Hottie chef Sam Talbot found fame on Season 2 of Bravo's Top Chef (and later on The Real Housewives of New York City), and went on to run the kitchen at the Williamsburg Cafe and Surf Lodge in Montauk. But before the big city and celebrity chef status, the Sicilian-American was in Charlotte, North Carolina, where he spent his childhood fishing off the Carolina coast. So on some level his latest venture, a seriously sustainable seafood restaurant called Imperial No. 9, brings things full circle. It opens today; here's the menu and a look inside the luxurious interior.
Located in the new Mondrian SoHo hotel, we're told the 180-seat restaurant draws inspiration from Jean Coucteau’s 1946 French fantasy film La Belle et la Bête, "an iconic romantic adaptation of two French fairy tales." The centerpiece is a delicate over-sized glass sculpture created by artist Beth Lipman, which alludes to Cocteau’s story "in which seduction takes the form of an elaborate nightly feast." The two dining rooms and bars feature "What Recession?" touches like crystal chandeliers, mirror-topped communal tables, an oak and cream stone bar, a transparent glass roof, and a double-sided cottage swing, where you can sip elaborate cocktails and agonize over the carbon footprint left by your trip to St. Bart's.
The menu features responsibly sourced ingredients from CleanFish, Wild Edibles, Litchfield Farms, and Frog Hollow Farms. Talbot’s dishes are created for sharing and include Fried Oysters with Chow Chow and Crispy Ham ($19); Slow Cooked Octopus with Jalapeno Sofrito, Lime and Soy ($24); King Crab a la Plancha with Sweet & Sour Butter and Crispy Garlic ($32); and a Daily Sustainable Catch featuring a selection from the Seafood Watch list. (The full dinner menu's below.) The wine list emphasizes biodynamic and organic wines alongside the old world classics, while the specialty cocktail list is "presented distinctly by numbers only with ingredients listed below—an ordering practice inspired by the menus of its neighboring restaurants in Chinatown." So everyone will feel right at home!
9 Crosby Street; Call (646) 218-6455 or go to Open Table for reservations.