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CUT at the Beverly Wilshire - A bit of a letdown [LONG-ISH REVIEW]

Hi all,

Either I'm becoming a Chow Grouch or I am going through a funk of suboptimal dining lately....

The corporate account was kind enough to allow us to splurge at CUT. We were fortunate enough to get a 7PM reservation (there was a cancellation) for our party of 6. It was our first time there. Before going, I did my homework, checked out the Chow board, and looked (& salivated) at Perceptor's review & photos. My experience is as follows:

Seating: I was well aware that the seating policy at CUT was quite strict. All members of the party must be present before seating can even be considered. Tables are held for only 15 minutes beyond reservation time. The dining room was almost full when we showed up promptly at 6:55PM. I noticed P.Diddy was walking around, with entourage trailing. All 6 of us were on time and seated at 7:10PM without delay. (N.B.: Valet Parking at CUT is $15 with validation)

Service: Attentive, crisp, but SLOW! We were given plenty of time to peruse the menu and order beverages. PLENTY of time. The server scored points by recommending a nice pinot noir (Breggo 2006, $75) - Very nice. Big nose.

Bread: Mrs. J.L. loves cheese bread - she said the version at CUT was 7 out of 10 (for reference, she gave the pao de queijo at Fogo de Chao a perfect 10). The focaccia was decent.

Appetizers: LOVED the bone marrow flan. The Maine lobster & crab "Louis" cocktail was so-so. The maple glazed pork belly was very tasty, but way too huge a portion to be an appetizer (we took most of it home).

And now for the steaks:

The presentation of raw meat was nice. The marbling of the Japanese cuts was impressive, especially when compared side-by-side with the American wagyu. Mrs. J.L. chose the Japanese rib eye, medium rare ($160). I ordered the "Tasting of NY sirloin" (a 2 Oz. Japanese from Saga Prefecture, a 4 Oz. American Wagyu from Snake River Farms, & a dry-aged USDA prime from Nebraska) for $130. For $35 extra, I chose to top my steaks with Italian summer truffle (which was a mistake, since the truffles were quite dull and did not add to the taste at all).

The steaks came about 45 minutes(!!!) after they took our plates from the finished appetizers. I didn't push the issue, since our group was having a nice time chatting anyways.

Mrs. J.L. likes her steaks medium-rare, and ordered it so. Her $160 steak came medium-WELL - a big gaff on the kitchen's part. My steaks were also medium-well (which was OK with me). I did indeed enjoy the Japanese steak the best, by far. It was juicy and very fatty. Mmmmm... The truffle topping was generous, but the taste was weak. I won't be ordering those truffles anytime in the future. Also, for those who like their steaks a bit on the "red" side, I warn future CUT-goers to remind their servers to "keep an eye" on the rare-ness of their steak. I have a suspicion that our steaks were neglected and overcooked.

Sauces: Lots to choose from. Bottom Line: Try your steak with their Peppercorn sauce. Definitely.

Sides: Small portions, but well-executed. Each was served "family-style" by the servers. Carmelized summer corn was good (but Houston's corn is better). Creamed spinach with fried egg was OK, but nothing to write home about. Wild field mushrooms with Japanese shishito was by far my favorite of the sides we picked.

Desserts: We shared 4 desserts: Strawberry Baked Alaska, creme brulee "baby banana" cream pie, Vahlrona dark chocolate souffle, and a pear&raspberry almond crumble. The souffle was very fresh and tasty, but my favorite had to be the Baked Alaska - a tough dish to pull off, but very well executed by the pastry chef. Bravo! Coffee & coffee service were flawless.

Ambiance: CUT is indeed quite a scene. Bentleys & Rolls-Royces galore pulling up. Sadly, I feel that the food takes a backseat to the scene. Noise level was high, with Bruce Springsteen blaring from loudspeakers (?!)...

Overall, I felt CUT was just not the food-intensive experience S. Irene Virbila made it out to be. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy my Japanese steak immensely, but for the price, the experience should have been more comprehensively excellent. Maybe the restaurant's focus has changed since its glowing review in the LA Times many moons ago.

Luckily, the corporate card absorbed all the damages. Mastro's retains the tile of "King of SoCal Steakhouses" in my book. BUT I've yet to try Wolfgang's...

...maybe my luck with chow will improve....

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  1. A fine and fair review. Overall your food sounded pretty good. I would have sent back an over done steak (especially at the prices CUT charges) without any compunction at all. The waiter deserved all the kudos just for recommending a $75 bottle of wine that you ended up liking a lot. I too love the bone marrow flan. Very creative dish. Going to have to go again just to try the Baked Alaska.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Servorg

      Baked Alaska is so easy to make that a 12-year old can do it. Which is why it was taught in our 7th grade home economics class.

      Overcooking a $160 steak is obscene. Did the server tell you how they defined "medium rare"? I know there are different definitions, but it sounds like this is a pattern here.

      Thanks for the warning.

    2. Hi J.L.,

      Nice review, thanks for the report. I haven't made it to CUT yet and was planning to when I felt in the mood for a big steak again, but I'll be taking your experience into account. Your 45 minute wait just for the steaks is unfortunate, as is the overcooked steak.

