The Alchemist’s winter update: interactive starters and ethical mains

The new menu combines wholesome winter eats and tasty lunchtime treats.

16 October 2019

Last year, the big news on The Alchemist’s winter menu change was the addition of the Moving Mountains burger. While that plant-based patty is still going strong, Executive Chef Seamus O’Donnell has got even more creative for 2019.

“Our Autumn/Winter menu is a twist on classic dishes, providing a warming level of comfort as we enter the colder months,” he tells Food Spark.

Here, he picks three highlights.

1. Chorizo & Cheddar Dough Balls

“We’ve literally injected some theatre into a new starter, the Chorizo & Cheddar Dough Balls,” says O’Donnell of this playful item.

These savoury spheres come with their very own syringes, allowing guests to control exactly how much cheddar cheese they want inside each fried mouthful.

Interactive foods are popular this Christmas season in retailers – including in a drunken cheese kit – while personalisation had been on the innovation radar for several years, as chains experiment with everything from DNA tests to customisable bowl food.

“We’re confident this will be a starting staple for regular guests and a great introduction to those new.”

2. Braised Beef Ragu

Warming spices of kimchi and toasted coconut accent this twist on Asian sesame noodles, which also incorporates beef shin.

“We’ve harnessed the less popular shin cut of meat and transformed this into a menu stand out,” comments O’Donnell.

Earlier this year, Waitrose noted that searches for beef shin had risen 59% on its site as consumers sought out affordable but tasty cuts, and it has been popping up in a number of recipes – street food operator Up In My Grill recently turned it into nuggets.

“This dish is also part of our ‘meal for meal’ initiative,” adds The Alchemist’s executive chef. “When this dish is purchased, we’ll donate a hot meal to those in need, all with the help of the Foodinate charity.”

Other options on the menu that are part of the Foodinate campaign include existing favourites like the duck and vegetable gyozas from Ajinomoto Foods.

3. Kale & Hazelnut Pesto Fusilli

The menu refresh isn’t all about hearty evening grub: there are also some lighter options that are suitable for lunchtime too.

These include a fusilli-based pasta dish made with kale, hazelnut pesto, tenderstem broccoli, cherry tomatoes and crispy capers. Although it is primarily a vegan dish, carnivorous diners can add roast chicken to the plate too.

There’s also a take on Chinese classic special fried rice, featuring prawns, squid and assorted vegetables, topped with a fried eff.

“Simply, this menu encourages our guests to hunker down, and eat up!” concludes O’Donnell.

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