Imperial No. Nine

Imperial No. Nine, located at the Mondrian SoHo Hotel, is definitely not a place one can easily pass by without becoming immediately curious. Intrigued and guided by my senses, I stepped into Executive Chef Sam Talbot’s restaurant; the recent Top Chef reality-TV celebrity has made a leap from Montauk to SoHo. The restaurant accommodates 150 guests and was designed by my favorite and ever-so talented Morgans Hotel Group. They are well-known for their luxurious hotels in South Beach of which include the Mondrian, Delano and Shore Club, just to name a few.

As I entered the restaurant through a vine-covered atrium, I thought I had stepped into a secret garden. This beautiful greenhouse with dozens of potted ferns and natural ficus trees adorn the room. The wall colors are soothing, elegant and surrounded by neutral overtones, ranging between greens and tans. The furnishing was elegant yet comfortable with a mix of garden chairs and painted wrought iron upholstered chairs. The tables are white marble giving a flawless finish, which adds to the concept of this restaurant. Charming crystal chandeliers are suspended from the beautiful glass ceiling. Hammer beam construction makes good use of short horizontal and vertical beams, distributing the thrust of the glass and ceiling weight. These short beams rise in steps from the top of the wall to the roof peak, creating a wide-open space. Plenty of natural light illuminates the tables alongside a beautiful oversize glass sculpture centerpiece that was created by well-known glass artist and instructor, Beth Lipman. Her urns and vases are part of the Table decor. Inspired by Cocteau’s story, the 1946 foreign film, La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast), the piece alludes to where “seduction takes the form of an elaborate nightly feast.”

The neighboring dining area has a more traditional feel with mirror-topped communal tables that enhance the area to look long and sleek. The furnishing has overtones of beige and gold to match the walls. The ceiling is an illuminating blue, with two rows of recessed lights that radiate the room. Clusters of crystal chandeliers adorn the ceiling above the communal tables. The seating arrangement is luxurious, furnished with U-shaped banquette seats. The bar has a quartz counter top with a large pyramid-shaped mirror behind it that gives the illusion of a far greater space. Next to the bar area on either side are unique wall panels, which mimic the fin of a fish, a suitable piece supporting the essence of a seafood restaurant.

Top-notch décor. Excellent cuisine. Simple elegance and charm. A place to enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner with good company, making the day a perfect 10, all at Imperial No. Nine.

Executive Chef Sam Talbot is on a mission to support a greenconscious menu, abide by his farm-to-table ethics, and promote healthier eating habits. Recently diagnosed with diabetes, Sam Talbot has an upcoming book, published by Rodale, called Sam Talbot’s Guide to the Sweet Life: Living Large with Diabetes. It is 75 percent cookbook and 25 percent lifestyle guide. Some parts are tricks of the trade and how to substitute sweeteners, while the rest of the book is full of just delicious recipes that are certainly worth experimenting with.

– Vanessa De Leon


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