Having a chance to be in Vegas for a couple of days for a conference, this of course led to food opportunities. I was shocked (SHOCKED, I tell you) when I went to my burger reference points and I had no places listed to try. The Burger Bar at the Wynn was mentioned in a couple of places on line, but didn’t look particularly compelling. So we decided to try eating Vegas-style. Our first stop was at CUT by Wolfgang Puck, at the Palazzo.
The space is very non-steakhouse:
- light and airy, as opposed to wood paneling and leather;
- incredibly comfortable chairs that felt like Herman Miller aerons (without wheels – but they swiveled. I don’t think we sat “still” the whole dinner except when we were physically chewing) as opposed to wing backs;
- LOUD as opposed to quiet and reserved.
I’m sure that is part of the design from the original location in Beverly Hills and it translated well.
The first appearance of Bonito (our waiter) at the table was the presentation of the beef – starting (at the top) with corn-fed dry aged American beef, down through American Kobe-style beef (I wasn’t sure what exactly that was, so from the AP last year – “In the United States, Japanese Wagyu cattle were bred with Angus cattle to create a crossbred animal that would be more able to survive the U.S. climate and ranching methods. The meat of this crossbreed was more marketable to the typical American buyer, for whom the meat of the wagyu cow is “too white”. The meat of the crossbreed provides the balance of marbling and red meat desired by them. This crossbreed has been named American Style Kobe Beef.”) to the Australian wagyu, at the bottom.
The second waitperson (Alice) showed up with some delicious breads (pumpernickel, roasted wheat, house-made focaccia and house-made pretzels) along with a gruyere pop-over of some sort (which was heavenly) and that kept us occupied waiting for our starters.
Jo began with a Roasted Baby Beet Salad with Humboldt Fog goat cheese, toasted pistachios, citrus, micro basil, and mint. She (effectively) licked her plate clean.
I began with a heirloom tomato salad with what I thought was goat cheese (but turned out to be bleu cheese – I apparently, and somewhat tragically, cross-read items on the menu), red onions and white anchovies. The heirloom tomatoes were excellent, particularly the green variety on the bottom of the stack, but the bleu cheese was STRONG and the anchovies were too much – I ate one, leaving the other.
Prior to dinner itself arriving, Alice brought out a tray of mustards – Dijon, Dijon + a Cabernet reduction, crazy-spicy horseradish based and a salty version – to add as possible options to the steak. Not being a mustard guy, Jo taste-tested those for me on what was left of her pretzel. (I did taste the Dijon+Cabernet – it was very strong of wine – and the regular Dijon – which I never like anyhow). The horseradish description was hers. On to the meal.
Jo ordered the lobster with a side of wild mushrooms. The lobster arrived, table-side, fairly whole and Bonito de-shelled it for her. This was quite a show in itself, and it resulted in quite a stack of lobster, which was served with a black truffle emulsion and drawn butter. I’m not a huge lobster fan, but it tasted like good lobster to me. Jo ate most all of it, save for the meat from one of the claws that was a little too “mushy”.
Being a dedicated carnivore, I went with the New York sirloin “sampling”. From left to right:
- U.S.D.A. PRIME, NE, Dry Aged 35 Days
- American “Kobe Style” From Snake River Farms, ID
- Australian Wagyu From Blackmore Ranchall cooked to medium.
They served the steaks with a set of three sauces, one designed to go with each – their house-made steak sauce (a spicy Heinz 57), a chimichurri (which was very herby) and a bernaise. I tried a taste of each but, honestly, the steak was too good to allow it to be molested by sauce.
I ate my way across the plate, starting with the corn-fed Nebraska beef. It was a very good steak with nice texture. Had it been the only steak that I had eaten that night, I would have walked away thinking that CUT was a good steak house. Not great, but definitely good. The American Kobe-style beef was next and was better than the corn-fed beef. Better? Definitely. Twice as good (based on the price)? Likely not.
On the other hand, the Australian wagyu was the best steak I’ve ever eaten, hands down. The texture was smooth, not grainy (and I don’t mind the feeling of the grain in beef on my teeth, at all), and the taste was buttery (likely from the fine marbling of fat spreading into the meat as it cooked) and somewhat sweet (have you noticed the sweeter taste of grass-fed, as opposed to grain-fed beef? Multiply that). I sliced it into very small bites and savored each and every one of them, except for the one that I shared with Jo.
For my side, I chose a silver queen-type corn, grilled, then shaved from the cob, cooked with just a bit of sugar. The taste was exceptional – described by the waiter as “like popcorn” and that was spot on. It was warm and sweet and slightly crunchy. A perfect complement to the steak and delicious.
When they cleared the dinner plates, they brought the dessert menu. I was actually determined NOT to eat dessert, because I was still savoring the taste of that last bite of wagyu. But all things must pass and we decided to share a piece of banana cream pie.
The BCP was like an eclair, on a crisp cracker with caramel and a ten-year (supposedly the name “ten-year” comes from the fact that it took the chef ten years to come up with this sauce) chocolate sauce and a caramelized banana. The dessert was good but, all things considered, I’d probably have preferred to have two more ounces of that heavenly wagyu beef.