A true collision of sweet and sour dining style
very grizzled fine-dining veteran knows that your enjoyment of dinner can be directly affected by where you’re seated in a restaurant. But I’ve never encountered two rooms as jarringly different as the ones on display at Sam Talbot’s new seafood restaurant, Imperial No. Nine, which opened several weeks ago off the lobby of the Mondrian Soho hotel. The main dining room, where I was seated one grim evening, is a windowless lounge-lizard Siberia. There, the house music is annoyingly loud, and the glowing imitation Louis Quatorze furniture looks like it’s been lifted from the VIP lounge of an after-hours club in suburban L.A. The garden room, by contrast, is an airy space enclosed in glass, like a giant greenhouse, and decorated with flowerpots and handblown chandeliers. On a clear evening, you can look up and see the stars twinkling dimly over downtown Manhattan.