The new CUT Lounge is a recently-opened Wolfgang Puck chic bar and refined lounge located in the former Sidebar space.
Since we had theatre tickets to see “Merrily We Roll Along” at the Wallis Annenberg Theatre, we needed a quicker dining option than the leisurely, fine dining experience at CUT by Wolfgang Puck.
Beautiful glass and metal doors open to the dark and cozy lounge, where we were led to a table for two in the middle of the room by Tracey Spillane, regional director of operations for L.A.
Slinking into low, mid-century modern chairs around a contemporary table, Spillane shared with us that Wolfgang and his wife Gelila Assefa Puck worked with Waldo Fernandez to reimagine Sidebar and decorate the room in sophisticated hues of gray, brown and beige.
Terence Leavey, the new beverage director, has some interesting drinks on his cocktail menu, like the Pins and Needles cocktail made with Hendricks Gin, a rosemary sprig, sliced Japanese cucumber and lemon. It was refreshing to sip while looking over the menu. They carry a collection of rare whiskies from Scotland, USA, Canada, Taiwain and Japan. A vintage Negroni cart will soon be a featured attraction.
To my delight corporate executive chef and partner Lee Hefter and chef Ari Rosenson promoted Hilary Henderson to chef de cuisine. She has worked for the Wolfgang Puck family for quite some time, and most recently, alongside Rosenson as sous chef of CUT Beverly Hills.
We started with the pâté, an ethereal spread served with dark brown bread. The pâté was crusted with honey mustard seeds and decorated with colorful micro flowers.
Another favorite dish was truffle grilled cheese rectangles made with grilled Gruyere and mozzarella cheese topped with decadent black truffle shavings. We also enjoyed the cleverly wrapped empanadas copetin made with Tuscan black kale and Gruyere cheese.
I found the Alaskan King crab and Santa Barbara uni toast with avocado a fresh and clean tasting dish, with a pleasing cocktail sauce. For those who like oysters Rockefeller, the CUT lounge version is Fanny Bay oysters served tempura style in shells with cucumber relish, coconut and cardamom.
Spillane has a professional team working in the lounge. Throughout our culinary experience, Dylan Resnik from Northern California dressed in a formal business suit, checked on us and delivered a small plate of grilled Maine Diver scallops dazzled with Meyer lemon, sage and celery root. The handsome Italian Corrado Alfano brought us cavatappi mac and cheese made with fusilli pasta and aged Canadian cheddar from Quebec. Spaniard Esteban Paulin served us the most tender, dry aged American wagyu sirloin steak skewers placed on a pool of red harrisa aioli. The meat at CUT is grilled over hardwood and charcoal, before finished under a 1200- degree broiler.
Even though we were in a hurry to get the theatre, I wanted to try two desserts by pastry chef Angela Tong, since she has worked under the direction of Spago Beverly Hills award winning executive pastry chef Della Gossett. Tong’s desserts didn’t disappoint, especially her espresso semifreddo that had a hard chocolate shell covering chicory coffee ice cream enhanced with dark chocolate crumble. The inside was mousse-like and heavenly in flavors. We also ordered her apple cider funnel cake made with beautifully roasted heirloom apples and a dash of maple and chopped pecans. The food, wine and cocktails are definitely a CUT above most Los Angeles lounges and many restaurants.
CUT Lounge is not participating in dineL.A. Restaurant Week, however CUT by Wolfgang Puck offers a special $95 multi-course Exclusive series menu. It features an heirloom apple salad; sautéed Maine Diver scallops with roasted Italian chestnuts and French black truffles, plus a steak duo of red wine braised short ribs and a dry aged New York steak with a green peppercorn Armagnac emulsion. For dessert, guests will enjoy the espresso and chicory semifreddo that I enjoyed so much. A sommelier will pair the courses for an additional $50 per person.
CUT Lounge is open 5 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. on Monday through Saturday. It is closed on Sunday. $$$ 9500 Wilshire Blvd. (310)276-8500.
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