I’ve got Wolfgang Puck in my kitchen, gesturing at a cup of coffee like it just won an Oscar. Granted, he’s a photo on my microwave, but still: I like this man.
His Mayfair restaurant CUT (shouted at you, caps locked) is all about meat. It is also about celebrities, convivial surroundings and gentle food innovation – everything we’ve come to expect from the man who glamourised pizza at Spago in 1982.
Although he went global when he started selling high-style cookware and other foodie accoutrements on QVC (I’m not being chippy: even I couldn’t resist his 14-piece bowls-with-lids set for fifty measly bucks), this UK outpost of the CUT empire is the first Puck in Europe. Three years after its launch, it’s settled into its beefy stride.
Steak, I know and like. But because Wolfgang is a master re-imaginer, CUT is extremely non-American steakhouse. In America, steak is always some muscular animal of the plains. It may be hearty, heavy, manly and bloody, but it is never fancy or foreign. (I’m not talking tartare, mind.). I’ve been to Wagyu and Kobe steakhouses in Thailand and Australia and even at the highest end, the meat is never presented as it is here, as dainty pieces stacked high on one another and covered with a napkin. The cuts here all have names. This is steak treated like a pet.
By evening CUT is, thanks to Thierry Despont’s contemporary design, hella dark. I like darkness. It delays the need for a facelift by just one more day. But it does make it difficult to see the foods’ colours and textures. So, the image I’m left with is of a very polite waiter murmuring at me over a pile of steaks that resembled a halved human torso.
I like darkness. It delays the need for a facelift by just one more day
Steaks from all nations – America, Britain, Australia – were on offer, along with various sauces and sides. Baby artichoke salad was wonderful, piquant with feta and peppers. Dorset crab & lobster “Louis” was fresh enough to make me forego that spicy horseradish sauce. With the 8oz rib eye Wagyu steak, you can taste it’s from Oz, provided you haven’t wine-sullied your pallet. The Petit Cut Filet Mignon (£34) came with marrowbone looking like sliced bananas. Pan-roasted Scottish lobster in a black truffle emulsion was full-on.
CUT is a new twist on an old thing – which is precisely what Puck has been doing for his entire career. The prices can be eye-wateringly high, but this is a place to show off. It’s a restaurant for people to take their families for significant dinners, dates they want to impress, business associates they wish to win over, and perhaps, given the ambience, people they think they shouldn’t be seen with. C
CUT, 45 Park Lane, London W1
020-7493 4554; 45parklane.com