The Imperial Arms
577 King’s Road, SW6 2EH
Along the seemingly endless row of antique dealers and home design stores on Chelsea’s King’s Road, the porcelain white front of the Imperial Arms instantly catches the eye. Tucked away in the heart of the Chelsea Design Quarter, this quaint Victorian pub provided the perfect refuge from the torrential rain and howling Baltic winds outside.
As my guest and I tumbled inside, we were met with a cacophony of blood-curdling war cries that could only mean one thing: a pub quiz had commenced. In spite of the temptation to pounce on a question that appeared to stump the entire room (Q: who is the only player to have scored a hat-trick in all four tiers of professional football in England, FA Cup, League Cup and at international level? A: Rob Earnshaw), we were guided towards the quieter dining area.
Beyond the slinking line of dining booths to our right and a smiling chef to our left (unusual), we arrived at our table. The proximity to the outdoor area did not quite tempt us to sit outside, but the spacious courtyard would certainly make it an attractive spot for the summer months. Following our Revenant-style trek from the office to the pub (0.4km), my guest and I all but devoured the Artisan breads (£4.50) and Italian mixed olives (£3.50) that were laid before us. Not only did the olives placate our grumbling stomachs but their piquant flavour left us with a tinge of regret at the speed at which we ate them.
We were subsequently recommended a bottle of La Joya (£28) by our wonderfully helpful host, which we drunk in a timelier manner. Harking from the Colchagua Valley of Chile, this medium-bodied pinot-noir paired beautifully with my guest’s special of the day, a pheasant doused in a rich, herby sauce. Accompanied by fried potato, deep-fried Brussel sprouts and broccoli, my dining companion could only ignore my groking for so long before I was allowed to have a taste of my own. Such was the tenderness of the meat that, without hesitation, I plunged my fork into my poor guest’s meal for a ‘double-check’.
For my own main, I opted for the garden pea risotto that arrived with mint salsa verde, feta, and lemon oil (£13.75). Quite often, pea risottos risk the charge of banality but this was not one of those occasions. While modest in size (as any dish would have been in comparison to the pheasant), the pea risotto was finely presented and packed a wealth of flavour. To cap off the evening, my guest and I were treated to scoops of salted caramel, vanilla, and raspberry ice cream (£5.50).
The ice cream left us with the perfect close to a wholly pleasant evening at the Imperial Arms. From start to finish, the friendly staff delivered an exemplary service matched only by the quality of the food. For anyone looking for a warm, relaxing atmosphere to while away the hours, then the Imperial Arms would be a good bet. And for those looking to test their mettle at the pub quiz, do not any arrive later than 7pm on a Thursday!