      Did you end up trying the Japanese Wagyu Rib-Eye, or how did your wife rate it?

      4 Replies
      1. re: exilekiss

        Funny, I just talked about CUT with my japanese manager yesterday.

        She enjoyed the american wagyu more than the japanese kobe; thought the kobe should be left for shabu or tsukiyaki(i think that's what she said) where it benefited from the ridiculous marbling in the meat

        basically the kobe was so gelatenous that it was not really enjoyable (in steak form)

        This is pretty much the consensus I got from friends who have had it too. Good to have a little bit of, not too much.

        1. re: ns1

          I have never understood the appeal of Kobe in steak form.

          The heavy marbling of Kobe best lends itself to be enjoyed in small quantities (i.e. sliced thinly in shabu shabu as you mentioned above).

          It's sort of like I wouldn't want a Big Gulp serving size of a nice 15 year old McCallen -- best enjoyed in small quanities, neat.

        2. re: exilekiss

          Having tried the real stuff before from Japan, Mrs. J.L. thought the 8 oz. Japanese steak at CUT was a 7 out of 10 (she said the starting material was a 9/10, but the error from the kitchen made it a 7/10). Since we were dining with our business colleagues (and also on an expense acct.), we decided to be gracious and not make a scene or a fuss about the overdone steak.

          Mind you... If it was on our dime, that steak was most likely going back to the kitchen.

          Actually, even before going to CUT, we fully planned on only eating a bit of that Saga Prefecture steak at the restaurant... The rest (about 5 oz. out of our 8 oz. steak) went home with us. We saved the gristle to grease our wok at home tonight, and made some killer steak-fried rice!!!

          1. re: J.L.

            Thanks J.L.

            Re: Leftovers. Now that's very nice! I can only imagine that being the best-tasting, most-expensive homemade Fried Rice since Iron Chef had the Bird's Nest Fried Rice. (^_~)

        3. Sounds like my experience. Definitely an expense account restaurant.

          I'm a little baffled by this trend of cranking classic 70's rock at restaurants - first encountered it at Babbo in NYC - now it's widespread. Problem is that if I'm not a fan of music it's annoying, and if I like it I want to listen and not talk to my dining companions!

          1. Appreciate your comments since I'm trying to decide on a restaurant for a special occasion. I'm wondering how it compares to Craft both food and experience-wise. I've looked at both menus. Cut strikes me as a bit more traditional than Craft. Opinions out there? (I've also heard good things about Mastro's, but for now am interested specifically in Cut vs. Craft.)

            1. Thanks for the review. I was planning on going since I love a GOOD steak. Not one that is overdone and over priced.Why didn't you send the steaks back and tell them to do them correctly? Why should you pay for something you didn't order? These high end steak houses are too full of themselves. I'll pass. I'm going to hit up Costco for a couple of their prime rib eyes. Heat up the grill, about 4 min per side for perfect, open a bottle of cab and give my dog Baron the leftovers. He's a real chowhound!

              1 Reply
              1. re: Baron

                i think that save Urasawa, I've never seen a restaurant get 100% positive reviews.

              2. I do love Cut, but have had my steak slightly overcooked a couple of times. I now order it "quite rare", which is not a scientific term, it's just an inflection by which I am hoping to communicate something. I actually think they cook their steaks a little more well than most other serious steakhouses, which is odd. My favorite by far is the 35 day aged Nebraska NY. (I agree with above kobe comments.) Love the asparagus I've had there (in two forms) and a Brussels sprouts with bacon dish was outstanding. BTW if want to check out my homage to Cut: http://www.eatdrinkordie.com/blog/pos...

                1. Our experience was similar. No expense account here!. One person in our party sent her steak back TWICE (justifiably) and it still was not right. She ended up waiting - and waiting, dining on the sides. They eventually took it off the tab. That was unfortunate because dining out at a place THAT extravegant was a big deal. Maybe the fact that Tom Cruise. and wife Katy were dining at a nearby table was distracting the staff. Funny, I didn't notice THEIR steaks returning to the kitchen.
                  Sassille

                  1. I also had a pretty disappointing experience at Cut. I thought their appetizers were much better than the steak. Such a shame that they don't' know how to properly cook steak with such fine pieces of meat. Unfortunately for me, I was not on an expense account. Unless the meal is free, i won't be going back.

                    1. We had a very similar experience, though unfortunately on our own dime and not a corporate account:

                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/5345...

                      Won't be returning anytime soon.

                      1. I was at CUT a few weeks back and had another great experience there (though not as great as the previous time).

                        Regarding the temperature of the steaks, we had the wet-aged NY, dry-aged NY, American Wagyu NY, Japanese NY, and Japanese filet, all ordered medium rare. We all thought that the steaks were cooked just right. Maybe CUT cooks the meat longer than typical, but it's never been a problem for us. I have photos of all the cuts in the link below; do they look to be past medium rare?

                        Photos: http://www.kevineats.com/2008/08/cut-...

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: kevin h

                          BTW kevin h, is Cut your favorite place to eat Kobe in L.A.?

