Kultura Restaurant at 169 King St. E. is a feast not only for the tastebuds, but for the eyes and ears. Formerly the Wagner Rosenbaum Gallery, the three-storey restaurant on the edge of the St. Lawrence neighbourhood held a media event on Thursday, January 17, 2013 to sample the restaurant’s new 22-item tappas-style menu.
We were offered a seared snapper canapé with foie gras, tomato chutney and snow peas. The ocean fish was delicate and tender, yet the infusion of foie gras provided a decadent, rich complement.
The second floor of Kultura, in fact all three floors of the restaurant, is part tables à deux and part ample floor space for mingling. Finely-executed tapas form the backdrop of a predominantly social space. Postmodern artwork, remnants from the former tenant, not only embrace the exposed brick walls, but form conversation pieces to initiate interaction.
I don’t know where the tradition of declaring that a certain dish is so good, it’s “to die for” came from. The phrase seems a little melodramatic. Despite this, if one were to die for a dish, the Mushroom Orecchiette with Pinot Noir pear chutney would certainly be one of them. Although the pasta dumplings could have benefited from a little more boiling to ensure they were less al dente, this small omission was overshadowed when we crunched down to reach the delectably glorious wine-infused chutney forming a bed for the pasta. Chef Bernadette definitely hit her stride with this dish.
We were next treated to Chicken Samosas with apple chutney dip and asiago cheese. Having just sampled the most outstanding item on the menu, the poor little samosas didn’t stand a chance. In all fairness, the fried pastries were satisfyingly tasty, thankfully spiced up by the apple chutney.
A server approached our table with two delightfully dressed Malpeque oysters with strawberry champagne mignonette, bacon dust and chive crème fraiche. My dining companion chose one and as I went to take the other, the “gentleman” sitting at the table next to us reached across our table and grabbed the remaining oyster. Alas, I did not get to sample the Malpeque oyster; however, my friend deemed them delicious.
Other items on Kultura’s new tapas menu include Dungeness Crab Naan, Roasted Pulled Pork Tacos with tomatillo salsa, Seared Scallops with grape mustard, smoked bacon, asparagus purée and soy beurre blanc and Mediterranen naan with figs, prosciutto, arugula and goat cheese to name a few.
On this evening, Kultura introduced a new wine on their menu, Demaine Montagnette’s Grenache Syrah. My companion loved this fully-bodied red, which she found concentrated and fruity.
Do I recommend the new tapas menu at Kultura? Absolutely. The ambiance is warm, welcoming and distinctly fine dining while the culinary offerings are divinely inspired.
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