Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Un-frugal Foodie: Cut

Monday was my brother Brian's birthday so the family went out to dinner at Cut, Wolfgang Puck's steakhouse in the Palazzo. Everyone except my other brother Morgan had been there before, and this was Ian's and my fourth time. We were obsessed with the restaurant when it opened and had to stop ourselves from going numerous other times. The last time we went Ian orchestrated a better marriage proposal for me after we picked up my engagement ring next door, since I told him I wanted a story for the kids that was more exciting than the actual proposal. Needless to say, we were thrilled Brian picked Cut for his birthday dinner.

Bread is a big deal at cut, and you are given plenty of it before your meal. This is a bit illogical since the food you are about to be served is all pretty heavy, but the bread is very good so I'm not complaining. Well, maybe I'll complain just a little since it used to be better. They start you with skinny bread sticks engulfed in Parmesan lace, then offer a variety of three other kinds of bread. These were all as good as I remembered. The disappointment came when they brought us the gougeres. A gourgere is a savory choux pastry baked with cheese, usually gruyere. I had dreams of these ethereal bites of heaven after our previous visits, so I was quite disappointed they weren't nearly as mind-blowing as last time. We were given even more bread in the form of knish since Brian has "connections," which were served with whole grain mustard and were quite good. Mustards are something Cut excels at, and you are served a variety of four different kinds with your meal.

Since I've just written an entire paragraph on the bread, I will try not to make this review too long, but after sampling about fourteen items it will be difficult.

The warm asparagus and organic poached egg salad with bacon vinaigrette ($17) that my dad got was superb, and one of the highlights of the meal in my mind. It was served over a crispy and delicate crouton, which you can see in the photo above. I started with the heirloom apple salad ($16), which I've had before, and while it was also good, it too wasn't quite as I remembered. The high skill level involved in making this salad makes it appealing, however, as each of the apple matchsticks are cut to order (if you do this in advance and soak them in lemon water the apples lose all their flavor). Ian's warm veal toungue appetizer ($15) was great, but he felt it didn't compare to the last time either. Maybe we shouldn't have ordered items we already had the chance to try, but I find if you really like something this is a good way to test for consistency in a restaurant over time. The steaks were great, as expected (Maggie's bone-in ribeye being the best) but we honestly thought the steak we got from our butcher in Oregon was equal in quality, which made us wonder about paying around $65 dollars for one here. The sides that were exceptional were the cavatappi (corkscrew) pasta with quebec cheddar and the organic caramelized root vegetables, but at $21 for the 'mac n cheese' and $12 for the veggies they better be. We ended the meal with a beautifully decorated but ordinary vanilla and chocolate layered birthday cake, which was also comped. It was a good thing that it was because it would have been $98 otherwise. I'm not used to getting sticker shock at restaurants but in this case my immediate reaction was "Are you ******* kidding?" I guess they justify this because it did serve all seven of us, but who needs all that cake after a meal at Cut? Actually, I'm farily confident my brother and sister-in-law would argue with me about that, and you can't beat free, so the cake was fine. I would highly recommend it to anyone else who didn't have to pay for it.

My brother Morgan texted me his review from across the table, which I much enjoyed but have edited slightly on the advise of my mother. "Cut is like going to a highly recommended _________. While the service is solid, and nothing is wanting, you're left with a tinge of despair, as while you have no complaints about the experience, it can't quite measure up to what was conjured in the imagination. Oh, and the beer was great" (if you know my brother you can probably fill in the blank accurately). I can't relate to what he is referring to but if I could, I'm sure he hit the nail on the head.

Tonight's Food Rating: 8
Ambiance: 8.5

Knish with Mustard

Heirloom Apple Salad with fennel, red endive, mejool dates, Marcona almonds, and parmesan

Warm Veal Tongue Appetizer with marinated artichokes, shelling beans, and "salsa verde"

Aged New York Sirloin

Happy birthday Brian!


  1. Oh man, Wolf seems to be falling out of your graces lately!!

  2. He is hands down my favorite chef so I have very high expectations of him! Until recently he has excelled at having many different restaurants that perform equally well, but I can't say that his passion is translating into the food each dining establishment of late.