                          1. re: la tache burger

                            Yup. Are there any other places that are recommended?

                            1. re: kevin h

                              Nobu-san used to have some secret (and I suspect illicitly imported) beef from Japan for the "private room" diners at Matsuhisa. This was 2+ years ago. The marbling on that beef was something to behold. One must wonder how the cow escaped a myocardial infarction before the age of 1, given so much fat. That is still the best Japanese beef I've had to date in the U.S.

                              But nowadays, my vote goes to the crazy good beef at The Hump in Santa Monica (assuming it's available).

                              1. re: J.L.

                                thanks, good tips. Anyone else have opinions on this? best kobe, or Japanese Wagyu, or however is the best way to say it ...

                                1. re: J.L.

                                  Thanks for the tips. 2+ years ago was about the last time I was at Matsuhisa but I was far too ignorant at the time to have known about that beef.

                                  Does The Hump offer the beef in steak form?

                            2. re: kevin h

                              Your server got it right, ours (unfortunately) didn't....

                              1. re: J.L.

                                Gotta say that kevin's pics are pretty great -- yes, they do look like medium-rare.

                                I agree, whoever did the calculation, it would be more economical to order separate steaks and divide them than to purchase their sampler. But the sampler plate does have a place for the solo diner or someone who wants to compare while his/her companion orders something else.

                                J.L. -- You seem to be blaming the server for your cooked past requested meat. You did allege that your server may have been spending time elsewhere while your meat sat. Are the plates heated to the point where the meat will keep cooking even more than resting/residual cooking? Do you feel the server rather than the kitchen was at fault?

                                1. re: nosh

                                  Clarification: I am uncertain who is to blame, whether it be server or kitchen, but something was amiss.

                                  Again, I chose not to pursue the issue, as was congruent with the spirit of the evening and the occasion. The meal was not on my dime. The business we were discussing (the purpose of going to CUT in the first place) was way more important than a kitchen gaff.

                            3. Have people had problems with all the cuts being overdone, or is it just the wagyu? Because although I like my steaks nearly blue, you do have to cook the wagyu a bit longer so that the fat melts and is evenly distributed within the steak.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: dvsndvs

                                While I've tried Wagyu steak (although never at Cut), I can say that you don't really want rare Wagyu beef -- cold chunks of balled up fat just isn't very appetizing. This is probably my biggest pet peeve with using Wagyu as "steak".

                              2. 1. The best steakhouses are in NY! Bottomline!
                                2. Thats the sort of result/disapointment you get when you mix good intention with 'Gimmick'!
                                3. Who cares if 'D'iddy' was walking around.
                                4. 8 times out of 10, a restaurant with a so called 'scene' serves less than excellent food.
                                5. As a chef I know that all kitchens make mistakes and a Med-Rare /Med-Well guffaw happens, if it doesnt happen every night.
                                6 .Again, the best steakhouses are in NY! And the best ones in NY (Peter Luger,Old homestead,PALM)are less about scene and more about the Cut and Service.

                                6 Replies
                                1. re: CHEFARTIST

                                  1. May be true, but we're on the LOS ANGELES chowboard.
                                  2. Duh.
                                  3. Agree completely... And that's exactly why I reported that Diddy was walking around.
                                  4. Make that 9 times out of 10.
                                  5. As a customer, I'd say that's true too. But if a customer is paying $160 for a lone steak - that place better have a level of service and attention to detail commensurate with its hefty fees.
                                  6. Totally agree about Peter Luger. But again, we're not talkin' NY, are we??

                                  1. re: J.L.

                                    You should never argue with CHE the FARTIST! ;-D

                                    1. re: Servorg

                                      That was priceless, thanks for the laugh (yes I'm childish)

                                    2. re: J.L.

                                      Point taken J.L., thanks for your succinct rebuttals to all my insights. I enjoyed reading them.Heads up 'Peter Lugers' , here she comes.
                                      :)
                                      Take Care.
                                      Ciao

                                      1. re: J.L.

                                        Lol@ Those responses.
                                        Its CHEF ARTIST servog, haha..
                                        And forgive me, I may have had one too many 'after dinner' Grand Marnier's while posting this.
                                        :)
                                        MANGIA!

                                        1. re: CHEFARTIST

                                          Wolfgang at Beverly hills worth the try serious about steak and service.

                                    3. I, too, immediately thought, upon reading your post, that your wife should've sent her steak back in principle -- of course I have read through this entire thread and understand your perfectly logical reason not to.

                                      But this leads me to another question, as someone who does not know what goes on inside the kitchen. I'm the kind of person who hates wasting food of any kind, even below-average food, and especially if it's meat. It might be the Chinese in me, trained to scrape every single last grain of rice out of my bowl. But anyway, given my tendency to have these feelings, I would like to ask if anyone knows what actually would have happened to your wife's overdone steak had she sent it back.

                                      What I mean is, would it most likely have been thrown away? Because this is the kind of possibility that makes me tend not to send back food, barring some seriously *inedible* factor. I just really hate wasting food, and it kills me to think that restaurants throw this stuff away. I suppose they might be forced to for health regulations and stuff. Does anybody know for a fact?