Durham’s Alley Twenty Six offers new ‘Kitchen Lab’ menu

Shrimp remoulade now served at Alley Twenty Six.
Shrimp remoulade now served at Alley Twenty Six. Carrie Schleiffer

Popular Durham cocktail bar Alley Twenty Six has launched what they are calling “Kitchen Lab” with nightly food specials available Tuesday through Thursday in addition to the regular bar snack menu and weekend specials.

Alley Twenty Six owner Shannon Healy has partnered with chef Carrie Schleiffer to revamp the bar’s food offerings, with the “Kitchen Lab” being just the latest iteration of the collaboration that began when Schleiffer left Bar Virgile last fall.

Healy had always wanted to offer more food but with the limited space (the bar does not have a traditional kitchen) and the need to focus on the craft cocktails, his hands were tied. “Now that Carrie is with us,” Healy says, “she has been tasked with making more food in our current space.”

Schleiffer plans on meeting that challenge with food that can match Healy’s renowned drinks.“Cocktails are obviously the focal point of Alley Twenty Six,” Schleiffer wrote in an e-mail. “The cocktails are always very flavorful and thought out. I’m trying the provide food offerings that mirror and compliment that practice.”

The idea behind the “Kitchen Lab” is that Schleiffer will test out new dishes and bar snacks on Alley Twenty Six’s patrons in an effort to not only determine what people like to eat with their cocktails, but what Schleiffer is able to provide in an extremely limited space.

The menu will change weekly based on seasonal availability and customer feedback, and right now includes offerings like a shrimp remoulade with avocado, pickled red onion, bibb lettuce and a spicy remoulade sauce and steak tartare with shallot, capers, horseradish cream, Parmesan, quail egg yolk and fresh herbs.

The regular bar snacks menu (including artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, spiced nuts and more) will continue to be available. The “Kitchen Lab” menu will be served 4-7 p.m. Sunday-Thursday and 4-10 p.m. Friday- Saturday.

Alley Twenty Six is located at 320 E. Chapel Hill Street in Downtown Durham. Info:

Matt Lardie is a Durham-based food and travel writer. He writes the Eat Write Go blog: Reach him at