The Distinguished Gourmand: CUT
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Some of you may already know this because you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, but I celebrated my 28th birthday yesterday. Well, more accurately, I celebrated my birthday this past weekend. It felt like a three- or four-day-long party in my honor. On Friday night I went out for dinner with friends. We followed that up by drinking and dancing at a local bar in the company of more friends. On Saturday I had my official “birthday party” at an Irish Pub in Hollywood. A remarkable number of people showed up, and I’m pretty sure each one of them bought me a drink because I don’t remember what happened between the hours of 11pm and 4am. My memory kicks back in around the time I realized I was playing beer pong at some friends’ house. Good times. Last night for my birthday dinner I invited my friend Louise to dine with me at CUT, the steakhouse in the Beverly Wilshire hotel. It’s regarded as one of the top steakhouses in all of Los Angeles. I told Louise money was no object, we were going to spare no expense. And it was the most amazing birthday dinner I’ve ever had in my entire life.
We arrived at the hotel promptly at 8:30pm and were seated immediately. Louise in her short skirt immediately noticed sideways glances from women at nearby tables, and we giddily joked about how out of place we must have looked. I didn’t see another diner in our age range anywhere inside CUT, but that was of little concern. We were there to eat like royalty and have a good time. Our waiter William introduced himself and graciously showed us the different cuts of steak on CUT’s menu in order to help us decide what we wanted to order. Louise admitted to being a bit of a novice when it came to different cuts, their fat/lean ratios and the flavor profiles, so William explained it perfectly for her. In the meantime, we munched on skinny bread sticks, cheese bread and pretzel bread. We ordered two glasses of red wine (mine was the Hall Merlot, I don’t remember what she had. Bridesmaid?) and our appetizers.
We started with Maryland Blue Crab & Louisiana Shrimp “Louis” Cocktail and Spicy Tomato Horseradish. The flavors were so fresh and bright. I would describe it as an Americanized ceviche, and the spicy tomato horseradish added a brilliant kick to the delicate and sweet crab and shrimp.
The most exciting option on the menu for me was the Bone Marrow Flan, Mushroom Marmalade and Parsley Salad. It was served with perfectly carved toasted brioche triangles. I can’t describe the flavor of spreading the marrow and the marmalade on the brioche other than to say it was one of the most decadently rich, delicious food item I have ever tasted. When Louise admitted she was saving room for her entree I dove into the second bone and greedily scraped it clean. Oh man, you can tell how excited I was for that by the fact that I couldn’t even be bothered to take a sharper picture of the plate before I started eating.
Louise chose for her entree a Petite Cut New York 10oz. steak (USDA PRIME Nebraska Corn Fed, Dry Aged 35 days). She ordered it medium plus (between medium and medium well) and said it was cooked perfectly. I tried a little piece and it was really, really good. We split two side dishes, an order of sauteed baby spinach with garlic and an order of roasted potatoes with onions and bacon. The spinach was fine, but the potatoes were dynamite. The bacon was cut so thick that it was the same size as the potatoes, and whenever a nugget of pork hit my mouth the smoky bacon was incredible.
Louise, by the way, was the ultimate dining partner. We usually only interact at parties or at bars, so to actually sit down and share life stories for a few hours was as informative as it was hilarious. She also gave me some gifts, including a bottle of Ballast Point Sculpin IPA (how did she know!?), a Madlibs, and a nice birthday card. She’s awesome. Her presence made my birthday that much better.
For a while I couldn’t figure out what I wanted for my entree, and then I asked William for advice. Actually, I didn’t so much ask him for advice as I said, “It’s my birthday — I should do the tasting of New York Sirloin shouldn’t I?” and he excitedly agreed. Most expensive item on the menu be damned. I ordered it. The plate arrived featuring American “Kobe Style” from Snake River Farms, USDA PRIME Dry-Aged from Nebreska, and Japanese/Australian Wagyu from David Blackmore Ranch. The Snake River “Kobe” was just a hair overcooked (I requested medium rare) but the other two steaks were perfect. The “Kobe” had an incredible crust to it. It’s a mix of two breeds (Japanese Wagyu and American Angus) so it had more marbling and was fattier and juicier than your standard Angus beef. The Nebreaska Dry Aged was slightly better I thought. Again, the outer char was flawless, and the meat was a little more buttery than the “Kobe style.” The Australian Wagyu was the best, though. As soon as I cut into it and saw the marbling I knew I was in for a treat. It was the most succulent, buttery piece of meat I have ever consumed. Just outstanding and memorable.
After we finished our entrees Louise and I ordered more wine. William and I began discussing music and Los Angeles. He talked about some of the famous clients he’s served recently (former presidents, rock stars, etc.) and how he sees those experiences as opportunities to interact with folks on a different level than they’re normally used to. He was super down-to-earth and affable. He even took down the name and address of the record store and said he’d visit. When he found out it was my birthday he pretty much demanded that we order dessert despite Louise and I both feeling full. I relented and ordered the mixed berry and ice cream crumble, and a few minutes later it appeared. There was a lone red candle lit inside the bowl, and “Happy Birthday” was spelled out in some edible chocolately cursive font. It was the ideal way to cap what will go down as one of my favorite birthdays ever.
And then William handed me the bill. No comment.
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