What’s on the menu at Ultra, the revival of Charles Khabouth’s Queen West supper club, now at Yonge and St. Clair

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

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Name: Ultra
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.”

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The food

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.

Here we have a trio of tarts. On the right, Korean-style soy-braised shimeji, shiitake and king oyster mushrooms with white truffle oil, crispy artichoke skin and nori powder. In the back, chili-soy-marinated salmon in salmon mousse, finished with dill and shiso flower. And on the left, avocado with garlic aioli and a mix of white and green asparagus. $35 for three


Salmon tataki—salt-brined, torched and served skin-on—in a sweet-and-sour pool of lime and white miso. It’s garnished with crispy shallot, pickled green apple, triple-crunch mustard and crispy lotus chips, then finished with a drizzle of pungent wasabi oil to cut through the richness of the fish. $26


This is the bluefin tuna tart, a near-flawless bite showcasing different parts of the fish—namely the fatty belly, middle and leaner loin. It’s set in kombu-rich, ponzu-infused umami aioli and a touch of white truffle oil, then finished with smoked sea salt, micro shiso flower and (in case there wasn’t enough gold in the dining room) a few gold flakes. $18


This is Ultra’s take on a green goddess salad, with grape, pea shoot, avocado and baby arugula. The shiny white dollops are gelled buttermilk, and it’s all finished with goat cheese and a light yuzu dressing. $19


Here we have miso black cod, marinated overnight in sweet miso before being scored, seared and served crispy-skin-side-up. It’s plated on a delicate spring pea purée with a pea shoot salad dressed in yuzu juice and olive oil. $45


Meltingly tender reverse-seared hanger steak, drizzled with punchy black garlic sauce and topped with crispy artichoke skin. The artichoke also appears on the side as a purée, topped with fresh frisée and nestled up to a pan-seared mashed potato–scallion cake. $41 for six ounces, $81 for 12 ounces


In a posh take on beef carpaccio, chef Kim pairs thinly sliced Wagyu beef with a crisp salad of baby arugula, frisée, scallion and daikon radish. It’s topped with crunchy elephant garlic chips (cut from massive, fist-size heads of garlic) and served in a pool of mushroom soy sauce dotted with spicy wasabi oil. $39


Not enough Wagyu and gold so far? Not to worry—enter the Wagyu roll. Inside, there’s green and white asparagus and scallion grilled in kimchi sauce. On top: thinly sliced king oyster mushroom, some of that Wagyu beef, amber-hued uni mayo, truffle aioli, crispy sweet potato, parmesan and, of course, gold flakes. Served in balsamic soy. $31


A nest of somen noodles laced with umami-rich mushroom broth and served on black garlic sauce—mix to your heart’s content, depending on how garlicky you like your noodles. Topped with more chips cut from some of that gargantuan garlic. $21


Starting from the top, we have soy-glazed Japanese unagi, three cuts of tuna, Jeju Island flounder, sea bream (raised on a farm where—true story—the proprietors say “good morning” to the fish, believing that this imbues them with positive energy), two cuts of shima-aji (striped jack), Scottish tuna, scallops layered with Meyer lemon and sea urchin topped with crispy sweet potato. $88 for the platter


Here’s a closer look


Here we have Paris-Brest with injeolmi for a Korean-inspired take on the classic French praline-filled choux pastry. It’s topped with nutty toasted soybean powder and served with vanilla Chantilly. $17


A whimsical pavlova of passionfruit ganache, vanilla Chantilly and passionfruit gel, served on a lime meringue and with a quenelle of mango sorbet on more of that crumbly meringue. $15


Chef Kihyun Kim
The drinks

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).

This is the Seaside Cabana, a mix of aromatic Nicaraguan Flor de Caña rum, peach schnapps, blackberry tarragon syrup and a touch of lemon. It’s capped off with nutty Amaretto Disaronno foam. $21


From the martini menu, the Billion Blossom pairs Grey Goose vodka with pandan tincture and ultra-smooth Sanzen Omachi Tok Junmai sake. $21


The rich Haku blends Don Julio Reposado tequila with Grand Marnier, coconut cream and sweet-and-savoury Thai basil black pepper syrup. $19


Among Ultra’s mocktails is the Lowkey Fiction, a sweet sip made with watermelon cordial, Thai basil black pepper syrup and Giffard’s non-alcoholic bitters. $14
The space

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.

Photo by Ebti Nabag