This Easter holidays the weather has mostly been terrible. Rain, rain, a bit of wind and more rain. But I was determined we would get out at some point. When I noticed Oxford had a Gromit trail in the Westgate Centre over the holidays, I was so happy. I’ve seen lots of other cities have these trails, and been waiting for us to get one locally, so I persuaded N to come for a day trip to Oxford so we could check it out.
N is never keen to go to what he thinks of as a ‘shopping’ centre, but offer him a park and ride bus trip, and he’s happy enough. Add a lunch out and he’s even happier.
I’ve not taken N to the new Westgate Centre before, and hadn’t eaten in any of the restaurants, but having seen some of the cool drinks other bloggers have shared, I decided we would try The Alchemist for lunch. The restaurant is up on the top floor of the Westgate, so you can sit and look at all the views of the city, while enjoying the interesting decor inside.
Before we went to the table, the guy on the door let me check the children’s menu to make sure there was plenty of choice for N. I’d have hated to sit down to find N wouldn’t choose anything.
Our table was overlooking the terrace and the restaurant filled up nicely. The decor is really lovely. It’s got quite a dark feel, in keeping with it being more of a bar restaurant. The bar itself is pretty amazing with all the choice of drinks. The Alchemist is very focused on ‘scientific’ experimental cocktails. Unfortunately I was driving so had a mocktail, but there was still a fair choice for those who didn’t want alcohol.
There was a good amount of nosying at other people’s tables. The girl next door to us had a kale based cocktail – there was a serious amount of foliage in her glass which produced a lot of laughs from all the tables around us.
For children there’s either a choice of wraps or bento boxes. N wanted fish fingers first, but changed to burgers…which I then obviously ordered as the original choice. Oops. But when the fish fingers arrived and N refused to have that instead, the waiter was so good and offered to remake the burgers for him. They kept us updated on progress and it didn’t take long for him to get his replacement. The bento boxes are filling as there’s a lot there. But it’s nice to see veg sticks and tomatoes to make it a bit healthier. He chose beans over peas.
I’d chosen a cajun halloumi burger with chips on the side, and extra avocado in the burger. It does annoy me when restaurants have a main on the menu but nothing with it. Because why would you just order a burger and nothing else? Luckily the waitress did mention it to me so I ordered fries with it – there were 2 other fries options including sweet potato fries. The burger didn’t take a long time to arrive – they were certainly turning the food around quickly for a busy lunchtime. It was delicious. Not very cajun flavoured on the breadcrumbed halloumi burger. Although the coleslaw in the burger I had to take out because it was too spicy with the chillies in for me.
We couldn’t eat pudding. N’s children’s menu (which was on the back of a science themed activity booklet and crayons) said it came with pudding, but it didn’t say what and the waiter didn’t mention it when I asked for the bill. N said he didn’t have room, but we might have taken it away if possible.
With cocktails (handily there’s still water already on tables), having to order sides separately, and no price on the children’s menu I’d thought it was going to be quite an expensive lunch, but it was only around £25. Yes expensive for only 1 course and drinks, but not as bad as I expected. I was also able to use my Wesgate giftcard to pay (up to £50), so even more of a bargain!
Our meal was delicious, the service was really good, and I’m sure we’ll be back another time. For an evening meal overlooking the city and watching the sunset, The Alchemist could be a nice start to a night out in Oxford.
Have you eaten out at The Alchemist? Where do you recommend to eat in Oxford?
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