The Southern Oregon town of Ashland is famous for its Shakespeare Festival, drawing visitors not just from the state but from all over the country. Because of this steady influx of tourism, this small town is able to sustain a thriving restaurant scene, and one of the best is the Alchemy Restaurant and Bar, tucked into the historic and luxurious Winchester Inn.
Taking inspiration from the name itself, Alchemy always has an inventive and original take on cuisine and cocktails, starting with basic ingredients then transforming them into something spectacular that will impress your senses and leave you marveling. The team at Alchemy calls this “transmutation.”
Although there’s been an in-house restaurant at the Winchester for over 30 years, the space was rebranded in 2013 as Alchemy and has steadily garnered praise and made a name for itself in the already competitive Ashland culinary scene.
The core team of Alchemy is made up of owner and sommelier Drew Gibbons, head Chef Michael Bryant, and pastry chef Sarah Pineda. Each member brings their own perspective and imagination to the constantly evolving menu that changes with the seasons and uses only the best ingredients from local producers.
Alchemy is a high-end dining experience that’s perfect for special occasions, but the restaurant doesn't feel stuffy or overly-formal. You can choose to sit in their elegant and intimate dining room, the swanky yet cozy bar, or the tranquil garden patio that all offer the same menu that changes every four to six weeks. There’s also amazing daily specials that the chef creates with his team with an eye to pairing with local wines, and these are frequently vegetarian options.
It’s impossible to order the wrong thing here, but there are some crowd favorites worth mentioning like the starter of Glazed Octopus a la Plancha with cucumber, cilantro, and basil tossed in a yuzu ponzu. Some of the best options on the main dinner menu include the Moules Frites made with Salt Spring Island mussels steamed in beer, coconut, spices, garlic and butter served with pommes frites. Or, try the Crispy Duck Leg Confit with local forest mushrooms, house fettuccine pasta, a 63 degree egg, and a roasted chicken demi-glace. And since you can’t leave without dessert, indulge in the Chocolate Fondant made with Scharffen Berger chocolate, honeycomb, passionfruit sauce, and maldon salt.
The Instagram-worthy bar is adorned with rolling library ladders for bartenders to access the huge wall of over 350 spirits, each hand selected. The mixologists also make their own tinctures and elixirs that they spin into creative craft cocktails. Try the Vote for Pedro made with mezcal, solerno, lime, and blood orange syrup. Alchemy is also known for their wine program which has won them multiple awards with its focus on highlighting the best Oregon wines from Southern Oregon and the Willamette Valley. The wine list itself is 36 pages long!
With the top-notch food also comes top-notch service and this is evident with servers, bartenders, and sommeliers who are personable, incredibly knowledgeable, and highly skilled at their craft. Make reservations online through OpenTable or by calling the restaurant directly.
This place is almost always busy, so reservations are highly recommended. And, if you stay at the Winchester you get a complementary two-course breakfast made by the chefs at Alchemy with homemade pastries, fresh fruit, and rotating hot entrees.
Their bar also features a daily happy hour, perfect for grabbing a cocktail and quick bite before heading off to the Globe Theater to watch Shakespeare come to life on the stage. Alchemy Restaurant and Bar is the cream of the crop for Ashland dining, and in addition to their 4.7 star average rating on Open Table (with over 1,100 reviews!) they’ve also been named one of the 12 best wine restaurants in the Pacific Northwest by Wine Spectator.
Location: 35 S. 2nd St, Ashland, Or 97520, located inside the Winchester Inn
Bar: Tuesday - Saturday 4pm to close
Restaurant: Tuesday - Saturday 4pm to close