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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