restaurants
Imperial No 9
9 Crosby Street
212 389 1000

To say this spot is sceney would be the understatement of the year. From Top Chef favourite and Montauk hotspot owner Sam Talbot, the flagship restaurant - an enclosed garden room - at the front of the Mondrian Soho looks like what the home in Great Expectations might have looked like if it hadn't gotten run down. Though the food gets mixed reviews (and yes, we agree with that assessment), winners on the menu include the king crab legs (done nicely in a light butter), the spicy cucumber kimchee, and a delicious sustainable fish done on a bed of mustard greens. So good that we got another side of the greens. The unevenness comes with the unusual items such as the cauliflower fritters which are more little fried balls of puree than the chunky bits of veg with light batter one would expect. Or the shrimp and corn grits, which is more suited to a brunch menu, being really a bowl of grits with some grilled shrimp on top as opposed to, say, a shrimp main with a side of grits. You'll also want to ask about the size of the dishes as some things are surprisingly small whereas others are generously portioned, and the whole "meant to share" doesn't meant what you think here. But it's worth coming to try it - even the oysters don't come with the standard mignonette but Talbot's own tweaked versions - and there is something about the room, the energy, the scene at the bar, that will make you feel as though you are at the center of everything important happening right that moment in Manhattan.

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