My parents had eaten at the Imperial Hotel in Amador City years ago, but I never had the opportunity to eat there. So, my mother and I decided to order a take-out dinner from the hotel restaurant on December 9. The Imperial Hotel posts a new menu on their Facebook page on Wednesdays (give or take a day).
My mother called the hotel a little after 4:00 p.m. to place our order. I ordered the sausage with beans and roasted peppers. My mother ordered the grilled polenta. The person who took the order said that our food would be ready in 45 minutes.
After we parked in the lot adjacent to the hotel, we entered through the front door and I found the Imperial Hotel was indeed a 19th-century establishment. My mother immediately turned left into the bar and paid for our food while I waited in the lobby just inside the front door. One older gentleman was sitting and eating at the bar, and there always seems to be one at every location with a bar that we’ve been to so far.
The menu offered complimentary chocolate and cranberry cookies, but when we arrived, we were told the cookies weren’t ready and were offered a slice of chocolate cake or apple cake instead. We chose the chocolate cake, which came in a separate box.
Our meals came in rectangular paper boxes inside a plastic paper bag. The nice lady at the bar gave us our cake in a small paper box that we carried separately to the car. A few minutes after we entered, my mother and I were back outside on the front patio that faces Highway 49. When we got home and opened the boxes, we found the food was placed directly onto the boxes without any thin paper between the box and the food. The boxes held up well, with no deterioration or leaking.
The sausage and beans contained several two-inch slices of Italian sausage made with pork, cannellini beans, and a thick tomato ragù that the menu says contains tomatoes, kale, and roasted sweet peppers. A small helping of roasted, sliced carrots and three broccoli florets were also included. What’s more, I found two slices of a miniature baguette with my meal.
The menu said the sausage was mild, and that it was. The sausage was also pretty light and easy to eat, thankfully. When I took my first bite of the tomato ragù, I immediately had a burnt taste in my mouth. The taste was probably from cooking the ragù with the sausage and having some of the burnt sausage casing taste in the pan, but it was still a jarring sensation.
There were what I thought was the right number of beans—enough to provide some weight but not so much as to churn my stomach. The beans were firm and had enough water to be a good compliment to the sausage. The carrots and broccoli florets were firm but not mushy, and the bread was fresh with a crisp crust and chewy interior.
My mother’s grilled polenta, which is a dish developed in northern and central Italy, was boiled cornmeal solidified into a loaf and topped with shallot, mushroom, and sherry cream sauce. Though you can buy the polenta with vegetarian or chicken sausage for $4.00 more, my mother opted for the plain version. She found the polenta to be cheesy and dense enough to eat like cornbread, but not so dense that the polenta was hard to cut through or eat.
More than a few sliced mushrooms were placed on top of her polenta, and a few roasted, sliced carrots came with the meal as well. We also received a separate box with six slices of the baguette, so my mother had a couple of slices during dinner and saved the rest for later.
We saved the small slice of chocolate cake by putting it in a large Ziploc bag and we enjoyed it the next night as a complement to a second dessert—oat milk ice cream for my mother and pudding for me. The cake was dense but was still soft enough to cut easily and cleanly. When we cut our slices with our forks, the forkfuls of cake fell off into chunks.
Though we thought the cake was dry, the texture felt more like cheesecake and had a rich, chocolate flavor. We were pleasantly surprised.
The burnt taste of the ragù distracted me from the overall enjoyment of my meal. I also tried the ragù with the baguette, but the additional flavors of the bread didn’t detract from the burnt taste.
My mother was concerned about the shallot cream sauce possibly giving her stomach trouble because she is sensitive to lactose, but she came through with flying colors.
In sum, we turn on the green light, with demerits for the burnt tasting ragù but plaudits for the polenta and the chocolate cake.
The cost of our meals was a little over $33.00.
Want to Try Them?
During the effect of the stay-at-home order that will be in effect through at least the rest of the year, the Imperial Hotel is open Wednesdays through Sundays from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for take-out orders. You can learn more about the Imperial Hotel on its website.
The menu for the week (and weekend) is posted on the Imperial Hotel Facebook page every Wednesday, give or take a day. You can e-mail the Imperial Hotel with any questions, but a faster way to ask questions and the only way to order is by phone at 209-267-9172.
Amador Business Ticker food reviews are adventures in local dining with Editor Eric Butow and his mom.