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Brunch at Imperial

I love breakfast. I love brunch. And I love Chef Vitaly Paley. If you haven’t gone to see him at one of his three Portland, Oregon restaurants, what in the name of smoked-heirloom-tomato-bloody-mary are you waiting for? Get on it!

Brunch at Imperial, Portland, Oregon

It was spring break, and I was looking forward to jury duty. Ok, not so much looking forward to jury duty on spring break, as I was trying to convince myself that I was doing my civic duty. Then I got the invite to have brunch at Imperial. I wanted to cry. A lot. Then I called in the night before the event, and… no jury duty that day! Woohoo! I’m IN baby!

Oh glorious breakfast with other food bloggers…

I love food. Yeah, I think you’re figuring that out, right? What you may not be aware of (yet), is I am a HUGE fan of Vitaly Paley. He’s a local chef that makes dining such a pleasure, and not in an over-the-top kind of way. The food is thoughtful, classic and approachable. Oh, and it’s mighty tasty, my friends. I’ve had the pleasure of dining with (and without) my husband on a handful of occasions at Paley’s Place, in Portland, Oregon. It’s the kind of place you go on a date night, where the food is so good, it makes one misty-eyed with joy.

The first time I set foot into Chef Paley’s newer establishment, Imperial, I was hooked. The atmosphere was vintage, with a modern twist. It’s decorated simply, with the focus on the food. Brick covered walls, gorgeous tile, soaring pillars in the center, framing expansive windows drawing in every bit of natural from our often dreary Northwest skies.

Menu at Imperial, Portland, Oregon

Doing your homework.

When Chef Paley came out to talk with us, I wanted to know more about the restaurant, and his inspiration. What was special about this place? He had done a fair amount of research into the history of Portland menus and recipes in the 1930-40s. His food at Imperial represented what he found in the history books. The logo of the place even tells that story. The building the cafe sits in has been standing in that very spot since 1909!

Connection to the past.

This is a man who knows his history, and did his best to represent it on the plate, including many cultures in our area. That connection is important to me as well, I get it. (If it wouldn’t have been so awkward, I would have lept across the table to hug him while he talked about this.) It means something to him, and it shows on the plate. Somehow, I swear it made the food taste better.

Chef Vitaly Paley

“If we can’t make it better, we buy it.”

How many restaurants smoke their own meats (sausage anyone?) AND heirloom tomatoes for their (legendary) Bloody Marys? Imperial is a place that looks for the best of the best, and if that’s not in-house, it’s the most passionate artisan they can find. This is the mark of a great restaurant, a place you’d return to over and over.

Ginger Mule, Imperial, Portland, Oregon

Details matter.

In a world of mass-produced hamburgers made of fake meat, it’s refreshing to be in a place that cares so deeply about their food, down to origins of their individual ingredients. Great food starts with outstanding building blocks. It takes inspiration, creativity and passion to put fry bread, warm ricotta, grilled pears, and honey so local you can drive a few minutes down the road to the hive. This is food that matters, speaks softly, with purpose. It’s only natural that it’s also mind-blowingly delicious.

Thanks to all the awesome folks at Little Green Pickle, Imperial‘s staff and Chef Paley for this intimate and fun event.

Be sure to read Michelle’s awesome write-up of this event, and her mouth-watering photos!

You can also check out the other (super fun!) bloggers on Twitter and their photos on from this event. Thanks for all the laughs and fun conversation gals!

Be sure to visit Imperial and experience the menu for yourself!

Imperial on Urbanspoon

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