Needing to get out of the sun and away from the crazies and bridge and tunnel amateurs that swarm downtown on a weekend, I slipped into Imperial for a time out and some lunch. I like the room at Imperial—it’s spacious, airy and manages to tastefully combine classicism with industrial design elements—and the soups and salads are good for lunch if you’re in the mood for something upscalish without going crazy.
Except it was after 2pm and happy hour (HH is 2 til 6pm), which turned out to be a blessing as I got to try the short but great value-for-money menu. The Imperial Flat-Top burger at six bucks was a steal: a nicely-sized patty, cooked perfectly medium, and topped with caramelized onions, cheddar and their secret sauce, all within a house-made sesame bun (it was the “fucking shit”, as one of my more expressive companions put it). The fries ($3) were crispy like fries so often aren’t—so good, in fact, they were dispatched in minutes and another round ordered. They also come with the secret sauce, which is kind of like a super-refined Thousand Island dressing without the relish. Finally, the grilled romaine salad with cherry tomatoes, feta and a salsa verde was one of those dishes that impressively came together in the bite, though the croutons, good as they were, were too big (as you can see in the picture). A bargain at $5.
The deals with the drinks aren’t as good—house wines are $8 a glass and plunging into the Imperial wine list searching for a sub-$40 bottle can be a task—but overall it’s a highly recommended happy hour.
Except for one thing. The music. Non-stop bland alt-rock blasting the room, like the worst KNRK playlist you could imagine. Why? Why? Why? This isn’t Jackknife, you’re not running a bar/meat market for the kids, you’re an upmarket hotel restaurant run by Vitaly Paley. Show some class. You don’t need a harpist in the corner (though that might be nice, thinking about it), but play something to fit the mood of the place, not something that is going to detract from how good the food is.
Imperial, 410 SW Broadway