Back when Alchemy Cafe’s dark wood-paneled, dimly orange lighted exterior deeply intimidated me, I avoided reviewing the vegan-friendly, REAP BFBL partner restaurant for fear that a rowdy drunkard would engage me in a bar fight (or some other equally ridiculous reason). However, after finally shoving my fears aside and patronizing the surprisingly classy pub with Mira and Maria in a past review, I fell in love with their locally sourced, organic menu, especially their unbelievable Maize Salad.
The other day, I ventured once again to Alchemy, this time with one of my most loyal eating companions, Maddie, and her nicest-man-in-the-entire-galaxy boyfriend, Teague. He usually attends school in Fort Collins, Colorado, but flew back for Thanksgiving…and of course to have lunch with me (hence the “Reuniting” title of this post). Both Maddie and Teague greatly appreciate the organic, local food movement at the heart of Madison culture, so I thought Alchemy Cafe would please them. Besides, the only other criteria demanded by the power couple comprised of “make sure it’s delicious.” Check.
Upon entering Alchemy, their chalkboard inspired incredible happiness on my part after glimpsing their vegetable special of the day: sauteed brussels sprouts. The mini-cabbages just so happen to be one of my favorite veggies (one of many, I suppose, but that certainly comes with the territory of veganism), and thus Alchemy Cafe won yet another gold star on my chart of restaurant approval.
Teague, inquiring of the origin of Alchemy’s beef from the waitress, exclaimed “I can eat meat here!” once assured that the cows were local and grass-fed. Enthused, he ordered the AppleRum Burger topped with sweet onion-rum relish, lettuce, tomato, and Wisconsin cheddar. To Maddie’s astonishment, Teague cleared his plate around the time she had taken the first bite of her Matilda sandwich—roasted winter squash with basil, red onion, swiss, and gorgonzola-herb dressing on a bun (hold the tomatoes). Teague also finished the scraps of Maddie’s, a notorious plate un-cleaner at restaurants, but both of them attested to the deliciousness of their two sandwiches and their respective sides—sauteed brussels sprouts and buttermilk mashed potatoes.
No surprise, I ordered my favorite Maize Salad, composed of the most succulent spicy chickpeas marinated in cilantro, lime, and chili then tossed in a roasted corn and shallot dressing sitting atop a bed of gorgeous mixed greens, red onions, and orange bell peppers. Sheer heaven in legume form. And accompanied by brussels sprouts? Alchemy Cafe made me a very happy diner.
Meal Checklist: Protein—chickpeas. Whole Grain—none (I’m becoming more accustomed to not including a grain when I eat out because not very many restaurants offer nonrefined ones, unfortunately). Vegetables—red onions, bell peppers. Leafy Greens—mixed greens, brussels sprouts.
While we dined, we chuckled at the Packers fans sitting at the small bar, donning their throw-back jerseys and screaming cries of agony or joy with each play. They reminded me of my own parents, staring raptly at the television at that very moment watching the same game and yelling just as loudly. Oh, sports people.
Until next time, Ali.