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Dinner at Cut -- ehh...

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Dinner at Cut -- ehh...

David Kahn | Sep 4, 2006 09:33 PM

This Saturday, the Missus and I (along with a favorite aunt and uncle) had the chance to try Cut (9500 Wilshire Blvd., at Rodeo, 310-276-8500, http://wolfgangpuck.com/rest/fine/cut/ ), Wolfgang's new steak place in the Regent Beverly Wilshire. The short version is that, for the most part, everything was okay, but it really didn't knock my socks off and I don't think I'll be in any rush to return.

Now the long version. Had a six o'clock reservation and were seated within ten minutes of arriving (on time). The space is, as others have remarked, very nice. Light, open, clean, and elegant. We were served bread sticks (which were okay), and one of my favorite items of the evening, a basket of little fresh cheese flavored popovers, hot from the oven. These were delicious; the best cheesy-poofs I've had, perhaps ever.

Our waiter, who was very funny and charming, came over and delivered menus and told us they didn't have the kurobuta pork chop (which the Missus, who doesn't eat beef, sort of had her heart set on). Then he disappeared for what seemed like an inordinately long time. I guess it gave us time to study the menu, but there were a couple of gaps like that in the service over the course of the evening, where we just seemed to sit there waiting for too long a time.

Anyway, while we're waiting to order, some other waiter comes by and shows off a cross section of several cuts of real live Japanese imported Kobe beef. I must be in the minority here, but I don't particularly like it at Arnie Morton's when they trot out the raw cuts of beef, and I didn't like it at Cut either. Plus, the Kobe beef looks more like fat marbled with beef than the other way around. Maybe it's great; we didn't try it, but it looks like it would be too rich/fatty for my taste. Fwiw, I think the waiter walking around the restaurant showing Kobe beef to people is just gimmicky; if it's really that good, you shouldn't have to show it to people; they should be able to taste it.

For appetizers, I ordered the heirloom tomato salad with goat cheese and white anchovies in what was, I think, a balsamic vinaigrette. The tomatoes were awesome, really at the peak of ripeness and cut nice and thick. Unfortunately, I thought anchovies didn't fit so well with the flavor of the tomatoes, and the vinaigrette was too sweet. This was okay, but the heirloom tomato salad at Lucques is unambiguously much better. The Missus ordered the butter lettuce with avocado and blue cheese salad. (From the number of these I saw leaving the kitchen, I would guess this is their most popular appetizer.) It was beautifully presented, and tasted pretty good. A nice salad, but again, nothing I'll remember a month from now.

For mains, I ordered their center of the menu dry aged 20 ounce bone-in prime New York strip, and the Missus got got the sea bass. (When she mentioned to the waiter that she had actually wanted the pork chop, he joked, "yeah, that's too bad, 'cause it's really good" which I thought, actually, was right on the edge of being in bad form.) We also ordered three sides for the table: french fries, creamed spinach, and caramelized sweet corn.

The steak was perfectly cooked, but was, frankly, just okay. It had a bit of gristle, and wasn't terribly hot when it was served. The flavor was good, but to tell the truth, I've had better steaks, for example, at Campanile, Mastro's, Josie, and even the Pacific Dining Car. In fact, for sheer deliciousness, a dry aged New York Strip from Harvey's Guss cooked over oak charcoal in my backyard unquestionably comes out ahead. The seabass was deboned at the table, and was nice, but again, nothing extraordinary.

As for the sides, the caramelized sweet corn was good, but very sweet. Still, it's a good idea, and was interesting. The creamed spinach was unremarkable, and, oddly, is served topped with a fried egg. The egg was a bit undercooked for my taste, which I really didn't like, but in the end it didn't matter so much, because the creamed spinach itself wasn't that great. Finally, the french fries were the biggest disappointment of the evening. I love (LOVE!) french fries, and I thought for sure Cut's rendition would be excellent. Wrong. Soggy, not crisp, not piping hot, and over-salted. Made me want to drag the responsible party out of the kitchen for a field trip to Josie, so they could see and taste what really good fries should be like.

After the plates were cleared, we got dessert menus, and had another of those odd lapses where we just sat there for an inordinately long time waiting for our order to be taken. Now that I think about it, both times that happened it was while we were waiting to order, so maybe our waiter just thought we were really slow readers. He was, other than this, an excellent waiter, and maybe this is just new restaurant bugs getting worked out.

The four of us shared a single dessert, on the waiter's recommendation, a black forest pudding cake with chocolate and bing cherry ice cream. Again, it was good, but not great. There are lots of better desserts out there, at the WaterGrill, Providence, and Josie, just to name a few. Coffee and tea were fine, and, for once, were served with dessert (as they should be).

Miscellaneous details: I had a glass of red wine with my dinner, and my uncle had a bar drink. Otherwise we drank sparkling water. Before the tip, the bill came to $350. Valet parking at the hotel is $10, with validation. Finally, a word about the scene at Cut. It seems to me that, at least for the moment, Cut is a place where movie stars, people who think they're movie stars, and people who want to be movie stars, go to have dinner. It has generally been my experience (and this was no exception) that this kind of scene doesn't co-exist very well with truly excellent food.

In sum, dinner at Cut was an expensive affair, where a couple of things were disappointing, but nothing was really bad or great. I think, for the money, there are better places to scratch your itch for high-end food.

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