By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor
At 3 pm today, The Junction’s newest drinking/eating establishment, Alchemy, officially opens its doors.
And that’s where we sat down earlier this week to talk with the trio behind it – bar director Tony Larson, executive chef Larkin Young, and marketing/operations director Matt Mead.
The photos in our story are from last night’s “soft open” – right up until then, Matt explained, they had a “whole squadron of people building furniture.” They had also “gone antique shopping” for some of the decor, from chandeliers to “a tea kettle from the 1800s.” Alchemy seats 45.
Tony is the West Seattleite in the group – more than a decade here, including a few years working at Matador just up the street.
As the bar director, he wants to debunk what some people drew from the initial announcement, that Alchemy sounded potentially too pretentious for down-to-earth West Seattle.
“We’re here to cater to your experience,” he told us. “Sometimes you just want to come in and have a vodka-and-soda. If that’s the experience that our guests want, we’re more than happy to oblige.” But if you want to explore, “our staff will walk you through any questions you have … sometimes I know it can be a little intimidating. We want to take the pretense away and be there as a source of information for people.”
“We don’t want people to come in and think we’re opening some kind of ultralounge,” Matt emphasized. “Semi-upscale, but part of the neighborhood.”
“Every bar should feel like a neighborhood bar,” Tony added. “The era of the tie-and-vest pretentious bartender has come and gone; (you have to be) friendly, personable. focused on hospitality … I want us to really ingratiate ourselves in the neighborhood … there’s so much change coming to our neighborhood right now, we don’t want it to lose its identity, we want to add to the other great places around here.” The goal is to be “quiet and relaxed … I’m really big on bars being places with conversation, (no) loud music, a place to go with your friends, bring a date, after dinner …”
And the food?
“The menu is small,” noted Larkin, whose experience includes Canlis and Willows Inn (Lummi Island). “I want things to be recognizable but fun – we’ll have bar fare like olives and nuts, but they’ll be slightly different – we’re going to be a little playful.” With a “nice price point,” he promised, continuing: “So many great ingredients and things available out here – you have the Sunday (Farmers’) Market over here and that will play a lot in the kind of food we do.” They might even set up a booth, work with vendors, give tips to shoppers – “if you don’t know what to do with a couple bunches of red chard (maybe you would wonder) ‘what do these guys do with it?’.”
He says all his recipes are open (see the menu here) and he’ll be happy to share them if you want to try them at home. “The food I’m going to do is just straightforward and simple, (and it’s also) going to be a great place to come try new things … I’m a huge fan of vegetables, shellfish, seafood. And we will have an amazing little slider, (plus) deviled eggs that I will claim to be the best ever.”
The menus, both food and drink, will change with the seasons. And from the bar, Tony promises “some pretty cool surprises, a lot of fun presentations. (But) if you want to come in and have a Jack and Coke, I’m super-good at making Jack and Cokes.”
“These guys are humble, but they do an amazing job at what they do,” Matt noted. “I’m really, really excited for people to see what these two have created. Come in in a suit, or in jeans … everybody’s welcome.” (Everybody 21+, we should note.)
Hours at Alchemy for starters will be 3-midnight weekdays, weekend until closing time, 1:30-2 am. Tony hopes it could become a gathering place for those working at other establishments that might close earlier, at midnight or so, to “come in and have a proper drink.”
Alchemy is on the southeast side of Junction 47, 4717 42nd SW. 21+. As for F2T’s restaurant on the southwest side, Vine & Spoon, it’s due this summer, so more about that later.