When it opened its doors a half dozen years ago, Kultura was an instant success. A reservation on a weekend was lusted over by those who craved a novel menu, a dramatic bartender and a room filled with beauty and power.
Alas, there was the internal wrangling that sometimes comes with success, and as things go, it went. Sold: to Frank Nyilas, entrepreneur, risk-taker and virgin restaurateur. A new owner might have considered changing the name of this interesting space, but Frank did not.
His smart decorating choices have created a heightened mood of an exotic locale with private dining areas and rooms on different levels. Parties and celebrations do not infringe on the tables of twos and fours in the main dining room. Enter and you are in the lounge and bar, with its enormously comfortable brown leather seating. Here, you can enjoy a few dishes and cocktails or a multi-course dinner.
The Tasting Menu offers twenty six sharing dishes–generous and meant for sharing. I am not ashamed to say I have tasted twenty five, and with each new dish my inner foodie soul said, “this one is the best.”
Prepare your taste buds for take-off with one (or all three) outrageously delicious Naan. Begin with the crispy yet soft flat loaf filled with black onion seed and harissa yogurt; go on to a Naan with truffle oil, and jalopena peppered honey; then graduate to the Mediterranean Naan filled with fresh figs, Proscuitto, roasted garlic and shaved Grano Padano. Wisely act on the sommeliers wine recommendation that enhances these flavors. Servers are intimate with the menu and happy to offer suggestions.
It is most unusual for anyone, especially someone like me who eats with a critical palate, to like every single dish on a menu.
Hawaiian garlic lobster sings with seasonings of sweet paprika, Thai chili and coriander; spiced lamb rack, dusted with sesame, smoked Dashi and Jalapeño prepared as tempura is a brilliant pan-Asian offering; Tandoor Shrimp baked in the special oven glistens with spiced tomato chutney and sits nicely on mustard greens quinoa. It’s all enough to make a foodie weep with joy.
I return within days, wanting more, more, more. Mushroom Orecchiette bathed in aged Cheddar and punctuated with Pinot Noir Chutney is an education in how to style Mac and cheese. Fish lovers rejoice in the intricate delicacy of Chilean Sea Bass and Chai Black Cod. And Beef Tenderloin, prepared in the newly re-discovered ancient method of sous-vide, glissed with Chipotle glaze, and partnered with Moroccan spiced corn and ginger Gailan will satisfy every corner of your meat eating spirit.
My vegetarian friend couldn’t be happier with Tofu and vegetable Thai curry that has all the flavor nuances and freshness we love in Thai cuisine.
If you can’t bear to share the food on your plate, a not uncommon trait for those uncomfortable with tasting menus, there are generously portioned entrees on the menu.
Dessert? Who can turn up their nose at a cheesecake trio that includes cherry/white chocolate; chocolate brownie; and almond honey . Caffeine Free herbal health teas will send you home feeling indulged and virtuous.
Prefer a private dinner party? Ask about Kultura’s home or corporate/business catering. It will knock your socks off!
Kultura : 169 King St. E. (at Jarvis St.) Toronto, Ontario M5A 1J4