Alchemy, Madison, WI

I'd heard from co-workers early on in my time that Alchemy had one of the best burgers in the area. Being something of a burger fan and aficionado, I've wanted to try this place for some time now. That time came this past weekend when I decided to throw caution to the wind, jump on the bike for a 1.5m ride, and head on in for a helping of beef.

The scene was bustling as I walked in. It's a multi-level kind of layout, with the bar in the upper left corner. I made my way over and wound up having to stand for just a little bit as some of the people seated at the bar got seated in in the dining room. I ordered a fall pumpkin brew and took it all in. Once seated, I spent some time with the menu below, but mostly just to make sure which burger I wanted to order - "the AppleRum Burger, Deluxe, please."

It was also nice to know they have a varied menu and could satisfy most palettes and dietary needs. I happened to sit right by the kitchen at the end of the bar and watched much of the food come out for other diners. All of it looked good, with the Flank steak being really popular and inexpensive (to my mind).  

It being a Saturday night with a concert happening at a venue nearby, this place was hopping. The kitchen had plates stacked out the door and onto the bar counter. I was pretty impressed, surprised, and entertained by the circus of it all. Kitchen staff, Wait staff, and the bartenders - everyone was all hands on deck. 

It must have taken a good 30-45 minutes for my order to arrive. Frankly, I was fine with it. The bartenders took kindly on this sad sack and chatted with me on and off. Once the burger arrived, for those that know me, it didn't spend too much time on the plate. It was delicious from the first bite, with solid, steak-cut fries alongside. 

(Funny, tasty Cheddar cheese clearly melted in first pic, not melted in second pic)

After the first course, I decided to order one of their fancier cocktails (blamed partly on the 8.6% ABV in the first beer I had) and decided to try their Alchemy Old Fashioned. Well, it's not a normal whiskey-cherry-orange type Old Fashioned, and I didn't really like it. To be clear, its taste matched the description of ingredients, it just wasn't what I was looking to drink. I mentioned this to the bartender and she happily traded it out for another pumpkin beer on their seasonal tap. Thanks, Ma'am.

Due in part to my drink ordering gaff and the fact that it was nice to be in the middle of a bustling place on a Saturday night, I decided to order one of their dessert offerings, sourced from local Honey Bee Bakery. It was touted as a fancy butternut squash cheesecake with marshmallow frosting. I have to say, it was just ok. No flavors really stood out or wowed me. And as a fan of marshmallow, the limp pool of something white on top was nowhere near what I was expecting or hoped for - I thought it was a meringue, not marshmallow. It's ok, I'm still glad I tried it. I think if I'd seen it first, I would have chosen differently, so bad on me for not asking more about it. 

Having said all that, I'd absolutely go back. The service was excellent, the food was solid, and the atmosphere was perfect for an autumn Saturday night in Wisconsin. I also realized afterwards that the drinks made me mistakenly undertip, so I really need to make amends for that too (Sorry, Kat!).

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