As tomorrow night is Game One for the NRL State of Origin, I have decided to swap around our venue review day in case you wanted to pop over to the pub to watch the game…. And who said designers didn’t like football!!
Growing up in my house we were ablaze with State of Origin fever, state against state, mate against mate, in fact I don’t think you were allowed in the living room if you wore anything resembling QLD or wearing any speck of maroon. And you can be sure that there was either pizza or pies for dinner, usually swooshed down with a beer or two….
(For those of you who do NOT know what I am on about, State of Origin is an annual 3 game series of Rugby League played between NSW and QLD. The ‘origin’ part comes into it as the players can only play for the original state that they represented – for most players that is either NSW or QLD. It generates probably some of the best quality footy you are likely to see all year and is a hotly contested series, to say the least. My family are clearly NSW supporters).
These days I am more likely to head to the pub with a group of friends to watch the game as the family is spread around a bit, but I still get that excitement and nervous energy, and feel the urge to text my father and brothers throughout the series. I guess that life has phases and cycles, but some things remain the same.
And that brings me, in a rather long winded way, to the Imperial Hotel. Boy has that seen some swings and roundabouts! At a time when Oxford Street was teaming with the glamorous and gorgeous out for a spot of shopping, the Imperial Hotel was somewhat the ugly duckling… only, it’s been around for ages… so it was more just like an ugly duck. Now that Oxford Street in Padington has frayed drastically at the edges, with at least half the shops along the strip closed, the Imperial Hotel has re-emerged, in a brand spanking new outfit.
Oscar & I head out on a Monday night, expecting the pub to be vacant – gym night etc. But once we arrive we notice there are quite a few people enjoying a beer and a chat. Perhaps word has got around about the hand-cut 3-times-cooked chips? They certainly seem to be popular, with a bowl on just about every table!
Oscar was hoping to try out the pizzas, but the upstairs pizza restaurant is shut – it’s open Wednesday to Sunday (5pm – close) – so instead he eyes off the steaks, finally selecting the expensive Imperial Ribeye on the Bone with Hand-cut Chips and a selection of 3 Mustards ($38). I go for a somewhat girly pub meal, the Warm Lamb Salad ($20), as I am feeling guilty about not going to the gym. We order a bottle of the Hunter Valley 2009 Tintilla Estate “Saphira” Sangiovese ($48) to drink whilst we warm up in front of the downstairs fire on such a cold night.
It’s worthwhile pointing out here that the Imperial Hotel serves only wines from NSW (the perfect place to support the Cockroaches!!! Go NSW!!!) in an effort to promote locally produced food and wine, and reduce food miles. Regular wine tasting nights are a must – make sure you check out their website for more details. The Imperial Hotel also has a Social Club, with a view to bring the community together. It has great events such as a Harbour Sailing Night and a Safari Truck available to groups for pick-up and drop-off – AND – it’s free to join!
Our meals arrive promptly and Oscar’s steak is cooked to perfection. Nice and pink in the middle and incredibly tender and juicy – it’s a great steak, but you certainly pay for it. My lamb salad is ok. The sun-dried tomatoes add a real punch of flavour and the lamb is cooked well, it’s just that I’ve tasted better elsewhere. It’s what you might expect for a standard pub salad. The chips on the other hand are fantastic – crispy and crunchy with bits of potato skin still showing on the outside – they are delicious!
The downstairs bar area is nice and bright and open. There are occasional seats around the fire, high bar tables and stools throughout the centre and banquette seats along the perimeter – something for everyone. The bar cuts through from the front room through to the back adjacent the outdoor terrace area and is quite nicely detailed with under-bench lighting. I really love the outdoor terrace area with bamboo garden beds set against the wall and open to the night sky.
Upstairs there are Function Rooms, the Pizza Bar, a Smoking Balcony and… you guessed it… a Karaoke Room – it’s what every pub needs of course!! The manager was very kind and took me around upstairs but – no pics – as the lights were mostly off. All the more reason to head over there and check it out yourself!
As if we needed any more food – Oscar couldn’t help but order the Cheese Plate ($19). I swear this man is on a mission to stop me from fitting into my wedding dress later this year!!! How good does this look?! You try saying ‘No’! The cheeses are mild and yummy…. and the figs…!! Enough said…
The Imperial Hotel does a few things really well. It’s remained a pub. It looks like a pub – a much nicer one now, thank you. It serves great pub food, at mostly reasonable prices. And… it brings people together… to support the community, share a wine or watch the sport!
In a world where things are forever changing, it’s good to know that a pub can still be a pub – but a good looking one.
LOVIN’: Local produce and community support
NOT LOVIN’: Oscar wanted a bigger steak…
NOISE: It was quiet on a Monday, but I suspect it could get quiet loud
HOW MUCH: $$$$$
WHERE: 252 Oxford Street, Paddington 2021
WHEN: Mon – Sat: 10am – 12pm Sunday: 10am – 10pm
CONTACT: (02) 9331-2023
Also check out the TimeOut review here - which is not really a review – I had a hard time trying to find one!