SW6 – King’s Road – The Imperial

Candles and cake at the ready – it’s been just over a year since The Imperial, a gastropub on the ‘other end’ of the King’s Road, opened. Since then it has gone on to be nominated for the Sustainable Pub of the Year award and it has recently hired itself a new head chef and new menu.

What first strikes you about the menu is that it, it and the decor of the pub, are metaphorically identical. It’s everything that you would expect from a pub, but flashier, shinier and then again, not altogether what you’d expect from a pub.

The menu boasts confit duck yolk, hay infused egg white. Not exactly what you expect from a pub either. But on the other hand you can get a burger, a steak and an (un)healthy portion on chips. Exactly what you’d expect from a pub.

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My starter of confit duck yolk, hay infused egg white, pickled wild mushrooms, pearl barley and chive puree sounded spectacular – although in reality it didn’t quite deliver. The yolk was beautiful although the chive puree was really rather grassy. It didn’t really gel.

The carrot and coriander soup – a simple dish in its nature – was the essence of homemade, fresh and warming.

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For mains I selected the pan fried wild sea bream, blackened leeks, cauliflower puree, samphire and kale foam. Again, there was something about the foam element of it – like my starter – which didn’t fit. The fish was delicately cooked and flaky, although lacked some finesse. It reminded me of something which was a bit homecooked – but not necessarily in the right way. The blackened leeks were on the tough side which should have been spotted by the chef too.

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The Irishwoman (my plus one for the evening) chose well and wisely (one must watch those Irish). Her selection of sirloin steak, roast turnip and swede, purple sprouting broccoli with red wine jus did not disappoint. Arguably this dish is what you would call more ‘common’, and not a fancy and fiddly as the foam courses above.  The steak was tender, the jus rich, and wonderfully cooked. An extremely generous portion too, if I may add.

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As a side we were recommended the cauliflower and paprika – but is was just that. Cauliflower with paprika sprinkled on top. Nothing to write home about for sure.

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For pudding (yes, I told you I am from Yorkshire) were these mini doughnuts with panna cotta and a sickly, almost crystallised pear. The panna cotta didn’t really hold itself together and the pairing of all three didn’t really complement one another.

The dishes which The Imperial owned were the simpler ones. When they dipped their toe into something more complicated, the risk didn’t reward. If The Imperial want to be both pub and fine dining, they really need to fine tune their game.

577 King’s Road
SW6 2EH
the-imperial.co.uk

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SW3 – Chelsea – L’Eto Caffe

Simple ingredients cooked well don’t need a great deal of introduction.

Burrata and tomatoes

Burrata and tomatoes

To start, I ordered burrata with Toscana olive oil and seasonal tomatoes. The mozzarella shell yielded to my fork – and the cream did flow. Tomatoes and cheese are God’s way (said even as an agnostic) of saying a human’s diet is to consist and dine on both vegetable and animal – sour tomatoes and creamy cheese, a combination parallel to ambrosia (even if the elixir credentials are not quite as comparable). It was, yes, incredibly simple, but all credit to L’Eto – it was simply divine.

Crab and avocado salad

Crab and avocado salad

The crab and avocado salad with soy and lime dressing, did also deliver. Zesty, zingy – you know what lime tastes like – was matched rather damn well with the soy and creaminess of the crab and avocado. A beautiful tower was presented on the (gorgeous) plates – the crab flaked with the texture of rice and submerged itself underneath the dressing; ready to be scooped and siphoned into the Welshman’s mouth. I also had a good go at it too.

12oz Côte de Boeuf Steak

12oz Côte de Boeuf Steak

Steak, cooked medium rare was also flavoursome, well seasoned and wholesomely presented with a selection of roasted vegetables and a few radishes. Only slight, and slight being very much emphasised, was that the cut wasn’t as tender as it could have been. But let’s not linger on this point.

Côte de Boeuf

Côte de Boeuf

Rib eye steak close up

Close up!

Gnocci with toasted almonds and rocket…I told you this menu was simple! Buttery, moreish (moreish – despite the fact I could probably hazard a guess at how many grams of butter, to the first decimal place, was in there). Not floury, not hard, not plasticky, but succulent, incredible pristine flavours and the insatiable sensation of wanting to shove it all in your mouth at once.

gnocci with toasted almonds and rocket

Gnocci with toasted almonds and rocket

gnocci with toasted almonds and rocket

Gnocci with toasted almonds and rocket

gnocci with toasted almonds and rocket

Gnocci with toasted almonds and rocket

I did not order dessert, but I can comment on the wine. In my youth I would never have claimed that the shape (nor material) of the vessel from which one drank would have affected the flavour of the solution of which one drank. Well it bloody well does. L’Eto have beautiful, ‘correct’, glasses which served our respective choices of a Merlot and Malbec between the Welshman and I. Good wine; good food.

L'Eto deli's aubergine salad

L’Eto deli’s aubergine salad

Although I didn’t sample it, their buffet deli – I’m sure – would also be super for a lunch date.

L'Eto deli's potato & sugar snap salad on the deli

L’Eto deli’s potato & sugar snap salad on the deli

Waxed lyrical? Perhaps. But most enjoyable. Thank you L’Eto for inviting me.

149 King’s Road,
Chelsea,
London,
SW3 5TX
020 7351 7656