577 Kings Road, London, SW6 2EH www.the-imperial.co.uk

Chloe goes down the Kings Road to try the aptly named Imperial. Reopened and revamped.

The Imperial is a restaurant and bar with a stylish and cozy beer garden set in a beautiful Victorian building on the Kings Road. Following an extensive refurbishment, The Imperial has recently reopened with a new enlarged space, which has been split into a casual bar, sleek dining room and ‘Perrier Jouet’ garden –which unfortunately it was far too cold to go out into in February.

The head chef has also created a new seasonal menu to showcase the development of The Imperial’s food offering,  which is clear to see from the lite bites to the desserts and everything in between.

We started the meal with two delicious starters. The first, tuna sashimi, arrived beautifully presented with layers of tuna topped with thin slices of radish and black caviar all sitting on pickled shiitake mushrooms. The sashimi was perfectly thin and the sharpness of the pickled mushrooms cut through the richness of the dish perfectly.

The second starter almost gave me food envy – only kept at bay by the great taste of my tuna. This other dish was small but mighty – charred toast, topped with bone marrow, perfectly pink beef fillet, wilted spinach and a cocktail onion. Although a rich dish, it was well balanced and each flavour complemented the other.

Now, sometimes I find when the starters are exceptional the mains can be a bit of a disappointment. However, I am happy to say at The Imperial this wasn’t the case.

If you are looking for something meaty I have to recommend the suckling pork. This dish takes a classic dish to the next level with apple, sherry poached prunes, cauliflower cream and a veal jus. The thick wedge of pork retained a moistness that can be hard to achieve and had a layer of thick, crispy crackling. The cauliflower cream was smooth and, unsurprisingly, creamy while the apple created a nice, sharp contrast.

However, if you are looking for something a bit lighter the pan-fried swordfish congee is an absolute must. I was a bit skeptical at first but my qualms were quickly quashed. A light broth packed a flavour punch, and was filled with rice, baby leeks and chilli threads.

It also came with ‘shaved squid’ which I expected to be little slithers,  but in were actually meaty bites. This was, of course, all topped with swordfish. Unfortunately, the swordfish was the only slightly below par part of the dish and was a bit overcooked and dry.

Although by this point we were both full, I was craving something chocolaty. Luckily for me, The Imperial’s chefs have crafted the ultimate dark chocolate egg, one filled with vanilla ice cream and surrounded by vanilla Cointreau cream and a white and dark chocolate soil. A rich and decadent dish, it is not for the faint-hearted.

If you prefer something slightly more savoury La Fromagerie is a great choice. Contrary to its name it showcases the best of British produce with seasonal fruit (apples on the day we visited), chutney, tangy Shoreham goat’s brie, mature and strong Westcombe cheddar and a pungent Cropwell Bishop stilton. What’s even better is they don’t skimp on the cheese and give you big enough slices so you’re able to actually enjoy each flavour.

All in all, a very pleasant, relaxed and tasty evening. What’s more, the staff are friendly and knowledgeable – even being able to successfully pair a wine to the diverse selection of dishes we sampled. And, with the different atmospheres they have been able to successfully create following the refurbishment, it is a great place for a catch up with friends, relaxed drinks or something a bit more ‘formal.’