems?
    I did notice there was a high volume of staff, BUT I’ve been into countless places in Chester where it’s impossible to find a waiter anywhere, so it’s nice that this place clearly has the staff behind it.

    I’ll be sure to get the Eggs Benedict next time I visit!

    • Katja Knox

      Teething problems, bad day at the office, it could be any number of any things! These things do happen, even if you have an army of staff. I mean I think it’s great that they have a lot of staff but maybe they just needed a bit of guidance.

      The Eggs Bennie there are a total babe. And the waffles a close second. If you brunch there SANS eggs bennie you’re missing out.


      • Ashleigh Lianne

        You must try the avo on toast (with poached eggs and bacon).. now THAT is some next level stuff, trust me!

  • When you have to wait so long that your stomach hurts, it is not something to come back for after the first visit. A let-down for sure!

  • Kanishka Acharya

    Oh my God their concept is brilliant and the place looks incredible! Great picture btw. But I really enjoyed learning your honest opinion! I honestly hate two situations when there are too many staff or very less staff. The very less ones makes you feel helpless as a hungry eater venturing into a restuarant and when there are too many they really dont understand what they should do next and all they end up doing is watch you hog XD

  • Sabra Wineteer

    I live in a small, untrendy town, so style over substance isn’t much of an issue. But it’s got to be about the FOOD! I loathe shelling out money for a meal I can make better at home.

  • Jasmin N

    That place looks so cosy! It has a funny name though 😀

  • Hannah Chau

    I feel that, as a chemist, I need to try smoking tea, at least once in my life?

    • Katja Knox

      I don’t think the smoke brings any added flavour to the tea, I’m afraid. Style over substance definitely on this one. xx

  • Lara Oliveira

    Great, honest review. I get this feeling a lot, too. Especially living in London, where it’s such a competitive industry, restaurants go to great lengths to stand and out and be trendy, more often than not missing the mark. And then in smaller towns… when they’re trying to copy what they see in the big city and with no clue, ai ai ai… Nonetheless, sounds like the food was good, they just need to take customer feedback into consideration and improve their service.


    • Katja Knox

      Definitely! I think this may have been teething problems which will iron themselves out in time but there’s a lot of choice in Chester so you gotta get it right. Next time, eh?