A banquet fit for a king – or a brother’s 30th birthday. That’s exactly what you’ll find on the menu at the Imperial Restaurant in Low Fell, Gateshead.
And when I say banquet, I mean it, in the most literal sense. Plates of sizzling steak Cantonese style; king prawns in Cointreau; scallops with ginger and spring onion will just keep appearing before your eyes.
It was my brother’s 30th and a family meal was on the agenda. Ok, you’d think me running a food and drink magazine would mean I’m a never-ending list of recommendations for restaurants.
It’s true, at least when friends or readers get in touch; but two days before his actual birthday when my brother decided he wanted a lastminute family get-together, I was a little stumped.
A serendipitous moment occurred. Just as the brain started to pluck out names of places, an email pinged into my inbox: If you have a special occasion, The Imperial Restaurant is the place to celebrate.
It was a full house, not a seat empty in the restaurant. A large group were singing happy 60th birthday to a family member surrounded by staff who clapped their hands.
I whipped out the obligatory flashing 30 badge and pinned it to my brother. The mood was relaxed, the vibe was good, the drinks started to flow – but could the food meet the mark?
The banqueting menu selection is a variety of set offers ranging from the Regal Banquet (£15.90 per person, minimum of two people) to the Imperial Banquet (£29.90 per person). There’s also a vegetarian option.
Our host – and restaurant owner Sindy – a wonderfully friendly character who ensures people have a great time – recommends we pip for the Imperial. “The scallops are amazing and the king prawns in Cointreau are just beautiful,” she tells us. We’re sold – and with that, the feast begins.
Now, this banquet isn’t for the faint-hearted, you’ve got to love your grub – and I’d definitely recommend skipping lunch. The appetisers of crispy aromatic duck; wantons; Japanese king prawns; salt and chilli king prawns and crispy seaweed are substantial. But we’ve come prepared.
The Spotties (it’s our family moniker) have got stamina. Out come the king prawns, the scallops, sizzling steak, beef kung po (ok, there’s a lot) and the salt and chilli prawns, plus Yeung chow rice and, yes, we ordered chips!
We all have our favourite dishes but for me, the scallops are perfectly cooked and the hints of ginger just lift them.
If you’re after a relaxed night with good food and service, get this place on your list. Cue the bottle of birthday bubbly (with sparklers) which Sindy and her team bring to the table!