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Best Bites: The Alchemist Pub & Brewery

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23 South Main Street, Waterbury 244-4120

Why would someone who doesn’t drink beer drive 45 minutes only to wait another hour... just to eat at a brewery? The food is that damn good. On May 12, The Alchemist Pub & Brewery reopened after kitchen renovations earlier this month and I went to check it out.

I have never had the same entree twice at the Alchemist, partly because the specials are often irresistible. A plate of sauerbraten I had this summer still haunts my dreams. The thick slices of sweet and sour falling-apart-tender brisket served over mighty chunks of sourdough were enough to feed four, but I finished that and the accompanying red cabbage all on my own with no regrets — except that it was gone.

The Soft Jumbo Pretzel is the essential starter. It's just like one out of a New York cart, only without the inescapable smell of ass. The homemade mustard is deceptively honey sweet, with a sinus-clearing horseradish afterburn. The Wing Dings were massive, crispy and covered in garam masala powder. The pungent and chunky blue cheese dip paired surprisingly well with the Indian flavors of the chicken.

No German-inflected pub menu is complete without a take on choucroute garni and the Mixed Sauerkraut Plate doesn't disappoint. A huge, juicy bratwurst and subtly spicy knockwurst — spiced with a pleasant note of nutmeg — share space over a perfectly acidic nest of bacon-bedecked kraut and a side of pierogis.

Even meals on the lighter side satisfy. My Misty Knoll chicken fillet came in mint pesto-marinated slabs over lemon vinaigrette-bathed baby greens. Two fist-sized cheddar biscuits shared space with the otherwise springtime-tasting meal. Why didn’t I try dessert? I plead the biscuits.

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