Experiential dining can mean many, many things. The term includes kitschy interactive dinner theater where your wait staff may sing or get murdered as you scarf down catering-style rubber chicken, Or it can take the form of a meal in which the presentation and mere act of dining is entertainment in itself.
The Alchemist, scheduled to open October 2013 at 3252 Buena Vista Ave, Suite 118 at the Shops at Midtown Miami certainly takes a theatrical approach to dining. The small 50-seat room holds only 14 tables and the restaurant will only host two seatings per evening.
There are only two pre-set menu choices; the petit degustation (five courses at $90 per person) and the complete degustation (seven courses at $125 per person), with the menu changing seasonally.
The restaurant is the brainchild of chef Christophe Chastang, a former assistant chef at the Michelin star-rated Akrame in Paris and Alain Aner, a luxury goods and restaurant and hospitality professional. The Alchemist is their first foray into the Miami market. When asked why they chose to come to Miami, their answer was pretty much the same reason why we all landed here from points north. "Are you kidding me? Miami is paradise." The pair fell in love with Midtown, specifically, and decided to bring a seasonal nouvelle cuisine dining experience to the area.
Dishes sound intriguing. A sample menu lists Like a Pisco Sour, the Lobster, and Virtual Green Peas and Yuzu. When we asked what's the difference between a virtual pea and a real one, we were told that chef Chastang mashes green peas then reconstructs them into tiny pealike globes. An iPod will accompany the Forest Spirit dessert so you can listen to sounds of the forest while you dine.
The website requests the following:
The sensory journey proposed by "The Alchemist" requires the use of sight, smell, taste and sound...For this reason, we ask you to choose the same menu for the whole table to enjoy as its best the experience. Our team is available to answer any questions regarding our menus.
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If the dishes sound somewhat confusing, don't fret. Partner Alain Aner will work the front of the house with one server. Both will be on hand to walk diners through the experience, while chef Chastang will work in the kitchen, which has a large framed window which transports the chef's work into performance art.