I’d seen work being done on a building on St Gregory’s Alley a few months back while I was eating chips from Grosvenor Fish Bar. Actually it must have been quite a few months ago, as on this occasion I believe I was eating outdoors, which never happens as much as I’d like due to the lovely English weather, and me being a wimp. Anyway, there were some painters inside and the door was propped open as the frame had been painted. I’m always intrigued and excited about new things opening up in Norwich, I love to explore or try anything new. The printed text in the window said ‘Alchemista – Coffee Potions’, this got me even more excited. I love a good coffee and potions made
I made a mental note to keep a check of this place, see what it’s like when it opened.
Fast forward a little and I was mindlessly scrolling through Instagram. That’s what much of social media is isn’t it? Mindless. So I was browsing through the many images and life updates when I came across something mentioning Alchemista. I can’t remember what it was, a repost, a person I follow (is there a name for them… followee?) or one of those adverts aimed specifically at you by the little trolls in my phone. I ramble. A lightbulb went off and I was reminded of the little cafe I saw being refurbished. I instantly become an Alchemista follower, with the intention of visiting someday soon.
That day came.
A friend and I were wondering where to have lunch for our next catch up, when I remember seeing a deal on the Alchemista Instagram. Coffee and a roll/sandwich for £5. Not bad at all.
When we arrived I remembered that the cafe had a small wonky step at the door (I’m always subconsciously making mental notes of access details). I didn’t think this would be a problem, and it wasn’t. I aimed for the lowest side of the wonky step and managed fine. This might be a little tricky for a less robust wheelchair though, they may need a bit of a shove. The door was of an average size.
Alchemista was fairly small inside, a row of high stools by the windows along with a few tables. There is seating upstairs too, no good for myself but great for your average ‘walking’ joe.
The cafe had a kind of ‘steampunk’ machinery theme going on. Lots of wood and metal, the tables had rivets across them.
Speaking of tables the one we had and I think the others downstairs were at a perfect height for me to wheel up to and fit my knees underneath. There were no big table legs or anything causing an obstacle.
Luckily it didn’t seem too busy on this day so there were a couple of downstairs tables free. Seated in the perfect spot I could people watch through the large window. Opposite was The Birdcage bar/pub. It’s a lovely spot for a cafe really, away from the hustle and bustle of the main shopping area, near the quaint little independent shops of Norwich Lanes.
On to the good stuff!
The rolls all looked really tasty and stuffed to the brim, but once I’d seen there were sausage rolls I just couldn’t resist. A sausage roll is a bit like my bad food guilty pleasure. I can be rather fussy, I like a good quality sausage with plenty of flavour, a crisp and fluffy pastry. Alchemista didn’t fail me! The size and quality were well worth the £2.20.
Even though this sausage roll was extremely delicious, up there with the best in Norwich, I didn’t quite finish it. I need to save room for a slice of cake I told myself. Also I could feel the burn of my friends eyes on me hoping there would be some leftovers! Joking (not joking), I also wanted her opinion on the sausage roll, as we are somewhat sausage roll connoisseurs!
Let them eat cake!
The only problem was which one to choose. They all looked rather tasty but the Lime and Zucchini cake caught my eye. Lime is probably my favourite flavour, and I quite like courgette (yes it’s courgette), but I’d never tried them combined in a cake. I have now and aren’t I glad! The texture of the cake was fluffy and magical. You know the texture of carrot cake? Well I’m guessing zucchini/courgette does the same thing, because this has similarities. There was what I would describe as lime curd running through the centre, which was zesty and fresh but not too tart due to the creamy frosting. Pistachios sprinkled on the top finished it off nicely for me. They are my favourite nut. What I’m trying to say is that this cake is amazing, one of the BEST cakes I have ever eaten. I’ve had my fair share of cake! I would go back for the cake alone.
I know Alchemista is all about the coffee but I really fancied tea and they had a good selection. I went for the chai. It arrived in a pot with teacup on the side, it was spicy and warming.
I asked if it were possible to swap my teacup for a takeaway cup. ‘Of course’ I was told. Yes a takeaway cup. I know it’s not great for the environment. We’ve been through this a bit with the straws (I also used one of those) but I cannot lift a teacup myself, and need a little independence. Actually this cup was made from a type of card. A bit like a Starbucks cup material (devil word) I know Starbucks aren’t easily recycled. This one might be. I aim to find out. Not that I currently have much choice.
As I didn’t taste the roll or the coffee, plus my friend thieved some of my sausage roll, I asked her to give her thoughts…
‘I really enjoyed visiting Alchemista, I felt the value for money was great, I had a Latte which I really enjoyed even if it was a bit small for my liking (I like big cups of coffee). I purchased an egg and salad roll, I loved it, it was properly filled and very filling, unlike a lot of places, the bun itself was lovely like a fresh bakery roll. I also tried some of the sausage roll, which again was lovely although not the best I’ve ever tried it was tasty and the meat was really nice. We had some cake, I have to say Gemmas cake was amazing even though it’s something I wouldn’t normally try, I decided to go for the chocolate cake (who doesn’t love chocolate) however my cake although nice was quite dry and hard to get through. Ended up very jealous of Gemma! Also I would 100% recommend the place for quality and price.’
I totally agree with my friend here, Alchemista is definitely great value for money, the quality right up there, but still affordable. The staff were friendly and I couldn’t fault the service.
I’ve recently seen on Instagram (the dangerous thing it is!) that from mid March Alchemista with be serving afternoon tea. I take it as my duty to serve you people by trialling this soon!
Also I haven’t had the cocktails yet…..