No high resolution image exists...
The Dine Downtown Restaurant Week event opens on Friday for its sixth year and the participating restaurants strive to provide their best each year. The newly opened Kupros Bistro has joined the line-up and offers a fresh option to the event. My wife, Laura, and I are not trained food critics, but we enjoy dining out frequently in the downtown/midtown area. We had not been to Kupros yet, so we jumped at the chance to preview their Dine Downtown menu.
Housed in a recently remodeled 100-year-old craftsman structure that is both stunning and comfy, Kupros Bistro is a dining and architectural experience. It is located at 1217 21st Street, between Capitol Avenue and L Street at the previous location of Cheap Thrills, a vintage clothing and costume shop. (Cheap Thrills has moved a few doors down.) As we walked up the steps to the first floor entrance, I immediately noticed the multi-colored stained glass ceiling over the bar in the center of the room. It was massive. Dark wood dining booths lined each sidewall and one large-screen television was mounted on the back wall, near the kitchen door. Plenty of rich wooden accents were a clear indication that someone had put a lot of work into the renovation of this building.
Kupros Bistro is located in a 100-year-old craftsman building on 21st Street in midtown.
The stained glass ceiling over the bar on the first floor.
Kupros’ owner, Stephen Tokuhama, told us the reconstruction took a little over two years, but the permitting process stretched the entire project out to five years. Kupros Bistro opened for business in August 2010. He chose the name “Kupros” after researching the origins of copper, a prominent metal in the interior design of his building. Copper originated on the island of Cyprus; Kupros is a transliteration of the name Cyprus. Tokuhama hired three different local glass artists to install the extensive stained-glass treatments throughout the structure.
As we climbed the stairs to the second floor, we noticed the sounds of the festive bar downstairs being replaced by low-key lounge/jazz music upstairs. We were seated on the second floor in one of the two small rooms that holds three tables. This seating arrangement gave a quieter, more intimate feeling than the first floor area. Other rooms on the second floor included a cozy sitting area, and a larger room that looked like it could seat about 40-50 people.
The second floor dining areas are intimate and comfortable.
A cozy sitting area on the second floor
The building is absolutely gorgeous, but we came to eat. Our server, Christiana, was very friendly and attentive as we quickly made our selections.
The Dine Downtown menu at Kupros Bistro features two choices for the first course: Baby Lettuce with poached pears, walnuts, maytag blue and a red wine vinaigrette, or Roasted Red and Gold Beets, with chevre, apple, arugula and sherry vinaigrette. Laura selected the baby lettuce and I chose the beets.
The second course offerings are Rabbit Sugo, Coq Au Vin (red wine chicken), Steak Frites or the Fish Du Jour. The fish du jour was pan-seared opah with kumquat chutney, mustard greens and potato croquette. Laura ordered the fish and I opted for the red wine chicken which came with a parsnip potato puree. We were told we could choose our third course of gelatos later. I wondered how many choices we would have with gelato, but was pleasantly surprised when that time came.
The meal included a glass of La Terre wine. As their least expensive wine, the La Terre cabernet was very good.
The first course arrived promptly. Served on chilled plates, the salads were crisp and fresh. The roasted beets were sweet, firm and delicious. Christiana brought us some French bread to accompany the salads, but that didn't slow us down at all. I tried to pace myself, just to be polite. It didn't work - the salad was no match for my appetite.
The Roasted Red and Gold Beets, with chevre, apple, arugula and sherry vinaigrette.
Between courses, Laura and I looked over the regular menu and saw some interesting terms, like "grass-fed beef" and "beer cheese". When Stephen stopped by our table, he told us the chef selects the ingredients carefully from local providers. The dinners are in the $14 - $18 price range and the menu choices will change regularly to reflect seasonal availability of the items.
Our second courses came out and the first thing I noticed was the enticing aroma of the Coq Au Vin. My chicken entree was excellent. It was prepared with bacon, pearl onions and mushrooms. The red wine sauce gave it a nice balance of sweet and savory. The potato puree was very smooth and tasty.
Laura's opah was cooked perfectly. It had a texture similar to halibut and the kumquat chutney gave it a pleasant citrus flavor. Her potato croquette was soft-centered with a thin deep-fried outer shell. It was reminiscent of a large crab cake in appearance. I was a little envious. I kept eyeing the potato puck on Laura's plate. It slowly disappeared, as I expected.
The Fish Du Jour was pan-seared opah with kumquat chutney, mustard greens and potato croquette.
The portion sizes were deceiving; they looked a bit nominal but when we finished we felt fulfilled. Remembering the shelf life of most New Year's resolutions was about seven days, we were thankful the portions were not any larger.
As we finished our main course, the executive chef, Matthew Robinson, visited our table. We asked him about his background and he explained he started cooking at a very early age. He told us, "I've known I wanted to be a chef since I was seven years old. When the other kids were out playing cowboys and Indians, I was in the kitchen, cooking." Before coming to Kupros Bistro, Robinson was sous-chef at Slocum House, Spataro and Waterboy restaurants.
After Matthew left, Christiana told us our choices for gelato. I figured this would be easy. Three choices: vanilla (check), chocolate (check) and chocolate gelato with a chocolate-covered pretzel in porter (Huh? Porter, as in beer? Yup.) My curiosity was rewarded with a tasty dessert. The hand made gelato was smooth and the little porter-basted-pretzel was discovered hiding in the scoops. I cannot imagine how those three ingredients originally met, but it was a pleasant treat.
Handcrafted gelatos with a sprig of mint: there was a little pretzel surprise in the chocolate gelato.
As a new member of the Dine Downtown Restaurant Week, Kupros Bistro should perform well with the veterans. Tokuhama has assembled a combination of feasts. His renovation of the building is a masterpiece and the maturing menu behind Chef Robinson adds up to a sure winner.
Executive Chef Matthew Robinson
Dine Downtown Restaurant Week is sponsored by the Downtown Sacramento Partnership and runs through January 16. During the event, 30 restaurants are offering a special three-course dinner menu for $30 per person. For a complete list of participating restaurants and other information, check out the Downtown Sacramento Partnership website.
Photos by Ron Nabity