According to a variety of definitions, 'The word alchemist comes from alchemy, which has origins in the Greek word khemeia, meaning "art of transmuting metals." Active since ancient times, alchemists could be considered very early chemists because of their work trying to transform base metals into gold.' Other definitions go further to include 'to transform physical objects into other things in very mysterious ways.' And, so the definitions continue.
Not quite metals to gold, or mysterious to magical, but liquor store to a neighbourhood cafe - a more modern day transformation.
This 1920's-style corner shop displaying the old Victoria Bitter sign is positioned on suburban Carter street, a few blocks from the hub of the Cammeray restaurant precinct. It is on the bus route, opposite the post box, and on a street that many use to bypass the main Cammeray shops travelling east to Neutral Bay, Mosman and Manly, or north to Northbridge, Chatswood and beyond.
Once a quiet liquor store positioned alongside a general store which closed at least 12 months ago; who would have thought there would be so much buzz?
You hear the whooshing of the coffee machine, accompanied by the regular tap tap of the portafilter, or what we'd call the coffee grounds thingy being emptied by Alchemist's capable baristas.
Many varieties of coffee, and of milk to accompany it
Tea is served
The emphasis here is on yummy, healthy meals with a bit of a wow factor. To me, everything looks and sounds right up my alley. I've been back twice for their Quinoa Bircher Muesli, which appeared rather popular as I looked around the restaurant. My husband devoured the Streaky Bacon and Free Range Egg Stack with equal murmurs of pleasure.
Quinoa Bircher Muesli with an Injection of Honey
The scientific theme is everywhere. It's quite quirky but you soon understand why. John Menck, who owns the cafe with his wife Emma Fryer, is a scientist turned cafe owner. Table numbers are black wooden spoons with chemical symbols. Walls and blackboards are adorned with more symbols. You too may feel transformed after a Superfood Salad or Organic Chia Pudding accompanied by a barista coffee, a filter coffee or one of the many tea choices. There are plenty of mainstream choices too. Things like Double Cheese BLT or Moroccan Spiced Chicken, or Open Chicken and Avocado Sandwich will satisfy those who turn up their noses at Kale and Chia.
The decor is uber rustic - so relaxing in this day and age of modern, all black or all white Spartan interiors.
Rustic decor with a homely feel
These guys make great coffee
Plenty of options to take away too
Don't forget to check out the blackboard menus too
In the background, if you stop to listen, you will hear unobtrusive, soothing, yet trendy cafe music. Conversations abound. I catch a five seconds of conversation from two writers in one corner. Funny as I sit here writing this. A cute little boy sits with mum and granny on the couches in another corner. There's a man with his laptop, a familiar scene at most cafes. I'm also seated on some very comfy worn leather sofa chairs near the large brown apothecary bottles and self serve water spout.
The large communal table, a modified boardroom table from Hornsby Hospital, attracts a mix of people of all ages. Tradies pop in for their takeaways as they renovate local residences. Office and home workers sneak in to grab a takeaway coffee or a quick exotic tea. Maybe they want a break from their home office and to be with a few people rather than at their solitary desk and computer?
You might learn a little chemistry while you're here