Monday, March 23, 2009

Wolfgang Puck's CUT the very next day, after Spago

As if it were not enough, I had plans the very next day after the Spago dinner to go to Wolfgang Puck's CUT Restaurant in Beverly Hills. I was enjoying a couple of days of sheer indulgence.

It was not my restaurant pick per se, as I don't tend to pick steakhouses for dinner, but our friend Derek was in town, and he had chosen this restaurant, and invited another friend, so there we were headed. If it had been my choice, I think I would have chosen one of the high end sushi places, such as Urasawa or Sushi Zo to indulge in, given my rich dinner the night before, and my series of rich meals that I had enjoyed both in Canada and in Germany as of late.

When 8:30 pm rolled around, we were ready. The service at the front desk of Cut was courteous and expedient. The roar of voices coming from the starkly modern room gave an exciting aura of anticipation. This restaurant that has been around on the scene for what feels like an awfully long time was still holding on to that exciting, exhilarating new restaurant feel about it, which I found impressive. It felt like going to a movie opening, or a party, or a gallery opening.
When we were shown to our table, I had a chance to say hi to the sommelier.
Shortly after being seated, we ordered the 1994 Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spatlese, a blatant show of German Riesling appreciation. That's what is in our glass in the picture above, which we had with our appetizers. Needless to say, it was an awesome aged Mosel Riesling!
The waiter was a charming, funny gent who deftly explained to us all the steak options that we had. They specialized in Kobe beef, which was flown in from Japan, a very fatty breed. They also had good old American beef which for them was the Angus. And they had a hybrid, which was American Wagyu, a cross between the American Angus and the Japanese Kobe beef, which gave the rich fatty marbling found in Japanese Wagyu along with the beef rich flavor of American Angus.
He also recommended the New York tasting plate, which gave a 4 oz serving of Angus, a 4 oz serving of American Wagyu, and a 2 oz serving of Kobe.
So armed with that knowledge, we ordered our appetizers.
For me, though it did not seem wise to order fatty pork to preceed fatty beef, I went for the Asian spiced and cured pork belly. I dunno, I think I wanted to taste it with the German Riesling.
Beautifully presented, the pork belly was delicious, but rather rich. It would have been smarter to order a salad, a soup, or a seafood appetizer of some kind. But I do believe the appetizers were not really light in any way.
Johan ordered one of his favorite dishes - steak tartare - minced raw beef served with a quail egg and various fine condiments. I had a taste of it - it was sublime.
Derek's friend ordered what appeared to be a Caprese salad, but in looking at the picture, it looks like burrata cheese, proscuitto, and greens, which I'm not sure is a real Caprese salad. Looks great though.

Now, onto the steaks.
The guys all ordered the NY steak sampler, which I mentioned above. This is a 3-way sampler of New Yorks featuring Angus, American Wagyu, and Kobe. This is a like a wine tasting flight of all Pinot Noirs, but a California Pinot, an Oregon Pinot, and a Burgundy. It seemed very cerebral. It was also $135.
On the side are some mushrooms, which was ordered as a side dish, for sharing.
I was the only one who did something different. I ordered an American Wagyu rib-eye steak, as rib-eye has been my favorite steak cut for some time. I ended up with a 16 oz rib-eye at a fraction of the price of the NY sampler - $66.

I actually loved my steak. It was so lovely in its char on the outside, fantastically crispy, though a bit rich in fat on the outside as though melted butter were smothering it. Though hey at the time, I didn't complain! Inside, the meat was tender and juicy and full of rich fat and rich beefy flavor. I think I chose right when it came to the American Wagyu - it was the best of both worlds, beef fusion at its zenith.

I did have a taste of Johan's Kobe, and it was melt-in-your-mouth good, but at the same time, I think it caters to an Asian concept of beef, which is a much milder concept of beef, ie. not so beefy in its flavor nor its texture - it is almost like ingesting sausage at some level with its rich, rich, RICH fat marbling. I have had this thought about Kobe before - it is over-the-top fat in its marbled structure, and is almost too fatty, if that is possible. I almost feel that beef shouldn't be that marbled, that it is almost like pork when it is like that. And when you couple in the cost of Kobe, it makes me feel like I'd rather have good ol' fashioned American beef, and if could be aged a few days or weeks, all the better.

We washed the great meat down with a 2001 Barbaresco from a producer I could not remember the name of. The wine had grippy tannins and a delicate body, and was a good pairing with the rich meat we were consuming.

I couldn't finish my steak, though I made a good effort. I got through half of it (hey, that's 8 oz!), and the guys did a noble effort and finished their 10 oz of New Yorks. After that, we shared a couple of desserts that I'm sure were excellent, but I don't recall much of, as I didn't have much of a palate left.

For some good ol'fashioned fun, Wolfgang Puck happened to be making the rounds in the room, and as I saw him the day before, I made a point of telling him so, and he said I sure knew where to eat! He did some posing with the guys, and unfortunately, I didn't point the camera well enough here to catch everyone in the picture, but here you have it.......

A great time was had by all. This is a very fun and exciting restaurant to go to. It is somewhat loud and rambunctious and full of partying and group energy - I would not really go for a romantic dinner for two.... it is more of a group event, a chance to go out and hit the town and be in the moment with one of the best marketing geniuses in Los Angeles culinary history. The food is above par but is steakhouse food, so if steaks don't excite you, then don't go. If they are one of your favorite foods, then indeed make this one of your top spots to visit. The service is attentive at the same time casual, which makes it relaxing and non-demanding, which I like. All in all, the experience is positive, the food is rich, and the vibe is still very happening.

1 comment:

Samantha Dugan said...

Looks like you have been living it up there sister! I have been wanting to go to CUT for months now, your post is making that desire even worse! Gotta tell you I'm with you on the American beef, I dig the texture and beefy flavor.

Great pictures and how cool that Wolfgang was there for the photo op?! Very cool lady.