320 Boul Leclerc O/ rue St Antoine N
Tel: 450-994 1922
Chef Hats: 3.5 +
You will find Restaurant L’imperial a one and a half hour ride out of town to Granby, Quebec to be exact. Located in a corner of small isolated residential mall, one would wonder why drive all the way here to have dinner. I can give you many reasons, not all may make sense to you, but a true foodie does all kind of things to indulge in the world of culinary pleasures. Once in a while I love going for country rides in my convertible to enjoy the summer days and the wind in my hair. During these rides I work up quite an appetite, it is then that I try to book a restaurant along the way that has piqued my fancy. This was such this case this weekend at L’Imperial. Having heard many good things about the place I choose to venture forth.
Opened in summer 2013, L’imperial is co-owned by Chef Francois Cote, Nicolas Dubuc and Richard Lafrance. Francois Cote who you will recognize as the mild manner handsome chef has worked alongside Fred Morin and Dave McMillan at the famous Joe Beef. Then who has not. The influence is evident here at L’imperial in some of its dishes, yet it is very very different and very subdued. The price of the food and wine are totally reasonable compared to its counterparts, it just as tasty and of high caliber.
What surprised me when I entered the restaurant was the narrow pleasantly minimal but well decorated dining room in the front of the restaurant; very bistro style in feel with its dark wood tables and banquettes, and the bar sits adjacent to the wall lined banquettes. I thought a very small space but comfortable. Instead we were ushered to another dining room on the other side totally hidden from the bar area with its large windows and open airy feeling leading to the terrasse. The wide open space was done in the same decor but was more of a formal dining room with its large blackboards and floor to ceiling glass wine cellar, dark tables and chairs and honey wood floors. Very urban chic for a rural restaurant, but very modern and pleasing on the eyes and the senses. The bathroom area was another thing to write home about, ultra modern in style as well, with its basins on the outside and private stalls, different in concept. Pure Genius!
We sat down, scanned the menu and the blackboard, and decided on their Table Hôte du Soir menu at $ 28.00, and a bottle of red wine Nero D’avola- Cataldo from Italy at $ 36.00. The service was professional and friendly.
We also ordered an extra entree of the Crispy Dumplings at $9.00 as I was having an Asian food craving. The dumplings came on a wooden plank, a generous portion of crispy pork filled triangles topped with peanut sauce and sesame seeds and sriracha sauce. These were absolutely decadent and very flavorful and very crispy. The meat pockets had just the right seasoning of pork meat with shallots and ginger.
Frenchie ordered for his entree from the Table Hôte menu the Cochonnailles, moutardes au dates et marinades. This consisted of a slice of Terrine made with different marbled pork meats atop homemade sweet date mustard with baby gherkins, marinated pickles, a few slivers of onions and slices of diagonally cut baguette. The homemade mustard totally enhancing the terrine de Cochonailles and the sweet & sour marinated pickles offsetting it perfectly.
With my order, I received the salad Garde Manger to open up my appetite and help with digestion. Not that I needed any help. A big heap of romaine and red green leaf lettuce in mild oil vinaigrette topped with fresh grated parmesan. But I was full after this and could have stopped here.
But for my main meal I still had the Tortellini Bolognese made with duck coming. I enjoyed the tortellini and liked this variation of the Bolognese sauce, but by now I found it very heavy. The pieces of dark duck made the sauce very rich and gamey. The flavor was smoky but in a good way and especially enhanced with the wine. A meal all by itself to completely be enjoyed, only able to get half of the way through it, I had it to go.
Frenchie had the Poulet Fermier Rôti aux Herbes, Roasted farm chicken with Herbs. This was a quarter of a chicken roasted and served with a mix of potatoes, onions, zucchini and squash in a light jus or gravy. Flavored with fresh herbs, the chicken was super tender and definitely fresher than the typical supermarket brands; Frenchie was pleasantly surprised as he said that he was really able taste the difference, the side accompaniments with its juices added the extra oomph to the meal.
For dessert we both had the Pancotto caramel with fleur de sel, crème Chantilly, and pralinées de noisettes torréfiées and espressos. This had to be the piece de resistance. L’imperial is known for its desserts and it’s a shame if you don’t have one. The Pancotta came served in a stemmed glass topped with Chantilly whipped cream and a raspberry, it was so delicious, and I had no problems finishing it even if I was full. It went down so smoothly and each spoonful was as good as the first, creamy, with the right mix of sweet, salty and crunchiness of the pralines and the maple goodness at the top.
It was time to go home and before the long ride back stuck in traffic I decided to go to the ladies room at the urgency of Frenchie who said it was a must see. That’s when I actually realized that there were different dining spaces further into the restaurant and the chic concept bathroom in a small hallway.
All tastefully decorated and very accommodating. Glad to see that this humble Estrie native has brought his talent and vision back home.
L’imperial is definitely worth the visit.