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Review: Imperium Food and Wine Bar Restaurant

Review: Imperium Food and Wine Bar Restaurant

We visited Imperium on a Saturday night for an early dinner around 5PM without a reservation and were seated immediately.

Since it was a holiday weekend, we decided not to brave the parks, but just swim at the Wilderness Lodge pool and enjoy a low-key day with no real agenda.  We ate breakfast at the Roaring Forks food court where were subjected to the standard attack of the birds in their outside seating area.  The birds here are very aggressive.  On a previous trip, a bird actually grabbed a bite of pancakes out of my son’s hand, fork and all, and flew off.  I am expecting to see a reality show on this someday.

Between breakfast and dinner all we ate at the pool were a few bags of chips.  So, by the time we got to Imperium we were starving.

I have to begin by saying this is my favorite wine bar ever.

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First, the location is tough to beat.  If you have not visited the Town Center in Celebration, you simply must.  I have eaten in this area at least a dozen times and I have never, ever, had a meal I regret.  Tonight was no exception.  Imperium has around 25 seats directly on Market Street, about 40 seats inside, and a covered 50-seat patio in the rear of the restaurant.

Second, not only are the wine selections incredible, but the waiters and waitress really know their stuff.  I am so far from a wine expert it’s not funny, but I know how to describe what kind of taste I am looking for.  That’s all you need at Imperium.  Without hesitation, I got two very detailed and descriptive choices they felt would fit my request and when I hesitated for just a second to decide between the two our server, Luke, said, “why don’t I just bring you a taste of both so you can choose which one you would like?” Ahh, yes please.

Their wine menu is all reds on one side and all whites on the other and they have a total of 80 selections by the glass, plus a 15-bottle reserve list.  Yes, I did say 80 selections by the glass!  I decided on a mid range Kendall Jackson’s Vintner’s Reserve chardonnay and man was it smooth.

Third, there is the food.  Oh my gosh, the food.  Unlike a lot of wine bars I have tried, Imperium Food and Wine really deserves to have the word “food” in their name.

We started with what I thought would be two appetizers.  One was their Ying Yang Shrimp, which also comes in a chicken version.  The other was their cheese plate.  I say “thought” because the cheese plate was enormous.  It could have easily been a meal.  It had five different cheeses: Fontina Manchego, Brie, Smoked Gouda, Mozzarella, and one spreadable cheese I can’t remember the name of.  It came with a few nuts, grapes, and really fresh wafer thin crackers.  My son is twelve years old and we caught him later that night mumbling “Gouda, gouda, I need more gouda.”

The Ying Yang shrimp was unreal.  It was a little on the spicy side which I love, but my wife, who typically does not like the spicy stuff, picked her fork up for one more bite about 3-4 times after proclaiming she was done.  The closest comparison I can think of would be the Bang Bang Shrimp at the Bone Fish restaurant, but I think this is slightly better.  Which is saying a lot.

After the appetizers, we were beginning to question the need for a main course, but decided to try the Brochetta flat bread.  All I can say is, I love it when restaurants have the courage to add the spices, sauces and seasoning to make their food taste unlike any other restaurant.   That was the case with the flat bread and everything else we ordered.  I can honestly say, I could not go to any another restaurant and have a substantially similar experience.

Forth, a pleasant surprise was the addition of live music starting around 6pm.  I don’t remember the gentlemen’s name, but he was playing an acoustic guitar with an added sound track at times and it was a perfect addition to a wonderful evening.  Not only was the song selection wonderful, but also the volume was just right.  This is a personal thing, but I am way past the point where live music that is so loud I can’t carry on a conversation is appealing to me.

In my opinion, the most difficult decision you have to make at Imperium is whether to spend your entire evening here, or have a few drinks and an appetizer and dine at one of the other Celebration restaurants.  If your experience even vaguely resembles mine, I can promise you wont regret either choice.

F.A.S.T. Review

F-Food: Outstanding

A-Atmosphere: Excellent.

S-Service: Except for a lengthy delay for a second glass of wine, which came with a sincere apology, incredible.  Just this side of perfect.

T-Tips: Just go, yes, now.  If it is your first visit to Celebration, I would have a glass of wine and an appetizer at Imperium, then go to Columbia, (Cuban) for dinner.  After, you can enjoy some quiet time in the rocking chairs around the lake while the kids get soaked in the dancing fountains.

 

About David

David Killingsworth is the son of the founder of DisneyDining.com. As such, he might know more about Disney World Parks and Games than any other 17 year old. David is a technical genius and when he is not writing for our Disney sites he is a video game designer and avid gamer.

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