A review of Wolfgang Puck’s CUT at 45 Park Lane
Continuing our series of revisiting articles from the blog that preceded The Steeple Times, today we re-publish our review of CUT at 45 Park Lane. We’re delighted to report that it’s just as good today.
Wolfgang Puck once commented that he “learned more from the one restaurant that didn’t work than from all the ones that were successes.” With the opening of his new restaurant, CUT, at The Dorchester Collection’s newest hotel, 45 Park Lane, he certainly proves that he learnt well.
Now magnificently illuminated at night and featuring 24 metal panels by Thierry Despont, this narrow Park Lane building was unoccupied for 13 years until The Dorchester Collection creatively brought it back to life. The building has a fascinating history having been owned in the 1950s by one George Parkin Catchpole, a liquidator, who rented it out “for anything legal.” He is said to have told a group of artists named the Park Lane Group: “When I’m not using it, you can – and I won’t charge you” and they did. They set up a 150-seat theatre and the pianist John Ogdon and the Welsh soprano Dame Gwyneth Jones DBE performed there.
In the 1960s Catchpole sold the building and 45 Park Lane took on a new life as the Playboy Club. Run by Victor Lownes, the casino at the club became the most profitable in the world by 1981 but following a decision to revoke the club’s gambling licence and a row between Lownes and Hugh Hefner, the venue closed.
45 Park Lane is now well and truly back on the map of the international jet-set following this latest refurbishment. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt stayed in September and the opening party was itself attended by Philip Green and his daughter, Chloe, as well as Kate Moss, Jamie Hince, Matt Bellamy and Kate Hudson.
CUT itself is a stylish space that seats 70 guests that is managed by the most personable Loyd Loudy, formerly of the OXO Tower, Hakkasan, China Tang, Shoreditch House and Sartoria. This is a slickly run dining room that has art deco hints and is dominated by Damien Hirst artwork.
When I told a friend that I was going to CUT, he complained that the music there was a “horrible mixture” of 1970s and 1980s rock music chosen by Puck himself. My dining companion, a fan of such tunes as KC and The Sunshine Band’s Come To My Island, was delighted, however, by this prospect and only disappointed that his favourite tune didn’t get an outing. I was hoping for a rendition of the Strawbs’ Part of the Union in honour of, excuse the pun, those protesting about the government’s ongoing economic cuts, but I guess that would hardly have gone down well with the Mayfair hedgies and well heeled hotel guests who flock to this glamorous dining destination.
John Walsh, in his review of CUT for the Independent, describes Wolfgang Puck’s name as being “Mozart-meets-Shakespeare” and this culinary maestro is himself worthy of note. Austrian by birth, Puck began his career at Maxim’s in Paris, the Hotel de Paris in Monaco and the Michelin 3-starred L’Oustau de Baumanière in Provence. In the 1970s he moved to the United States and set up his first flagship restaurant, Spago, in 1982 on the Sunset Strip of West Hollywood. Spago became known for its signature dishes of haute cuisine pizzas topped with smoked salmon and caviar and awards galore and a burgeoning restaurant empire followed in the 1990s and 2000s with further openings in LA, Las Vegas and Singapore.
Puck has brought in David McIntyre as executive chef at CUT at 45 Park Lane. Part of his team in Los Angeles for the last 13 years, McIntyre’s career began at the Culinary Institute of America and progressed eventually to a “strong culinary partnership” with Puck first at Spago and then at CUT, Beverly Hills and WP24.
Puck and McIntyre offer a menu that most certainly couldn’t fail to please any meat lover. Though not designed for those on a budget, the focus here is on cuts of beef, be they from Casterbridge in Devon or Creekstone Farms in Arkansas City, Kansas, that are grilled over hard wood and charcoal then finished under a 650 degree broiler.
To start, I began with an Australian wagyū steak sashimi with spicy radishes and a Greek cress (£22). It was truly delicious and the envy of my companion who found his bigeye tuna tartar with wasabi ailoli, ginger, tōgarashi crisps and tosa sauce (£21) just as enjoyable. For those looking for a meatier option the Austrian oxtail bouillon (£9) certainly should appeal and vegetarians could definitely enjoy the roasted baby beetroot salad with goat cheese (£12).
For our main courses we naturally both chose to try out the cuts but those looking for something different could opt for a sautéed dover sole (£45) or a warm lobster club sandwich (£24). Both my 6oz filet mignon (£30) and my companion’s 35 day aged 10oz New York sirloin (£34) melted in the mouth and truly top my list for the best steak of the year. The accompanying Armagnac and green peppercorn sauce was a phenomenal choice and utterly perfect. Though slightly over salted, the French fries with herbs (£5.50) were pleasant and the tempura onion rings (also £5.50) could not be faulted.
To conclude, though somewhat conquered by the feast we’d just enjoyed, we moved on to a light banoffee pie and a delicious chocolate dish that tasted akin to a Kit-Kat with blackberries. Here ended a meal that was most certainly one of the best I’ve enjoyed in 2011.
The wine list is exactly what you’d expect to find in an establishment of this stature. Staring at £7 a glass for whites by the glass and £16 for Laurent Perrier 2002 champagne, key highlights include a Château Petrus 1988 for £4,900 a bottle and a 2009 offering from the estate of Sir Peter Michael at £270 a bottle.
Above the restaurant a striking staircase leads to Bar 45, a chic space serving cocktails and offering bar-dining for 30. Adjoining this is media room with 10 comfortable armchairs and a library. The remainder of the building appropriately consists of 45 stylish rooms and suites that include a most impressive penthouse suite with a wrap-around balcony that offers expansive views across Hyde Park.
Fay Maschler concluded her review of CUT with the words: “Cut and come again.” I’d only add that this is a restaurant that is cuttingly magnificent.
CUT, 45 Park Lane, London, W1K 1PN. Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7493 4554. Website: http://www.45parklane.com
Follow CUT on Twitter at: http://www.twitter.com/WolfgangBuzz
Follow 45 Park Lane at: http://www.twiter.com/45ParkLane