It’s been a while since any wine/beer bar piqued my interest (article in Florida Food &Travel Magazine). I decided to check it out on a Wednesday night. My findings:
Location, location, location … It doesn’t get much more convenient than being just a few blocks of exit 84 off I-4 on Orange Avenue, not to mention the proximity to downtown Orlando. There is street parking and plenty parking lots around.
More than meets the eye … first thing that struck me when I walked in with my fellow foodie was an opulent chandelier right off the entrance. How Cool! I was pleasantly surprised with the eclectic, calm, & sensual style of the space. We made ourselves comfortable on a huge wooden divan style couch after checking out the place. Wait a minute? Was that a price tag we saw on the couch? Apparently, the entire store actually has a day time job as a Furniture Store and converts to a Bar promptly at 5 each night. And in case you are wondering, YES, everything that meets your eye including furniture, lighting, and décor is on sale.
There’s no denying that this is an awesome space …and huge. From the hand carved wooden chairs, benches, tables to the one of the kind bar, it invites you to check your stresses at the door and chill. They even have a back patio in case you want to socialize.
Don’t be intimidated … The idea of a Wine Bar & Beer Garden specializing in boutique wines and craft beers can be intimidating for the causal drinker. Don’t allow Mr. Washburn’s nonchalant attitude deter you from requesting suggestions if you feel overwhelmed; he did personally create the wine/beer list.
Even for someone like myself who is well knowledgeable (at least with beers & food); I found some beers I had never tasted before. Oh well! There is no better time than now to experiment. The concept is obviously beer-centric. The Imperial showcases the beer, some wine, and a lot of décor.
The beers we tried were: Lost Coast Great White Ale, Orval Trappist Ale, Belgium, and Petrus Oud Bruin Flanders Ale, Belgium.The drawback (aside from no table service), if you want to call it that is that the only food served is a Cheese & Charcuterie Plate platter. Which I might add maybe the best cheese selection I have tasted in CFL: Aged Cheddar, Stilton, Manchego, St. Andres (Yes, the double creamy French indulgence), super crisp Cornichons, Dolmas, Toasted Nuts, Olives, perfectly spiced and pickled Vegetables, Chorizo, Dry Salami, Hot Italian Salami, and Prosciutto, that suffices as the perfect party in my mouth.
Bottom line…. in my opinion, Imperial Wine Bar & Beer Garden is an ideal happy hour or late night destination to hang with colleagues and friends. And perhaps, you might be tempted to take some inspiration to decorate your own home too.