Burger Gold

When it comes to reviewing restaurants, inspiration (or coincidence in some cases) can come from many sources. With regards to Alchemy, guess who/what inspired it. Word of mouth from friends? Nope. An online review? Nah. A chance encounter while on a temporary job assignment? Uh-uh. One of my favorite South Park characters? No. A beautiful and sexy waitress? Wrong. For this review, I owe it all to Chef. And no, it's not this guy, but rather Chef Jason Doty. Jason is the executive chef of Bluff City Bakery (sister company of Bluff City Coffee) who invited me to dinner after reading my last installment of The Battle of The Downtown Memphis Sliders. He wanted me to try Alchemy's Donnell Century Farms Beef Sliders featuring brioche buns from Bluff City Bakery. I had always intended to visit the restaurant, so I gladly accepted Jason's invitation.
Alchemy, like many restaurants in Memphis' Cooper-Young neighborhood, is an upscale establishment that caters to the young and hip. The eatery specializes in Modern American cuisine in the form of tapas, which are small entrées that are usually served with wine and cocktails. One positive about this style of service is the many combinations of food that one could potentially come up with for a meal. It can get expensive if a person has a huge appetite, but it might be worth it if the quality is as good as Alchemy's. Speaking of huge appetites, Alchemy's sliders are very satisfying because the three little burgers are a hearty meal by themselves.
Alchemy's sliders consist of Donnell Century Farms ground beef and topped with pimento cheese. The choice of cheese was a departure from what I normally see on a burger. However, given that Alchemy's nearby competitor Next Door also has a pimento burger, the cheese seems to be trending in Cooper-Young. Although I initially found it to be an odd choice, it actually works well for the burger. The pimento's pastiness allows it to blend well into the beef, resulting in a creamy fusion of flavor. Speaking of the beef, its best quality was the leanness of it. As far as I could tell, the fat content of the beef was low, which translates into high quality meat. Obviously, Alchemy doesn't skimp on meat or other ingredients, matching restaurants like The Majestic Grille in terms of quality. Even though the meat and cheese combo was great, it wasn't even the best part of the sliders.
If the pimento cheese and ground beef are the Brad Pitt and Jamie Foxx of Alchemy's sliders, then the brioche bun is its Christoph Waltz (I know I'm mixing two Quentin Tarantino movies into one metaphor). Normally, I don't talk about the bun when I review a burger. To me, it's a support piece that keeps everything together. Occasionally, I find a bun good enough to give special mention. The brioche bun from Bluff City Bakery is the perfect choice for Alchemy's slider. The bun's fluffiness and sweet dough flavor can go well with almost anything. With regards to pimento cheese, the bun meshes well with it, even without ground beef. The sesame seeds that top it add a nice touch to it, rounding out a well crafted bread roll. The bun made the difference in the sliders being great as opposed to merely good. For that, I give kudos to Chef Jason and his staff for making one of the best burger buns in Memphis.

From top left, going clockwise: Donnell Century Farms Beef Sliders, Shrimp & Grits,
Smoked Salmon, Capers and other sides, and Caramel Apple Creme Brûlée.
Photo taken by Jason Doty
In addition to the sliders, Jason and I had appetizers and dessert. While the appetizers (salmon, capers, etc.) were okay, the dessert was superb. It consisted of three dollops of some of the best cheesecake that I've ever had. I started off with the Pumpkin. Spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, it tasted like its pie counterpart that most are familiar with. Proceeding down the line, my second piece was the Dulce di Leche, which had a sweet minty flavor accentuated by the dusting of nuts sprinkled over them. Last but not least, the Maple was a delight to eat. Covered with maple syrup and topped with pecans, it had a nice mix of nutty and sweet flavor. It was sort of like eating a Stuckey's Pecan Log from back in the day (geez, I'm getting old). In all, the cheesecake dessert was great and will have me coming back for more.

The dessert was a nice ending to a fabulous dinner at Alchemy. I want to thank Chef Jason for treating me to dinner, and I hope to return the favor someday. As for my impression of Alchemy, I can say nothing but positive things about it. The food at Alchemy is first class. From entrées such as Roasted Artichoke Hearts with Baby Arugula to its meaty and spicy Chorizo and Louisiana Mac 'n Cheese, you're not likely to find anything bad on Alchemy's menu. The décor of the place is very comforting and artsy, which fits in with the Cooper-Young atmosphere. It's good enough to keep me coming back, which I will try to do often.

NOTE: After writing this review, I learned Jason Doty is a very bad guy with a violent streak. Obviously, I wouldn't have accepted his dinner offer if I had known that he was a scummy douchebag who likes hitting women and kids. Unfortunately, his penchant for violence led him to cracking the skull of his three-month old son. That despicable act eventually got Doty a conviction of aggravated child neglect and a 25 year prison sentence (smacking a baby is called "neglect!?" Was Johnnie Cochran his lawyer?). Well, it's a given that I'm not treating him to dinner anytime soon, if ever. It seems that I need to do a better job vetting people before hanging out with and praising them.


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