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Kultura on King


Nondoctor
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I did a wee search and couldn't find any topics on here...

Have any of you been there as of yet?

Kim Cyr (ex-George) is doing the wines, so they should be up to scratch!

I attended at Kultura for dinner with a group last week. I live just down the street but had not heard that this place had opened. Its on the south side of King east of Jarvis.

The rooms were fantastic (never made it up to the third floor), in particular, the dinning room set back on the second level with the sky lights really made this one room unique as compared with any place I have been to. The lines were sleek and although the dining chairs are the fancy type that I do not normally like, they were surprisingly comfortable and did not present you with any awkward feeling while dining (there is nothing worse sitting on a fancy chair and feeling as though you are a few inches to low to eat or to far away etc.). The staff in the stairwells was a little interesting/creepy but it was OK. Watch out for the perfectly clean plate glass sheets that are on one side of the stairwell as that is not the entrance to the stairwell as I saw two people walk straight into the glass (including me but that may have been for other reasons as you will see below)....perhaps this is the reason for the staff in the stairwell?

The restaurant concept appeared to be a communal tasting menu. Since we were with a larger group I did not know what such a meal would cost and there is no menu at the restaurant's website when I looked after (arghhh! - although they do have a little fancy intro, I would have thought a PDF of a menu and wine list could very easily be added http://www.kulturarestaurant.com/ - oh well, such is life - I did not see if a menu was posted by the door either, which I think although restaurants do not think this is classy, I find that I will walk by a place that does not have one to avoid the awkwardness of asking staff at the front for a menu and then for a variety of reasons the place is not what I am looking for in terms of cost, style etc. and have to leave - perhaps on my walk to work this morning I will see if there is one posted).

Although it appeared as though a course was grouped in threes, things just came out when they were ready. I liked staff giving the descriptions of what we were eating since you would think it was one type of cuisine and then it would taste like another type - Edamame in a black bean sauce for example. I really liked this and I think that the concept worked well.

In our case, I think there was about 3 sets of 3 dishes group together with deserts but as the dinner went on so too did the number of refills of wine that I had. Also, I did not snag a menu so for me to get into exactly what we ate may be a little bit hazy, but I recall everything that I had was very good. I do like communal dinning though so you have to like it also.

I think that this concept will work well with even number of dinners and in smaller groups but this did not seem to work as well with our larger groups since there was really no way to know how many people were to share one plate (i.e. at our table of about 9 people). For example, there was a cool temperature noodle dish with a mustard and pepper sauce (which was very very hot and I like things spicy but this was damn hot) and there were about 4-5 nicely presented and tied bundles of noodles, however, we did not know how many people were to share this (i.e. was it to be shared with 3 or 4 or 5?)? They had brought a good number of them to the table but I could not do the math. So I just ate what I thought was for me and that seemed to work. One time a plate came out and I did not get to try the dish so we had to ask for another - which they were very willing to do. I suspect this is a big group thing and for 2 or 4 this format would probably not be an issue.

As larger group dinners go this was a very good one. I am very used to the beef, fish and chicken and I very much hate them - and let me tell you I see this at too many places. This was a very nice change. However, as larger group dinners go, I am used to private functions being private, and not semi-private as seemed to be our case due to the layout of the place (and I think they tried to do another set of covers at around 9:30 after us) - I have no idea what the arrangements were so this could be purely as a result of our own planners.

After dinner we were shuttled to the downstairs bar area, which had now become very busy, so there were no places for our group to sit and people decided to leave and go to another bar for additional drinks. I stayed since I was within walking distance and had more drinks that I should not have had. I really liked the wine glasses used to serve us. Nice size bowls and I did not get the feeling they were industrial strength (i.e. half a centimetre thick). I was probably one of the un-hip people in such a hip bar but in any event I would venture back with my wife as this is so close and they seemed to have a number of wines by the glass (I think the mix killed me when I started into the single malts that night though).

I also did not get a chance to look at the wine list so I can not advise on any gems or value etc. and since I buy a lot through agents and have a pretty good idea what is out there I always like to see if something comes into the city that I have not yet got my grubby hands on. We did have a Bogle Chenin Blanc with dinner - not sure on the red. It went well with the food but you can not get to pricy and exotic with a big dinner.

