What’s on the menu at Ultra, the revival of Charles Khabouth’s Queen West supper club, now at Yonge and St. Clair
We’re reminded of a certain Harry Styles song
Contact: 12 St. Clair Ave. East, ultra-toronto.com, @ultratoronto
Neighbourhood: Deer Park
Previously: Arthur’s Restaurant
Owners: Charles Khabouth, Danny Soberano, Michael Kimel and Brandon Marek (INK Entertainment Group, Harlo Entertainment)
Chef: Kihyun Kim
Accessibility: Fully accessible
The new Ultra supper club is part reopening, part reimagining. Anyone who frequented Toronto’s nightclub scene 20 years ago may remember the original—a glitzy Queen West spot that brought some glamour to the previously gritty strip, complete with velvet ropes, frequent celebrity cameos and a killer rooftop patio. Now that some of its OG patrons have moved into the more moneyed neighbourhoods north of Bloor, Ultra (which closed in 2012) has followed suit, taking over the sizable midtown venue formerly occupied by Arthur’s Restaurant.
Ultra is a restaurant and an entertainment venue rolled into one. Dinner is served from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., at which point every Friday and Saturday, the mood shifts decidedly into late-night party mode. The opening bash was sponsored by Paco Rabanne and Bentley, and featured models (humans, not cars) decked out in gold, casually lounging around the dining room entrance. The theme here appears to be unabashed luxury. “We want to create something elevated, sexy and a little edgy,” says co-owner Charles Khabouth, who also helmed the original location. “You can start with a drink, sit down for dinner and, when the music volume increases and the lights dim, feel free to get up and dance.”
Pan-Asian is the name of the game here, with heavy Japanese influences and glimpses from the cuisines of China, Korea and Vietnam. Seafood plays a starring role—there’s a solid à la carte sushi selection, a gorgeous sashimi platter with a rotating selection of premium piscine product and tasty sharing plates like pineapple chili shrimp. The selection of mains—a highlight of which is an impeccable hanger steak with an umami-bomb black garlic sauce—is decidedly meatier. The desserts are an unmitigated delight and include a passionfruit pavlova that looks like something designed by Studio Ghibli.
This being part nightclub, when dinner wraps up, bottle service is on offer, and it’s a good spot to be spoiled for premium liquor—likewise with the selection of sake and wine. A pairing menu is in the works, but for now, guests can expect an expansive list with good representation from the Niagara region. There’s also a tight, creative cocktail menu and a fun martini menu featuring variations that take cues from the food (think pandan, red bean essence and lychee liquor).
The main “Ochre” dining room—inspired, like the rest of the space, by the surreal, dramatic designs of Alexander McQueen—seems to be a meditation on how many gold-toned elements you can fit into a single room. An octagonal perimeter covered in velvety drapery lines a room filled with plush couches and armchairs, tables set with gilded silverware and a bespoke chandelier comprised of gold chains hung with hand-blown glass orbs. The dimly lit “Onyx” room has a markedly different mood—black is the dominant colour here, including black banquettes, fringed and fur-backed furniture, and a bar lined with glowing cubic shelves. Upstairs on the rooftop, the vibe of the “Mineral Lounge” is Miami chic, with teal velvet sofas, tasseled parasols and a green marble bar.