Back in the Middle Ages, alchemy was the process in which gold was supposed to be transformed from base metal. Guess what? It didn't work! I think the more modern definition, from Webster's, fits this restaurant now: "A power or process of transforming something common into something special." Guess what? It works at Alchemy!
The restaurant is in an old Victorian hotel (The Winchester Inn). In the warmer months, the garden would be a nice area to dine in al fresco.
Service was very good, which is not always the norm in Ashland. When we arrived, our coats were hung up for us and we were immediately taken to our table. Used silverware was replaced. The pacing of the meal was good.
My dining companion and I had come for their advertised 3-course dinner special for $35. It began with Stuffed Endives (roasted beets, stilton cheese, pumpkin seeds, tarragon vinaigrette) and was very nicely presented. The beets weren't too strong and the flavor was good.
The second course was a choice of Clam Chowder or Butter Leaf Salad. My companion had the chowder. Again, it was nicely presented and he liked it very much. I enjoyed the salad (herbed goat cheese, candied sunflower seeds, beet wedges, honey tarragon and shallot vinaigrette), but personally I don't care too much for beets, so I had to leave them alone. It was presented as half a head of butter lettuce, drizzled with the dressing, with the beets in a row next to the lettuce. Very pretty.
Our third course offered Baked Halibut with Scallop. Because the restaurant had initially told my dining companion that the offering would be Skate in Tempura Batter, he was a bit disappointed, until our server returned and told us that the kitchen would be able to prepare the skate for him. I had the halibut, and they both were excellent. I had a very nice risotto with my fish, and the large scallop on each of our entrees was perfectly cooked.
For dessert, we split a Creme Brulee with Orange and Cardamon. I thought it was fine, but my companion had some trouble detecting some of the flavors. The crust on top needed to be thicker so that our spoons could really break down into the custard. Dessert was not part of the dinner special.
The wine and cocktail prices were on the high side, which kept our ordering down to a half bottle of an Oregon Pinot Gris, which even then came to $15.
All in all, Alchemy is one of the best restaurants in Ashland, with perfectly cooked food showing some nice creativity.
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