Wolfgang Puck CUT
15 January 2012
Al Pacino and Robert de Nero hung out at Spagos (with its signature salmon and caviar piazza) and still hang out at The Cut at the Beverly Wilshire in Los Angeles. Wolfgang Puck, proprietor of these A List Haunts and external caterer to the Obama White House, has now opened a modern American steak house at the Dorchester Collection’s elite hotel, 45 Park Lane.
Name: Wolfgan Puck CUT
Nearest Tube: Marble Arch/ Hyde Park Corner
I am meeting my old friend and client, Mike Barrie of Legal and General, for breakfast. OK so we’re not Pacino and De Nero , but we are quite jolly, and I have an Italian cousin (twice removed). I am also running late. Mike is used to this. He texts me my “Longest Late Times”, as if I’m some kind of anti-athlete (which, even my wife will tell you, I am). Stumbling in apologetically, I see that the staff have risen to the occasion. Mike is being fussed over and has been given a coffee and The Times. The Cut’s service ethic has crossed the Atlantic with its concept-it’s as “impeccable” as their website promises.
The portion size and (as you’d expect) the style of food have also made the Atlantic crossing. Mike and I had both checked out the chunky menu on line the night before and had agreed that this had better be BRUNCH. We both start with Juice of the Day (melon, apple and carrot). Normally, I don’t see eye to eye with carrots-best place for them is in our guinea pigs’ bowl. But this juice is (I kid you not) subtle and refreshing. Impressed, Mike and I unsubtly order two more.
We also order mains. Some of these are a little daunting to the English Eye, as they are quite highly elaborated dishes that people on this side of the Pond might be more used to having for dinner. Although there are some echoes of the English country house breakfast, such as Jeeves might serve to cure a “late evening head”. The hot dishes are all hearty and luxuriant and should be followed by a trip to the Gym within 24 hours.
Mike orders Salt Beef Hash Cake, Poached Organic Eggs, Crispy Leeks and Sauce Bearnaise. I go for omelette with Chanterelle Mushrooms, Smoked Bacon, Gruyere and Roasted Fingerling potatoes. And now we are “In the Groove” and Side Order’s Law (SOL) kicks in. SOL is familiar to all curry house habitués: you always order two more dishes than you need, even if you don’t ask for them. Somehow they always come.
Our sides are: Sage & Black Pepper Pork Sausage for me (there are FOUR-count them); Black Pudding “Cassoulet” (Mike); and Crisp Desiree Potato Cake for me (I hear you exclaim, “You’ve already got potatoes with your omelette!”, but I’m already crunching on an excellent potato cake, so I don’t hear you).
Mike’s organic eggs are cooked perfectly and my omelette is similarly excellent. As omelettes are the only things that I can cook, I recognise an excellent one when I bite it, and this is as technically perfect as a Van Persie volley.
The salt beef is a nice London touch (it always makes me think of black cabs, mustard and gherkins) and Mike’s happy: it complements the poached eggs superbly. Mike’s only reservation is that the hash cakes have two quite rich sauces. It’s possible that early in the morning two sauces is one too many. Mike also finds his Black Pudding “Cassoulet” a little too elaborate for breakfast, like a diamante evening gown when all you need is a T-Shirt. But the excellence of the cooking and the exceptional quality of the ingredients is beyond doubt.
The pork sausages are quite splendidly peppery, but (to calm my wife and doctor), I only ate two of them (OK maybe three). As an old friend of mine used to say, “I don’t know how I’ve got the nerve”, but somehow we find it and try pieces of muffin, Raisin Danish and toast-as befits Wolfgang Puck’s Austrian heritage-they are all exceptionally well baked. Oh, and by the way, the coffee is excellent. Of course, you say. But, face it, really good coffee is as rare as a Man Utd fan in Manchester (but it is absolutely essential for breakfast, if I am going to live through the morning).
A word about dinner (even though we didn’t have it)I’ve got the menus and Cut looks like it will very soon be known for the best exclusive steaks in town: Rib eye from Creekstone farms, Arkansas, Australian Wagyu/Black Angus, Darling Downs, Filet Mignon from Casterbridge Farm, Devon; a list to fire any carnivore’s imagination.
The Cut also rejoices in grand, high ceilinged, art deco surroundings, with clean lines and muted, simple primary colours. Sorry, but I am a sucker for a Christmas tree. They have an elegant tree, with silver and purple baubles, next to a giant glowing art deco pillar-so I’m sold. The Cut is a welcome addition to the high end meat eating market; expect Jeremy Clarkson, Shane Warne, Liz Hurley and co. to relocate from the Wolseley and Cipriani very shortly. Mike and I gave the paparazzi the slip on the way out; expect Liz won’t.
Bruce Dear, partner, Eversheds