Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Alchemy- San Diego Restaurant

Turning greens to gold
“I don’t even like vegetables and I come here for the vegetables.” My friend had said it best. Never had I been so enamored with Brussels sprouts, chard or beets. Their small portions were surprisingly filling and the price was right (entrees around $10-15.) Menu items changed seasonally, which could cause trouble for an, “I’ll have the usual” customer like me, but this time the seasonal switch-a-roo worked in my favor.

Spring Menu
Beet it: My friend and I decided to try the goat cheese ravioli, but I was skeptical of its beet reduction. Beet’s earthy nature had never been my favorite and now I was worried they’d ruin my starchy pockets of goodness, but they only enhanced the creaminess of the goat cheese. The reduction was mixed with a bit of balsamic and added just enough sweetness to balance the dish. Who knew? I like beets!

Sprout-prise: The menu selection was rather limited and more on the healthy side, but my friend insisted I have the halibut. Perfect…until I saw it rested on a bed of Brussels sprouts- eww. But again, my judgmental mind gave way to an appeased palate. The halibut was flaky, moist and married seamlessly with the sautéed sprouts and caramelized walnuts. The buttery depth of the nut brought out a silky, sweetness in the sprout that I never thought possible. Who knew? I like Brussels sprouts!

Summer Menu
Veggie Voyeur: I would never have ordered this lasagna if it had been preceded by the word, “vegetable”, but disguised under the pseudonym, “market fresh”, I was lured towards a dish I wouldn’t normally order. Intrigued with its five layers (sautéed spinach, roasted cremini mushrooms, grilled eggplant, basil, ricotta and fresh mozzarella) along with the promise of fresh pasta, I was ready for the show. Each ingredient retained its own character, but came together like a Broadway production on my tongue- every bite was savored (bright lights, big finish.) Who knew? I like veggie lasagna!

Chard Card: I’ve never been a big fan of tuna steak and that’s why when my companion offered me a taste, I begrudgingly accepted. The problem was that after she offered me one bite, I kept asking for more. This plump piece of fish rested on a peppery chard that brought out the fruity appeal from small chunks of cantaloupe. Tossed lightly in sumac vinaigrette and crowned with crispy leeks, it was something I would have ordered myself. Who knew? I like chard (and tuna)!

Alchemy chose its name wisely- turning the ordinary into something valuable. I will promise to eat all my veggies, as long as they're serving.*

*Sunday brunch (10am-2pm) some items that sound yummy:
Bacon bloody Mary, shrimp and white cheddar grits and snap peas, Alchemy Poutine (shoestring fries / sausage gravy / mahon cheese / mushrooms / sunny side egg