As I noted, as group dinners go this is up there as one of the better ones I have had in a while (last good one was the Earth Day Gala dinner with Michael Stadtlander).

I liked the dining concept at Kultura and the room was very nice. I would have to check on the price of things to see if I would venture back on my own. Will certainly check out the bar for drinks again though.

That said, I can not advise on matters of cost, value or wine selection. Sorry.

officially left egullet....

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Kultura is really a tapas-style place under the 'social dining' sleight-of-menu. Offerings are in a similar category to JK, Lee, Cava etc.

The menu has 16 small dishes (and a separate dessert menu), intended to be shared, priced around $10-$12. There are about 50 wines - all available by the glass (6 oz) or 'terzo'(8 oz mini-carafe, suitable for sharing). In theory the dishes come out randomly (as at Lee), but we were there fairly early and the courses came in a logical sequence for the most part.

That's the technical description, but the real question is how good is it? And there it's firing on all cylinders. I hesitate to rank a place on one visit - but you asked for feedback and it's all positive.

The food is as good as it gets in this style. Better than Cava and JK, and certainly of Lee standard. As our dishes were logically progressed, I'd put it above Lee on this occasion. The servers were very knowledgeable - all dishes were fully described and questions answered. I didn't take any notes (just dropped by when in the area), but we shared 8 dishes and several were outstanding. My favourite was the pork 'chop' (which comes pre-sliced) but everything was pretty good. All presentations are interesting - often including a couple of dips.

The wines were also well-chosen (as one would expect with Kim there) and fairly priced, given the location. The selection was definitely better than either Lee or Cava and comparable to JK. So overall, better than all 3 of the competitors (but only 1 try). Well worth a visit.

Incidentally, the restaurant part is on the second floor, although you check in with the lounge which occupies the ground floor.

There is no sign on the building. But it's a couple of doors away from Hiro.

I'm certainly returning.

EDited to add:

Just checked their website:

Also really liked the Mediterranean Chicken Samosa and Jamaican Chicken Risotto.

The Tuna Tartare and Spiced Tandoor Beef were also excellent.

The Chilled Pea Soup, Toasted Lobster Ravioli and Caribbean Shrimp were all good - we finished everything - but something has to bring up the rear.

For dessert we tried the Vanilla Sugar Doughnut Holes (and thanks for the spelling here) which came with both a Caramel and Mango Dip; and the Apple Crumble with Plum/Walnut Ice Cream (and for vintage port lovers check out the price on the 1980 Gould Campbell).

Edited by estufarian (log)
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  • 1 month later...

I was there a few weeks ago and the food was fair and all right for the price. The Asian fusion menu is definitely interesting, like Jamaican Chicken Risotto and Fish and Chips, but with due respect to estufarian, I think they are a notch below JK and Lee, but definitely above Supermarket (the restaurant/club on Augusta).

The ambiance is like something out of Manhattan, catering to the young professional and you'll see a lot of "good looking" people (except for me, of course :cool: ). At least that was the demographics of the clientele that Friday night. Overall, it's definitely worth a try, especially if a you're with a group of friends where being seen is just as important as the food itself.

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I think they are a notch below JK and Lee, but definitely above Supermarket (the restaurant/club on Augusta).

Not a response (or rather a defence; obviously this is a response), more of an explanation:

I have 'issues' with JK - it always bothers me that the aromas from dishes being cooked waft over the diners (a common problem with open kitchens - and perhaps why I'm not knocked out by Perigee, also a favourite on the board). So I don't get to enjoy the 'purity' of each dish, rather a combination of my dish with those being cooked. (Those with long memories may recall me raising this topic in the Grant Achatz Q&A - I have similar issues with burning leaves and pouring hot water on conifers).

And the random serving order of dishes at Lee is another bugbear. Maybe next time at Kultura (assuming I can get a reservation) they'll do that to me also as most reviews comment on this issue at Kultura.

But I'm still happy to recommend all 3 to visitors to Toronto - they're all good.

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