At Kulto, the restaurant comes dressed less like a restaurant, and more like a cosy dining space. Wooden shutters, a common sight in Madrid households, flank the walls of the dining space. And central to the entire eatery is a lively open kitchen, where chef-owner José Alonso stands proudly by.
The Rioja-born chef brings with him experience from Binomio, The Tapas Club, and more. But the menu here isn’t high-end nor casual; instead, Kulto seeks to present largely authentic plates at a mid-tier price point. It is best exemplified in the two-course set lunch ($30). Start with the croquettes, stuffed with Iberico ham, and sample a chilli crab variant that is creamy and lightly spiced. The classic pairing of chorizo and potatoes is made even more comforting here with the addition of soft-boiled eggs. To enjoy, break the yolk and stir everything to create a velvety mixture, best enjoyed with mouthfuls of bread.
Squid ink paella, a signature, requires a minimum of two to order. Within the huge pan comes plump bomba rice comes cooked in a base of sofrito, then studded with bits of chicken and seafood. Ours came a little heavy-handed on the salt, but we’ll gladly take any reason to guzzle down Kulto’s refreshing sangria ($10), which is available on tap; and the sparkling version ($12) that comes hinted with notes of banana. Also worth a try is a selection of wines, sourced directly from the chef’s personal vineyard back in Spain.
A cheesecake might sound too heavy to end a hearty meal with, but Kulto has created a deceptively light version – where zesty Manchego cheese is used in place of heavy blue cheese – that is all too easy to consume.