Alchemy Restaurant and Bar has been named to the OpenTable Diners Top 100 Best Restaurants for Foodies in America.
The prestigious ranking is done by 5 million diners who make reservations with 20,000 restaurants through OpenTable, then submit reviews. It involves the entire U.S.
Alchemy, located in the historic 1883 Winchester Inn, was given its new name and feel in 2013, when Drew Gibbs his sister Cate took over from their parents, founders Michael and Laurie Gibbs. They restored the historic homes on the corner of Hargadine and Second Steets and created the restaurant in 1986.
OpenTable Chief Dining Officer Caroline Potter said honorees on the list were singled out for “wow factor” in flavor and presentation that got the attention of “foodies.”
Asked what foodies are, Gibbs said, “they’re people who enjoy good eating, made with love and care, using quality ingredients.”
Chef Billy Buscher, said foodies want dishes “made with love and passion. It’s food we want to eat when we go out to eat.”
Alchemy is the restaurant on the south side of Winchester and includes the bar on the north side, which has seating for a bistro menu. Owners are seeking city approval to expand dining space by moving the bar to the south side and pushing the kitchen west.
Alchemy’s most popular entrees, says Gibbs, are the sous vide filet mignon, a dry aged filet, with parsnip and celery root puree, sautéed mushrooms, seared scallop, hunter’s sauce with sautéed pancetta and baby greens with radish.
Also in top demand, he notes, are brown butter basted halibut, cauliflower puree, crispy beach mushrooms, pickled radish and braised ox tail parcel. Popular on the bistro menu is ribeye bacon burger with aioli and beer-batter french fries.
Asked what he thought got them on the OpenTable list, Buscher observed, “We create the dining experience we would want, ourselves. For instance, we get whole fish in season and I like to cover it in salt for 10 minutes, to remove the water surrounding the protein and this locks the protein in the fish.
Buscher is an autodidact who started as a dishwasher years ago and was mentored by the region’s master chefs, “working hard and asking lots of questions,” then winning top chef at the 2012 Ashland Culinary Festival.
“This is a huge honor,” said Gibbs, “and we really respect the other restaurants that made the list.”
OpenTable’s top 100 are listed at www.opentable.com/m/best-restaurants-for-foodies-in-america and include, in Portland, Aviary, Bar Avignon, Beast, Renata, Uptown Billiards Club, Castagna and Park Kitchen. No other Oregon restaurants outside Portland made the list.
John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at email@example.com.