I caught up with my friend Matt for lunch today, and we decided to meet at The Imp in East Victoria Park. According to its website, The Imp specialises in “breakfast, baguettes, salads, tapas, cakes and more” – an old menu can be viewed online to give an idea of the selection available. It received a positive write up in The West Australian Good Food Guide 2011, scoring 12/20, and is located within walking distance of The Park Centre so parking is easy at any time of day.
The restaurant is small and quite cramped, but thankfully it wasn’t very busy so we were able to get a table. Ordering is done at the counter, although this wasn’t immediately obvious – we had been seated for nearly ten minutes before Matt went to the counter and asked for menus. None of the staff approached us during this time to see if we would like anything, or even to ask if we intended to order.
We had both looked at the menu online, and I was a little disappointed to see that the item I had chosen (cheesy baguette with brie, lettuce, sliced apple, walnuts and local honey) was no longer available. Matt ordered the chicken BLT ($16) and I ordered the pumpkin & sage arancini ($12) and a serve of fries ($7).
We were both surprised when my order arrived, as it wasn’t made clear on the menu that the arancini was a tapas item – I’d remembered from the website that tapas is only served from 1pm (we were earlier than that), and it was a similar price to the baguettes and other more obvious lunch items. I had actually wondered if ordering the fries would be too much; in hindsight I would have been extremely hungry if I hadn’t.
The serving size was five arancini, each about 1.5 inches in diameter. They were quite stodgy and crying out for some kind of sauce – well overpriced at $12. I realise that they were meant to be part of a tapas meal, and I never have an issue paying for decent food, but if that quantity and quality had been presented to me in the form of a risotto I would have sent it back. The fries were fresh and crisp, accompanied by a very garlicky and rather thin aioli. The serving size was generous, but then again I’d expect it to be for $7.
To make matters worse, Matt’s chicken BLT arrived some ten minutes after my meal. The restaurant wasn’t busy, so I have no idea why it took so long. At one point a waitress came over of her own accord to apologise for the wait, but his meal still wasn’t served for another three to four minutes.
Matt enjoyed his chicken BLT for the most part, although it only contained enough chicken to cover just over half of the roll. The rind had been left on the bacon which always makes for either a chewy surprise or a mess removing it before you start. I wasn’t impressed by that at all.
With neither of us being overly satisfied with our lunch, we decided to give dessert & coffee a go. The dessert selection was well presented and appeared to be of high quality, including biscuits, brownies, cheesecakes, tarts and so on.
Matt ordered the chocolate fudge cake, which was served warm with ice cream. He said that it was as delicious as it looked, and thankfully not as heavy as he expected – he noted in particular the high quality of the chocolate used.
I ordered the rhubarb-custard crumble, which was also served warm with ice cream. I was impressed with this dessert – the custard had flecks of vanilla through it and the tartness of the rhubarb had been tamed, perhaps just a little too much. If I were to criticise, the crumble could have used more than one texture (perhaps some nuts mixed in with the biscuit) and I would have liked it served hotter to make the most of the ice cream.
We both agreed that the coffee was drinkable, but nothing special. Quite unusually it was too strong, which makes a change from the weak and watery coffee usually served around town. At least it didn’t have the horrible burnt taste so often delivered by cafes that claim to serve decent coffee.
The two desserts and coffees cost $22, so we spent a total of $57 between us – not cheap by any means. Dessert definitely saved the day on this occasion, but neither of us will be going back for lunch in a hurry. There are a few nice-sounding breakfast items (including the “heart-stopper roll” with bacon, hash browns, chipolatas, cheese and house made barbecue sauce) which might tempt me, but I’d be wanting a better cup of coffee.