Monday, March 25, 2013


410 SW Broadway
Happy Hour: 2 - 6 PM & 10 - midnight, daily

I've heard good things about all that Chef Vital Paley is doing for downtown Portland. Paley's Place has been around for some time, but the Portland Penny Diner and Imperial are both quite new. The Penny Diner is currently only open weekdays until 3, which is when most Happy Hours start. Thankfully, Imperial shares the same sidewalk. We stopped in on a Sunday afternoon to find that we had the place almost all to ourselves.

Happy Hour is only available at the bar. No worries, though, as there seems to be plenty of seating. With happy hour running as late as six o'clock, this place must see more action on the weekdays. Fridays, for sure.

We stopped in for a snack and some fancy cocktails after what seemed like a non-stop out-of-the-house-all-day kind of Sunday. The atmosphere was inviting, with a Madmen feel to it. Must have been all the brown hues and the sixties feel. The most impressive, in my opinion, was the open kitchen with flames growing higher and higher as they prepared for the dinner hour.

My husband is apparently on some sort of martini kick. This one came with just one olive and was most definitely meant for sipping. I didn't even dare take my turn. Too strong. Instead, I enjoyed a vodka gimlet. (More Julie and Julia than Madmen, but oh well....)

The gimlet was made with only fresh ingredients and appeared quickly after the order had been placed. The bartender took extra care to make it just so, using their signature big block ice cubes to bring it down to the most ideal temperature. I watched him stirring multiple cocktails as we waited for our food to arrive.

Since it was just a snack, we ordered a salad, a fresh roll, and a bowl of roasted hazelnuts.

The hazelnuts were a perfect Oregon treat, roasted and dusted with a kick of flavor. I enjoyed the crunch and having something quick to the table while we waited on the rest.

The salad was grilled--something I had yet to try. And now I want to try it again. I am going to have to do some research and test out what I find on the barbecue at home. It was only romaine, but the smokey flavors added so much appeal. I loved the feta, thinly sliced onions, and large cube croutons as well. Tomatoes, too. Every bite was near perfect.

It was the fresh roll that will have me coming back for more. It sounds silly, I know, but this roll was like an ultra dressed up, top-quality version of the rolls I grew up on in elementary school. School lunches aren't especially appealing these days (even more so to a vegetarian) and they weren't always that great growing up, but there were certain days--with certain foods--that stand out in my memory as being SO very worth the long line and less-than-friendly cooks. The rolls are one of those food items...and the rolls at Imperial are like that times ten.

We didn't stay long that afternoon, but that doesn't mean we won't be back. I can be ready for another grilled salad and fresh-baked roll or maybe even a full dinner anytime.

Food: Meets
Drinks: Meets
Service: Meets
Ambiance: Meets
Value: Meets


Imperial on Urbanspoon

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