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PUCK'S PLACE TRULY A CUT ABOVE.

Byline: Larry Lipson Restaurant Critic

If you are willing to part with a lot of money for a piece of splendid meat, Wolfgang Puck's new Cut restaurant could be your culinary paradise.

Call it the steak fancier's heaven in Beverly Hills.

Go for broke at $20 an ounce for a cut of the finest beef on the planet, the true Japanese 100 percent Wagyu beef from Kujisawa Prefecture, Kyushu, Japan.

If you're a steak nut without deep pockets, it may well be worth saving for this experience.

The kitchen rotates the cuts, so you could come in several nights in a row and clean out your bank account.

I've only tasted the filet mignon, and unquestionably it was the finest piece of steak I've ever eaten, as tender as beef can be without a hint of mushiness, moist and flavorful.

Now I'm getting mushy.

Cut -- a multimillion dollar project that transformed the original old-fashioned, tiered dining room into a zingy, still-tiered, mod facility featuring a glass-enclosed view kitchen, light wood furnishings (tables sans linen) and wonderfully comfortable wheelless, office-style chairs -- has Ari Rosenson as chef de cuisine and Darren McGraw as pastry chef.

But Puck is taking no chances, so on any given night during the current debut period you'll see his Spago executive chef Lee Hefter directing things in the Cut kitchen -- and nearby his Spago patissier, talented Sherry Yard, making sure Cut's desserts meet Spago standards.

If anyone says a steak is a steak is a steak, Cut quickly educates otherwise.

Order one of its USDA prime Nebraska, corn-fed, 35-day dry-aged steaks like the 8-ounce petite cut New York ($34), and you might notice a lack of juice. Some people like it that way.

If you like a juicier steak, a heftier 20-ounce, bone-in New York cut ($44) of USDA prime Illinois, corn-

fed beef, aged 21 days, gives you more juice but may not be quite as tender.

There also might be a variation in flavor according to the cut requested. Usually more marbling means more flavor.

But if you want ultra-richness in flavor, forget the steaks altogether here and opt for either the Bengali-style Kobe beef short ribs ($36) or the unusual oxtail and veal sweetbread pot pie ($32).

The short ribs, possibly the best version you'll ever eat, are slow-cooked for eight hours. They bring the piquant and peppery splendor of India's exotic curry spices, a fruity tomato chutney and the creamy yogurt qualities of raita together to form a rare harmony of meaty palate pleasures.

Twosome entrees like rotisserie duckling ($32 per person), roasted turbot ($39 per person) and an American Kobe 32-ounce porterhouse ($60 per person) are available.

But you can also enjoy a surf-and-turf dinner, as we did one night by sharing a steak entree and a perfectly cooked pan-roasted Maine lobster ($60 for a two-pounder).

There are numerous sides, sauces and other possible accompaniments to enhance each main course.

I like chimichurry, the tart Argentine dipping sauce, with any steak, and the creamed morels ($14) and bone marrow ($9) will also enrich whatever meaty entree item you choose.

As for starters, you might get lucky and receive some complimentary kitchen samplings as an amuse bouche, anything from mini cheese puffs to a daub or two of the house's nifty heirloom tomato and goat cheese salad.

Both the lobster and crab Louis-style mixture ($24) and prime sirloin steak tartare ($18) provide super cold refreshers on a warm summer evening. And if you want something that manages to be both rich and delicate, Cut's foie gras between Tunisian wafers with a date chutney ($22) will have you unashamedly licking your lips.

By now you may have noticed that an order of the more expensive starters may require home-refinancing consideration.

Share a cool dessert like peach melba with pistachio gelato ($14) and you can go home from Cut thoroughly satisfied.

And fractionally poorer.

Larry Lipson, (818) 713-3668

larry.lipson(at)dailynews.com

CUT BY WOLFGANG

Food: Four stars

Service: Three and one half stars

Wine: Three and one half stars

Where: Regent Beverly Wilshire, 9500 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills.

Phone: (310) 276-8500.

Meals/hours: Open for dinner from 5:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Food type: Steakhouse.

Cost: Starters from $14 to $24, entrees from $32 to $120, desserts $14.

Credit cards: All major.

Patio dining: No.

Parking/valet: Valet for this restaurant is separate from the regular hotel parking, although the dining room is in the main hotel building. Cut patrons pay $7 for valet parking.

Full bar: Yes.

Wine/Corkage: Extensive seven page list has 21 wines by the glass ($10 to $38) served in elegant, thin carafes. Most listed bottlings are well above $50, but there is an Argentine rose for $29, a Spanish white for $30, and a French cabernet franc from the Loire region for $35. The selection includes a fine representation of Bordeaux '82s, one of the last century's best vintages, including Chateau Pape Clement for $130. Corkage: $25.

Music/entertainment: Not at present.

Takeout/delivery: No on both.

Reservations: Absolutely necessary.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

The Porterhouse steak is quite delectable -- and pricey -- at Cut, the latest eatery under the Wolfgang Puck banner.

Tom Mendoza/Staff Photographer
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jul 7, 2006
Words:880
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