CUT on Valentine’s Day

By Tony Valenzuela

My husband, Rob, and I celebrated our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple at Wolfgang Puck’s Cut, the celebrity chef’s signature LA steakhouse, located in the storied Beverly Wilshire Hotel. Already showered with accolades since its opening in June 2006, including “restaurant of the year” in Esquire magazine, I’d made our reservation a month early to secure our table for 2 at 8 pm – or so I thought. When I called the week before to confirm, there was no record of it.

My conversation with Patty, the maitre d’, went something like this: In attempting to explain, I am quickly interrupted by Patty who takes a curt tone. “We didn’t start taking Valentine’s reservations until the 16th. You would not have a reservation unless you returned the pre-pay form.” I reply, calmly, “But I made our reservation with the hostess on the 14th and was never offered a form …” Patty, confrontationally, “I am not getting into a confrontation with you.” I come back with, “But I …” Dismissively, Patty says, “I’m going to get off the phone now. Will have to see what I can do and call you back.”

Astonished, I hung up. I felt like Pretty Woman ignored by the Rodeo Drive shopkeeper (DD's note: good reference Tony, same hotel as in the movie too). Does Cut consider itself recession proof? Was it that I’m not a celebrity that the maitre d’ wouldn’t even entertain the possibility that this may have been their error? Not to be mistaken as conciliatory, Patty called later that evening to give us 9 pm.

Let me jump ahead of this unpleasantness to discuss the food, much of which was excellent, and ultimately a good reason you may choose to pay the steep prices at Cut. The five-course Valentine’s Day menu was priced at $120 per person and started with a nice amuse bouche of mini potato-parmesan knishes. As an appetizer, Rob ordered the maple glazed pork belly that was savory sweet and tender as butter. My Maine diver scallop gratin with black truffles was sublime. I could have eaten two dozen and happily forfeited the rest of the meal. The sides included creamed spinach topped with a fried egg, tempura onion rings, a delicious soft polenta with parmesan and a sauté of vegetables. The courses were spaced appropriately and delivered with attentive and professional skill by our server, Jennifer.

The main event at Cut is the steak, of course. The restaurant chars their meat, which is not my preference, but it does keep the juices inside. Rob’s 20-ounce rib eye and my 10-ounce sirloin were very good, but not great. As we were enjoying our meal which was by most accounts exceptional, I could not shake the feeling that some customers at Cut are not as valued as some others, and here’s why.

When we were finally seated at a quarter past nine, we weren’t placed in the dining room exactly but in a landing leading to it. Four provisional tables had been set up to accommodate the overflow. Our table was the first of these nearest the entrance jutted up against the corner wall. Rob’s view was of the open kitchen and mine was 6 inches behind Rob’s head: a fire extinguisher, an “A” grade, a hazardous materials notice and an unused elevator. The award-winning design of the dining room by the Getty Center’s celebrity architect, Richard Meier, was lost on us completely.

Rob called the manager. To his credit, Andrey Godzhik listened with grace and modesty and in the end comped our $98 bottle of Phelps Cabernet, a considerable gesture of good will. But the insult to injury of our table sadly marred the restaurant’s evident strengths and though Rob’s dark chocolate soufflé and my warm brioche doughnuts were heavenly, our Valentine’s Day dinner at Cut will probably be remembered by an ungracious maitre d’, a lousy table and the rest of the staff that did its best to make up for it.


The Regent Beverly Wilshire

9500 Wilshire Blvd.

Beverly Hills

(310) 276-8500

Posted by The Dining Duo | 7:04 PM | , , , , | 0 comments »

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