Imperial Treasure: The Pall Mall Restaurant Fit For Emperors
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Imperial Treasure sits snugly in the corner of Haymarket and Pall Mall, a new outpost for a restaurant group that's already established and Michelin-starry across Shanghai, Singapore and Hong Kong.
The London offshoot is yet to be starred, but we wouldn't be surprised if one's coming. More surprised if one doesn't, actually, as this hits a lot of traditionally Michelin-compatible notes: more timeless sleek than on-trend buzz, a lengthy tasting menu, and price-points distinctly more corporate expense account than casual dining.
The bar's not busy on a weekday evening, but based on our off-menu, flawlessly smooth pisco sour, it deserves to be. It's a very, very nice spot — warm amber lighting, and everything from bar counter to seating fitted out in textures you want to stroke. Cocktail prices are steep, but only a shade more so than plenty of the similar nearby options, making this a good pre-theatre spot for a single, classy tipple.
The restaurant decor is elegant and muted — in fact, that's the motif throughout the restaurant: hushed elegance, with screens partitioning the restaurant into smaller cubes of calm.
They've gone with a broadly crowd-pleasing — and similarly, slightly muted — line-up of dishes on the signature menu. It's a series of artistically executed, smoothly-delivered dishes that take in some thunkingly good highs and some underwhelming lower notes.
Among the highs: a fried lobster roll, a delicate layer of crunch holding the richness together. The poached Chinese cabbage in chicken broth is a warming and simple palate-reset balanced in between a powerfully meaty course and a powerfully truffled one. And the prawns in a chillied broth is our would-order-again dish of the menu: a welcome punch of flavour topped with two little chunks of chilli-soaked carb, halfway between a crouton and a dumpling.
Missable dishes include a chicken and almond dish coated in lemon glaze. Nearer a cake than a meat, it's both mouth-puckeringly sweet and blandly one-note at the same time. We get through most of the portion powered more by fascination than pleasure. Ditto the thoroughly pretty but personality-less cubes of osmanthus jelly dessert.
It's worth noting that some of the more interesting, lesser-spotted-in-London dishes (stir-fried lily bulbs and soups laced with dried sea whelk, or crisped fish skin and stewed chicken feet) are happening over on the a la carte menu. The signature menu bounces between big hitters and mild letdowns, with more of the former — and we reckon the best evening to be had at Imperial Treasure is probably perched at their lovely bar with whatever ad hoc dim sum order calls to you.
Still, we spot a powersuited pair of diners tucking into lobster rolls, one loudly trying to poach the other to come work for his bank. And fair play to him: if you were looking to court somebody for your big corporate and had an expense account to play with, Imperial Treasure's pisco sours, lobster rolls or chilli prawns would be a persuasive way to do it.
Imperial Treasure, 9 Waterloo Place, SW1Y 4BE. The signature set menu is eight courses for £88 a head.
Last Updated 10 April 2019