Posted: Thursday, January 14, 2016 3:00 am
By Joann Mackenzie Staff Writer
Alchemy, the first of 10 restaurant successes — including Latitude 43 — grown by the alchemic partnership of Mark McDonough and Jeff Cala, closed without fanfare this weekend, leaving its fans saying, “Say it isn’t so.”
The downtown Gloucester bistro, which opened in 2003, has been known to close before; once in 2010 for a lengthy renovation and reinvention, and again last winter when, for a short-lived interlude, it went by the name Pinoli, and served Northern Italian cuisine.
A collective sigh of relief was almost audible among local foodies when that chapter ended and the big bronze Alchemy sign once again assumed its rightful sovereignty at the corner of downtown Gloucester’s Duncan and Main streets.
Filled with intimate nooks and sumptuous seating, Alchemy was for 12 years a cultural and culinary anchor for Cape Ann foodies. The place felt more like a salon than a restaurant, and the food — new American regional cuisine locally sourced — was deliciously inventive and ambitious, boasting dishes such as Long Island Duck Breast with roasted mushrooms risotto, and Brussels sprout leaves and pomegranate gastrique.
Tucked snugly into a cozy semi-subterranean space, Alchemy may have been small, but it was a huge hit. And, despite its occasional identity crises, stayed a huge hit. Which is why, says Serenitee Restaurant Group’s McDonough, “we’re glad to go out on a high note.” Because this time, confirms McDonough, Alchemy really is closed. And what’s more, he’s glad it’s closed. Because when it re-opens — and it will reopen, he says, but under a new name — “we can do things that are not so tied to a genre, less fussy, more family.”
And, importantly, more affordable.
As the “first-born” in the Serenitee group, Alchemy has always occupied a special, if sometimes complicated niche. “We loved it too much,” says McDonough, speaking for himself and chef Cala.
“When it opened, fancy was the food to talk about, crazy, eclectic American food, and we were the first doing it on the island. We got to be a foodie destination, but we lost the family vibe. It was well loved, and stayed well loved. It had a great spirit, we were proud, maybe too proud of it, but it was no longer the way America wants to eat.”
How does America want to eat?
Read the full article at Gloucestertimes.com