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Dining Review


location > 1503 30th Street, San Diego
phone > 619-255-0616
chef > Matt Corbett & Ricardo Heredia

FUSION CUISINE REFERS to the marriage of two or more international influences — most often, East meets West. But at Alchemy in South Park, fusion spills over into music, art, culture and architecture, adding up to a worldly new neighborhood restaurant that knows no borders. Soundtracks — selected by staffers with uncanny good taste — move easily from flamenco to jazz to Motown. Art, from a variety of contributors, changes regularly, save for the stunning steel tree that stretches from floor to ceiling and forms the sinuous focal point of the dining room. And the cuisine is artful too, treating fresh, often-local ingredients with a minimum of fuss for maximum flavor.

More than two years in the making (a fire interrupted early construction), Alchemy is the culmination of multiple dreams — the number of chefs and partners involved. The managing partners are childhood friends Ron Troyano and Matt Thomas; Manhattan-based consulting chef Matt Corbett (Punch) developed the menu, while chef Ricardo Heredia ably executes it.

“It’s our first restaurant, and we wanted to do every thing ourselves,” says Thomas. Indeed, the team members built the tables, poured and finished the concrete bar, painted the walls a sunny Provençal yellow and created the cool, loungy vibe of the interior.

“Snacks and smalls” form the first half of the lineup: bite-size snacks, salads and small plates from $4 to $8. Sweet piquillo peppers stuffed with spicy pulled pork ($4) are a must-have, as are the snapping-crisp fries dusted with Parmesan cheese and served with potent garlic dip ($4). A generous serving of ceviche ($8) veers from tradition with sweet mango pickle and a topping of fried plantains perfect for scooping up the mixture.

On the more substantial side, Alchemy’s grass-fed beef burger with Manchego cheese ($10) is sided by a hefty haystack of fries. The Jidori half-chicken — crisp-skinned outside and juicy within ($16) — is one of the better birds in town. And the cocoa-rubbed pork tenderloin is sensibly savory, not sweet, ably paired with a pear chutney and mini-skillet of mashed sweet potatoes served on the side ($17).

Desserts go for $6 and can easily satisfy two. Or choose a glass of port or absinthe to wind down your evening. Whether you sit at the bar manned by barkeeps who take pride in their cocktails, or at one of the plain wooden tables, service is genuinely friendly and efficient, not rushed.

In addition to a full bar, Alchemy offers an extensive wine list that veers far from the ordinary. Wines are chosen from regions throughout the world: Portugal, Argentina, Italy, South Africa. Though you won’t find many bottles under $30, we applaud the notion of serving multiple Vouvrays, Tempranillos and Grenache blends under the same roof, as well Belgium’s Stella Artois on draft and Chimay by the bottle.

Expect the menu to shift every few months according to the season, and take note of the chef’s vegetarian tasting menu, presented each Wednesday and based on the best of the local farmers’ markets. Both are proof that Alchemy is committed to turning fresh local ingredients into culinary gold.

Alchemy serves dinner nightly and brunch on Saturday and Sunday at 1503 30th Street (at Beech Street), South Park, 619-255-0616; alchemysandiego.com.

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