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RESTAURANT REVIEW

THE ALCHEMIST Charlotte Beauvoisin visits The Alchemist known for their creative cocktails to try their food. Although the vegetarian options are lacking, Charlotte and her friend enjoy a meat platter and some delicious cocktails. If attention to quirky detail is one of the mainstays of modern design, then to prove the point, the creators of the Alchemist went all out. With a large indoor outdoor style covered space, mismatched leather sofas, upholstered day beds and fixtures and fittings made of wood, ropes and copper, this Bugolobi hotspot aims to please even the most discerning style and design aficionados. On a recent visit with a friend we instantly gravitated towards the chill area which is cleverly divided from the dining section of the restaurant by attractive floor to ceiling chainlink curtains. While reclining on our comfortable cushions, we decided it would be rude not to try at least one of the house cocktails and so it was that at 5pm on a Wednesday we were to be found clutching a Cosmopolitan and a Mojito in our respective hands. Because one cocktail is never enough, I decided to continue my imbibing with a uniquely Ugandan concoction known as the 256 Punch; my friend instead just could not resist the Pornstar Martini. The Pornstar Martini is served in a classic, martini glass. I’m talking 1930s

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Manhattan here. In the middle of the glass, floating delicately, sits half a passionfruit. The tangy, foamy top of this gorgeous cocktail lasted sip after sip. The cocktail’s pièce de resistance is the Prosecco (sparkling Italian wine) served in a tiny shot glass as an accompaniment to the main attraction. The waitress advised my friend drink this first “to clear the palate.” After a cocktail each, we decided to move to the dining room where Francis, the chef, took a few moments to run through the menu. In the background the bar staff rattled ice cubes in cocktail shakers. Bar Bites (ideal for sharing) are all priced at 25,000UGX and include home-made meatballs, half roast chicken, fish fingers and The Alchemist Skewers (three skewers of beef, chicken or pork). Mixed platters of beef, chicken, meatballs, chicken wings, fish fingers (and tartare sauce) are perfect for four or six people to share. If you’re a burger lover, they feature both on the main menu and on the Bar Bites menu, where Sliders or ‘mini burgers’ are available. Dining at The Alchemist is all about the meat. Between the two of us, we

sampled chicken, beef, pork and lamb. Every single piece was delicious. Main meals – termed Large Plates on The Alchemist menu - cost between 32,000UGX to 35,000UGX and are served on hefty terracotta plates with chunky cutlery. I could feel my stomach rumbling as soon as I saw that cutlery. I knew we would not go home hungry that night. Pan-fried spiced Nile Perch with a warm lemon dressing sounded very enticing. Unfortunately, it wasn’t on the menu on the evening of my visit so I tucked into the mixed grill, one skewer each of big chunks of pork with green pepper, chicken and beef. Each skewer of meat was moist and evenly cooked. My vibrant, crunchy salad combined tomato, lettuce, cucumber, green, red and yellow peppers and a little bit of onion in a sweet but subtle dressing. “Ten times better than any salad we've eaten elsewhere” my companion and I agreed. I loved the variety of vegetables in this substantial salad - a good contrast to the carnivore overload. When ordering a large plate, diners can choose a sauce to accompany

it. The pepper sauce was the best I’ve sampled in a long time: smooth without overkill of the taste buds. I highly recommend the mushroom sauce too as it most definitely hit the spot. My friend’s herb-marinated lamb chops were incredibly tender, thanks to the garlic and cumin and coriander marinade. “Lamb is very hard to get right in Uganda,” she told me, but with it’s slightly pink middle this definitely passed the test. The lamb chops were accompanied by a huge dollop of mashed potatoes and spinach. However a little garnish would have brightened up the plate. I felt a little disappointed not to see any desserts on The Alchemist menu but to be honest, I certainly didn't have room to eat anything more. Overall the Alchemist’s food was wholesome and reassuringly uncomplicated. On a wednesday it can be pretty laid-back but come back on the weekend and find this popular hangout jumping with energy as local DJs spin their magic on the decks.

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