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Imig’s Kitchen and Bar at the Lafayette Hotel (2232 El Cajon Boulevad, 619-780-0358) has been steadily goofing with their menu since I first went there last fall. For a while now, they were serving a modified bistro menu of smaller plates and reserved entrees. It was a little all over the place and stronger as a happy hour distraction than as a dinner destination. Sadly, long gone were the eggplant fries that captivated my attention, and for which I returned at one point, only to have my hopes crushed.

Now, it looks like Imig’s has changed their game yet again with a new menu. It’s (significantly) more expensive, but much more of a proper dinner menu at the same time.

Small plates and starters have crept up in price to the $7-$13 range, which takes them further from the domain of bar snacks. Steamed clams in a sofrito sauce, grilled shrimp with Humboldt Fog cheese, and portobello mushroom polenta are almost meals in their own right.

The selection of entrees had greater focus and involvement, which came at a higher price. Some dishes--like the individual “pot roast” or the grilled skirt steak with succotash, collards, and pan gravy--edged up against the $20 mark just without breaking it. “Old school” meatloaf ($15.50) received a generous amount of zesty, housemade ketchup and gravy made with red ale. A brief encounter with a saute pan gave the slices of meatloaf a delightful crispiness. Potatoes and carrots the side were appropriately old school.

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The zealously named “4-hour beer-braised pork shoulder” ($16) tasted more of alternating melting and crispy fat than beer. The huge hunks of pork lay surrounded by sweet potatoes and fried plantains with some fresh arugula composing a raft above the thick, sweet sauce.

There were definitely some soul food influences in the new menu: the collards and succotash on the steak and the sweet, almost candied flavors in the pork shoulder. But Imig’s new menu; with pot roast, chicken and dumplings, and meatloaf; really pays homage to mid-century American cooking more than anything else. Considering the location in the Lafayette Hotel, with the pictures of early-Hollywood types on the walls, it fits.

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