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