Imperial Food & Drink

Imperial Food & Drink, originally uploaded by mintyfresh.

After three failed visits (not open! plans rescheduled! too cold to go outside!) we FINALLY made it down to the Imperial tonight. Centretown's newest dining spot, it's located just next door to Barrymore's, on Bank between Maclaren and Gilmour (right across from the Dirty Oak, for those who work off landmarks alone).

There have been a few months of anticipation for this visit - the restaurant itself has been open for only a few weeks, but has been in varying stages of 'almost open' since late September. I'd walk by, and there would be a light on, or a plant hanging in the window, or a sign outside and NO lights on. Information was scarce, a website was impossible to find, and it seemed that everyone I talked to in Centretown was asking the same question - when is it going to be open already? But today, success!

Brett and I wandered in just after 8pm. While we were the only two diners in the entire place (which is nice and cosy - about ten-twelve tables total), it didn't feel empty. Movie posters line the walls, and the list of daily features was full and brimming with delicious ideas, like Tourtiere, homemade soup, and desserts like Brown Sugar Cake (yum!).

We kicked things off with a pint of Beau's - our preferred selection out of the two on-tap choices the Imperial offers (the other is Heritage - nice to see some local beers making the A list!). My test for any new pub-style spot is a burger - and the Imperial's burger delivers. Loaded with red pepper aioli, caramelized onions, and surrounded by a multi-grain bun, the burger was one we'll be making a return visit for. Served with a side of crispy fries, and some homemade pickled carrots pickled by the Chef, it was a perfectly sized meal . Not too huge, not too tiny, just enough to leave you walking away full.

The staff are friendly and helpful, and happy to chat. We asked about the pickled carrots in particular, and got tips about most of the ingredients (though they say they can't reveal them all - chef's secret!).

Pickled Carrots, originally uploaded by mintyfresh.

The highlight of the night was being able to take home a full bottle of pickled carrots. The pickle-lover in our house is nearly gleeful at the prospect of pickled carrots adorning every dish we eat for the next few weeks.

For those watching their wallets, this is a spectacular cheap eat - two burgers with sides and two pints of Beau's came to just over $30 after tax (where else in this city can you get a DELISH $7.50 burger? Certainly not anywhere else on Bank St.).

I hate to see fantastic places empty, so take heed: go and give it a try. They're also open for brunch, which I would suspect is just as great as dinner. Don't forget to try the carrots!