Fee fi foe yum
Reno, NV 89501
At first glance, Imperial Bar & Lounge seems to be strictly a Generation Y hangout for giants—a place designed to appeal to and stimulate a crowd of large 25-year-olds and the more sophisticated cocktail enthusiasts among them.
I decided to take my mom.
Imperial is between First and Second streets on North Arlington Avenue in a beautifully restored brick building that faces west, with a kitty-corner view of the river and warm summer breezes that flow in through the gigantic swiveling windows up front.
Outside, it appears to be a little dark and dreary, but that sense disappears as you walk in. Beneath the windows is a huge lounge area, and when I say lounge, I mean an area for lounging—being sprawled-out, reclining with the adult beverage of your choice.
Everything at Imperial seems made for giants. Along the south wall are enormous booths beneath flat-screen plasma televisions. The ceilings are de rigueur industrial brick and air-duct. Brick walls create a nostalgic feeling, while the plethora of comfy banquettes give guests modern creature comforts to entice them into staying for an extended time. It really looks like they sunk some dough into this place.
Mom and I visited Imperial on a Monday evening. I figured that it might be more suitable for us to hear ourselves converse than on a Friday or Saturday night when it’s standing room only.
Some of my friends told me that there are many gorgeous women to be seen at Imperial. I would have to agree—I think the guys are out numbered here. My mom and I found a nice banquette along the south wall, and our bubbly server Brooke came and took our order.
My mom ordered a glass of Foxglove chardonnay for $7, and I was happy to find out that they served big bottles of Pelegrino, my favorite, for $3.50. I wasn’t expecting much in the food department, mainly because the words “restaurant,” “bistro” or “grill” are excluded from the name Imperial Bar and Lounge. I was pleasantly surprised by some decent chops. Moms ordered the Asian pork ribs for $9 and a pear, bacon, Gorgonzola salad with romaine lettuce and honey mustard vinaigrette for $9. The ribs tasted like they had been braised. They were tender and flavorful, but the presentation was lifeless, and the portion was a little on the tiny side. Basically, it was some meat on a cute little rectangle plate. The salad was tasty, but I think they can do better with their dressings—honey mustard and raspberry vinaigrettes sound a little too much like Wish-Bone flavors to me. Nonetheless, the salad tasted good, and its presentation was better than that of the ribs.
I ordered the fish tacos for $9 and, considering the fact that they were some old frozen and deep fried cod, they were dressed up nicely with some slaw and tartar sauce.
There was one thing that stood out as the crown jewel of the menu—the “frites.” They came with the fish tacos as a side, but I think these may be the best fries in Reno. They are fresh, not frozen and are cooked perfectly.
This bar is a good addition to Reno’s budding downtown scene and I think that it is a hangout for a younger, yet more sophisticated crowd—a drinkable, yet affordable wine list should encourage a new generation of refined palates.