Only a few things are better than a great steak and a fabulous glass of red. I have been to many of the best restaurants in the world, but some of the most satisfying gastronomic experiences have been a simple grilled piece of meat and a glass of red. In fact, years ago, I had the “tough” assignment with my colleague, Thomas Matthews, to review all the three-starred Michelin restaurants in France, in 21 days, no less. We were dying for a simple steak and fries at the end.
I was thinking about this last night as writer/director (and more importantly, friend) James Orr and I dined with some entertainment people at Wolfgang Puck’s Cut. This is one of the hardest tables to get in Los Angeles at the moment, but I think that it’s because people want to be seen there instead of the excellent quality of the food. The wine service with sommelier Dana Farmer is also superb.
Cut is designer gastronomy with substance in a minimalist sort of way. It’s not a place to take salad-eating, nondrinking, emaciated blonde models, or wannabe actresses who are starving themselves. This is a red meat and red wine stop for people who enjoy refined yet real and hearty food.
We had a couple of starters with a bottle Orr brought, a 2002 Marcassin Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast Marcassin Vineyard. The best was the tiny Wagyu beef burgers that you just popped in your mouth in one biteful. The Marcassin was wonderfully, fruity and fresh with fabulous aromas of strawberries and flowers and a full, round and silky texture. It showed a wonderful balance. 95 points, non-blind.
I don’t remember a Marcassin Pinot as balanced and fruity as this one. It was not at all jammy or overblown.
(Thinking ahead to upcoming releases, I had a few 2004 Pinots from California with James Laube last week and it seems to me that the 2004 vintage is an excellent one, producing wines with beautiful aromas and focused, harmonious fruit. But it’s hard to generalize with my limited tasting experience of California Pinots from 2004. I know Laube is on the same wavelength, so I look forward to his forthcoming tasting notes.)
We all moved on to steaks. Before we ordered, someone from the kitchen sent out two uncooked slabs of American Wagyu/Angus “Kobe style” beef and two slabs of Japanese Wagyu beef from the Kagoshima region. The Japanese beef had much more marble than the American, which was apparently from a hybrid cow, half American Angus and half Kobe.
I went for the American Wagyu, a small 8-ounce sirloin. It was still $70. I was excited to compare this to what I had consumed in large quantities in Tokyo before Christmas with some Hong Kong friends. Eating Japanese beef, especially Kobe, is like eating pure butter or foie gras. It literally melts in your mouth and tastes decadent, buttery and meaty. The flavor is better than the texture for me. I recently wrote that comparing Japanese Kobe to American is like comparing butter to margarine.
Well, I was wrong on that! The American Wagyu was delicious. Maybe Wolfgang is sourcing really good beef, better than I have had in the past, but the sirloin I had was fabulous. It was like a super American sirloin with all the meaty, firm texture and flavor you can expect with a coating of buttery, opulent almost foie gras-like character of Kobe. Throw in some creamed spinach and fries and we were in gastronomic nirvana.
We cut through the steaks with a bottle of 2003 Château La Grave à Pomerol, which was a perfect foil to the meat. It cleansed the palate with subtle yet rich berry and violet aromas and flavors and ultrasilky tannins. 92 points, as I scored it in the magazine.
I could eat almost every night at Cut, if I could afford it. It was simple but so, so good. Also, I am not sure my cholesterol and heart could take daily doses of Cut. In fact, I am off to the gym now, and maybe a double dose of Lipitor is a good idea?
Hap Phinney — New York, NY — January 24, 2007 4:05pm ET
James Suckling — — January 24, 2007 5:26pm ET
Christian Janssen — Lawrenceburg, TN — January 24, 2007 6:21pm ET
Jason Thompson — Foster City, CA — January 24, 2007 6:51pm ET
James Suckling — — January 24, 2007 7:05pm ET
Troy Peterson — Burbank, CA — January 24, 2007 7:20pm ET
James Suckling — — January 24, 2007 7:34pm ET
Bryan Evans — New Orleans, LA — January 24, 2007 8:22pm ET
Jason Thompson — Foster City, CA — January 24, 2007 9:33pm ET
James Suckling — — January 24, 2007 9:43pm ET
Karl Mark — Geneva, IL. — January 25, 2007 12:17am ET
Andrew Weber — Pasadena, CA — January 25, 2007 1:20am ET
Jennifer Awbrey — Austin, Tx — January 25, 2007 3:02am ET
John Poggemeyer — Cleveland, OH — January 25, 2007 9:25am ET
Jason Thompson — Foster City, CA — January 25, 2007 11:34am ET
Arnaud Tronche — Chicago — January 25, 2007 11:40am ET
Thomas Stolzer — San Diego, CA — January 25, 2007 11:41am ET
Dan Jaworek — Chicago — January 25, 2007 1:59pm ET
Robert L Schmitt — Encinitas,CA USA — January 25, 2007 4:27pm ET
Jason Thompson — Foster City, CA — January 25, 2007 4:53pm ET
John Poggemeyer — Cleveland, OH — January 27, 2007 8:38am ET
Kristof Weymeis — Belgium — January 31, 2007 6:45am ET
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