Alchemy, which calls itself a modern American eatery, quietly opened today on The Avenue—in the same block of 36th Street as Grano Pasta Bar, right next to Suzie’s Soba. Owners Debi Bell-Matassa and Michael Matassa couldn’t be happier to be cooking and feeding diners again.
In many ways, the restaurant is already a success for the couple, who had to close their popular Fusion Grille in Fallston in 2005 after Debi’s breast cancer came back “with a vengeance the second time,” she said. With two children and a heavy chemo regimen, they couldn’t continue to operate the restaurant.
Now, they’re ringing in the new year with a new venture, excited at another chance to be restaurateurs. While Michael is the executive chef, Debi is the sommelier and pastry chef.
Looking happy and healthy, Debi showed me around Alchemy this afternoon. The couple renovated the building, which once housed the former Grill Art Cafe.
The setting is polished and sophisticated—her “New York,” Debi said—but comfortable and welcoming. Even the bathrooms are gorgeous.
Downstairs, pictured in part, the bare tables (the wood was retrieved from an Amish barn and sanded and refinished) and leopard-seat chairs (recycled, like just about everything else in the restaurant, from a defunct eatery) have a casual feel. Upstairs, a sleek stainless-steel bar has a handful of white-leather stools in a romantic dining room that has white-cloth-covered tables for a more intimate experience.
Oh, yes, the food. Today, lunch diners were oohing and aahing over the Mojito mussels (with rum, mint, and roasted garlic) and a beautifully presented smoked-fish plate (Michael smokes the fish there).
The menu offers various twists to traditional dishes (like the Calypso hummus made with butterscotch bean) and other creative fare in a variety of prices. For instance, for dinner, you can get a huge cowboy steak for $29 (the most expensive entree) or chicken and dumplings with a salad for $17. Diners can also opt for a flatbread for $10 or something from the “beginnings” list like scallops Provençal for $12.
Alchemy is also serving Sunday brunch, “the only champagne brunch on The Avenue,” Debi said. Offerings include a Baltimore Benedict with Old Bay sausage, crepes, a strawberry blintz omelet, and lots more.
Photo by me