After a six million dollar makeover, The Imperial Hotel in Erskineville has managed to shake off its shady past and reinvent itself as a palace fit for queens.
The recently launched first floor of the venue has been named Priscillas after the cult Aussie flick The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, which was filmed on-site.
Priscillas has something for everyone — from food and drinks to dancing, drag, music, cabaret, burlesque and sexy magic (it's a thing). Whatever you're in to, it's probably here.
Designed by Alexander and Co, the extravagant new fit out includes a cherub-frescoed ceiling, velvet armchairs, gold and marble fixtures and multiple chandeliers.
There's a main bar, complete with a stripper pole and a drag stage, as well as various intimate spaces, including an indoor glasshouse with fringed umbrellas and a private pink dining room with streamers hanging from the ceiling.
Priscillas will offer a unique "dine and drag" concept, which will see the time-honoured tradition of drag return to the stage every night from 7:30pm.
Patrons can watch the show and order a meal from the pub menu, which is 85-percent vegetarian. And because this is an inclusive space, they also catered to vegans, the gluten- and lactose-intolerant and those with nut allergies. too.
The menu includes a whole page dedicated to ceviche, however on our visit, the yellowfin tuna with habanero agua, jicama and mint crema on lettuce boats ($20) tasted a bit lifeless, despite the mouthful of ingredients.
The best dishes were the simple ones, from the crispy cauliflower and broccoli "wings" with ranch dressing ($14) to the grilled corn with chipotle mayo ($9) and the moreish pumpkin and coriander frito balls with pequin chilli pepper and mint crema ($14).
The drinks list includes an impressive selection of international wines and local beers — from VB and Tooheys to Carlton, Young Henrys, Little Creatures and Byron Bay Brewery.
If you're in the mood for something fruity, try one of the cocktails, which take their names from legendary drag performers past and present. Priscilla character Mitzi (played by Hugo Weaving) is immortalised in a tropical punch of rum, passionfruit and lime, while Sydney drag queen Felicity Frockaccino makes an excellent impression with fresh apple, vodka and kombucha.
And if you thought all that was pretty cool, The Imperial also boasts a pumping nightclub downstairs called The Basement (open Friday and Saturday nights) as well as a soon-to-launch event space upstairs, which will be dedicated to LGBTQI exhibitions and workshops.
And following next year, the adjoining venue, also owned by The Sydney Collective, will become Australia's first same-sex wedding chapel.
So many great things happening in Erko, and we know just where to celebrate.
Images: Trent van der Jagt