This past winter I was invited to Kultura right outside of Toronto’s financial district on 161 King Street East. A gathering of food bloggers and experts, I was happy to be invited since it was my first food event to attend. The party of 30 of us was invited to taste the new revamped menu by the Chef Bernadette Calpito, which has a mix of Asian influences she gathers from her childhood and heritage.
The Chef and Visionary Behind the Food: Chef Bernadette comes from an Asian background, her background is her roots and her mom, everyone thinks of their culinary background differently. The cusuines that influence the menu at Kultura and her gourmet style are Korean, Asian and Hawaiian. In terms of the style of the plating, it’s a mix of contemporary including elements of the 80’s such as the dots made of some of the sauces and more modern plating. “How you cook and your influences are determined by how you think of food,” says Calpito, “I come to work to play. The dessert at Kultura has a French influence,” she shares. Prior to her stint at Kultura, she was a sous chef for three years and an executive chef at Papillon. Calpito has been Chef at Kultura since December 2011 now. Her personal favourite on the menu is the lamb chops and the beef tartar.
Ambiance: With 350 people capacity the restaurant has three floors, four rooms, two bars and one dining hall. Upstairs the high ceiling includes a private dining space for 8 to 40 people for parties. Dimly lit, the décor has modern but organic feel with Asian elements. Distressed brick walls and wooden elements complement the rooms and show the heritage of the building which is hundreds of years old.
The Food: Brought out in tapas style my husband and I nibbled on the medley of flavours presented in creative and colourful plating styles. Here are the dishes I chose to highlight:
Palak Paneer Naan: Drizzled with a sweet honey flavour the palak was cooked into the naan bread, a fluffy bread from East Indian cuisine that is traditionally made of leavened flour and cooked in a clay oven known as a tandoor. The bread was great to snack on, but I don’t think I’d order it myself, although the honey was a unique touch.
Mushroom Oriochette: Very rich tasting made of aged cheddar and cherry tomato; this was one of my vegetarian favs of the evening.
Beef Tartar: Made with a tender beef, thai green chilli and scallions in a corn shell these are delicious, the picture clearly tells this story here.
B52 Espressotini: What’s a review of an eatery without a hint on what their cocktails are like. I tried the B52 Espressotini, completely divine, basically an alcoholic version of Starbuck’s Caramel Frappuchino (code for PERFECT)! So if your into milky sweet cocktails this one is for you. The cocktail is made with Baileys, Kalhua, Frangelico, a shot of Espresso, a Caramel Swirl and Toffee.
Price Range and the Verdict: The food on the menu ranges from $6 for the naan to up to $30 for the Beef Tenderloin, all in tapa share plates, bite size odeurves so to speak. I’ll admit I haven’t been back yet but when I think of the assortment of flavours I tried on that evening my taste buds hearken back to the pork belly tacos and beef tartar, hands down my favourite. Since I come from an South Asian background, cuisine outside inspired from this area usually doesn’t compel me, so I was more compelled by the other Asian influences whether they were Thai, Japanese or Hawaiian. If you have an adventureous palette and are looking for a place to eat that is modern and unique Kultura may be your answer for your next drinks and quick bites with friends.