There are evenings in London where everything seems to fall perfectly into place and you realize why we pay sky-high rents and negotiate the network of the London underground every day to live in this gracious city. The evening we dined at the Imperial was one of these; it was the first day of 2016 where it felt like summer was truly arriving and we were ready to welcome it with open arms. Furrowed brows turned into relaxed smiles and the residents of London were practically skipping into work as coats and scarves were exchanged for sunglasses. Luckily for us, we had a table reserved in the gorgeous garden of the Imperial on the King’s Road. Passing through the modern restaurant and pub which is a converted Victorian building, we were led into their secret little garden at the back, which hosted a scattering of tables shrouded by greenery and hanging fairy lights.
The atmosphere was buzzing; people were high on the appearance of the sun, but also on the exceptional food and wine served here. The menu is modern and creative; it exceeds what you would usually expect from gastro-pub food with original dishes created from seasonal, fresh ingredients, demonstrated by a chef traipsing into the garden to pick fresh herbs from the plots during our visit. The originality of the menu really stood out for me; pairings I had never seen before took precedence, demonstrating a kitchen with an intricate knowledge of the palate and flavours. There was so much vibrancy and colour on the plates, it was appealing to the eye before we had even tasted the food.
We started with a taster starter of poached rhubarb with clotted cream, herbs, chilli and fennel seeds. It was delicious and I felt like we were enjoying both a starter and a dessert at the same time. The flavours sung together, a heavenly blend of deep spicing and sweet fruit. Our starters followed – mine a garlic smoked salmon with a pink salmon pate and pickled mushrooms. The fish was beautiful in both its freshness and preparation, with a subtle flavour of wild garlic, complimenting, rather than overpowering the salmon. My partner had the ras al hanout spiced aubergine topped with cashew nut cheese puree, an Arabian salsa and halzlenut Dukkah. This was a complex dish with layers and layers of flavour. Aubergine is a great carrier for bold flavours and the chef has played to this beautifully; an orchestration of complimenting spices and herbs filled the vegetable, creating an exceptional dish.
My main was the John Dory filets served in a rich broth with samphire, rice noodles and fresh courgette flowers. The beautifully light, fragrant broth was the perfect base for the meaty fish fillets and fresh vegetables. A pile of fresh coriander topped off the soup, which highlighted the Asian influences of the dish. It was a memorable main which I would definitely order again. My partner had the spring lamb rump which was tender and perfectly seasoned. We finished this off with a side of burnt artichokes which were delicious.
Dessert was an apple crumble served with clotted cream and a chocolate marquise which was equally as indulgent. The meal was enjoyed with a house bottle of sauvignon blanc which was lovely; a much higher standard than you’d usually expect from a house wine.
Our experience at the Imperial was delightful from start to finish; the service was great, the food was standout and the environment was idyllic. Whether you’re lucky enough to visit on a warm summer evening or during one of our more frequent rainy days, you can guarantee one thing; an exceptional experience. Food of that standard can be appreciated in any setting but the fact The Imperial has created a warm, relaxed vibe is a testament to their understanding of how food should be enjoyed. Take advantage of this beautiful garden space in the heart of Chelsea and let yourself be bowled over by their stunning menu.
577 King’s Road
London SW6 2EH