TGIF! Am I right? It’s been a heck of a week, and MONTH! Can you believe January is already over? I still can’t get my head around it. Still, I am super thankful it's a new month and the weekend is finally here. I’m pretty excited because we’ve got TWO brunch dates on deck. We'll be going out for one, and then brunching “in”, for the later, which I love. I don’t think enough people give the brunch time slot enough credit. For example, my mom dislikes brunch because it supposedly throws her whole day off because she doesn’t get to relax, laze around or sleep in. I say quite the opposite. Brunch is the ideal time to go out and eat a meal with people. I tend to be most awake in the morning. If the meal is a heavy one, I have the rest of the day to let it digest without ruining my sleep. I usually don't need lunch on days I eat brunch because it's so delicious and filling. And, once you're done, you still have the rest of your day to do whatever you want! How does it get better than that?
Anyways - it's Friday, the weekend has FINALLY arrived and it's time we review another brunch spot because I know you're already daydreaming about your weekend plans! We checked out Imperial the other day. Take a look to see what we we ordered, liked and recommend for your next visit!
Imperial is right in the heart of downtown, connected to the historic Hotel Lucia on Broadway. It's a "New American" restaurant that Chef Vitaly Paley opened back in 2012. If you're wondering why that name sounds familiar, Chef Paley is a James Beard Award winner and has a couple other restaurants in Portland, so you know the food is going to be good. One could say the brunch menu at Imperial offers upscale spins on classic breakfast comfort foods. You'll find delightful twists on dishes like steak and eggs, biscuits and gravy, pancakes and waffles, etc.
One of the nice things about Imperial is that they take reservations for brunch, which in Portland’s brunch scene, can be a blessing. We rolled in at 10 am, were seated right away at a table by the kitchen where they also had a “chef’s table” or more accurately, a bar looking into the kitchen. As you can imagine, in sharing a lobby with the beautiful Hotel Lucia, the venue itself had to be inviting. With a balanced blend of wood tones, greenery, steel, and cement, the decor felt on point for being a Portland owned restaurant.
Per our waiter's advice, after being served coffee and tea, we ordered the seasonal house-made pop-tart to start. J said he had to give it a try - he was curious to know if a fancy brunch pop tart was worth it or not… and it was delicious. The seasonal flavor was a banana stuffed pop-tart, with a chocolate drizzle. Definitely order the pop-tart next time you're there.
While devouring said pop-tart, we went ahead and ordered a series of entrees. I went with the Buttermilk Fried Chicken, which came with Biscuits and Gravy. My sister chose the Bandt Ranch Flat Iron Steak & Eggs, and my brother in law ordered the Imperial Hash. J decided to be adventurous and went with the Chorizo Scramble with Fry Bread.
To be completely transparent, J and I had been to Imperial before for dinner, where I also had the Fried Chicken. I thoroughly enjoyed it then, so I figured it’d be good at brunch too. And it was! The chicken was lightly breaded, with a simple spice blend and perfectly cooked, albeit a little under seasoned. The dish comes with a house-made hot sauce in a dropper for a fun application, so, I think the seasoning was measured with the hot sauce in mind, as a key flavor component. Given it was brunch, I asked for a side of maple syrup to go with my chicken and it did not disappoint. And I'm not going to lie. The biscuits and chicken sausage gravy that accompanied my dish almost stole the show. They were a delicious pairing and perfect alongside the fried chicken - it was almost as if I got two discintly different dishes that happend to work extremely well together. I thoroughly enjoyed every bite.
The flat iron steak and egg dish was also quite the hit! It came with what she said was a “delightful” chimichurri that added just the right level of acid and spice. It also came with a side of potatoes that definitely loaded up the plate. The Imperial Hash was straightforward, pretty much what you would expect from a hash. Large pieces of roasted vegetables on the bottom, topped with two fried eggs.
J’s chorizo scramble was interesting - not your standard scramble. It was actually more of a deconstructed approach. While a little disappointed with the presentation, the flavors were there. He just would have preferred it combined in the traditional sense. As you can see from the picture, it was a stack, with the bottom layer being fry bread. Then a layer of chorizo on top of that, and then a standard omelet topped with a dollop of guacamole.
Of the four entrees, the Fried Chicken & Biscuits and Gravy combo and the Flat Iron Steak are the two I'd suggest ordering. They both stood out and were unique, in their own ways.
As we wrapped up our meal, the group collectively agreed that our next visit to Imperial would likely be with a larger group. The opportunity to make a reservation sets up Imperial to be a great spot for larger parties, and for celebratory meals. Given it's more of an upscale spot, I'd consider them a solid option for a mother's day, or a birthday meal. You can count on great quality, a higher end experience than your typical Portland brunch spot, and a nice ambiance.
One thing to note, Imperial does have a higher cost per entree and drinks, so just something to keep in mind!
Have you already been? What did you think of Imperial? Are they on your top 10 list?