First Impressions: Cut

cut-wolfgang-puck-tribeca-four-seasons-hotel-new-york-downtownBack story: Chef Wolfgang Puck, who gained prominence after opening L.A.’s Spago in 1982, has become a worldwide megabrand. There are too many restaurants bearing his name to count—in airports, amusement parks, museums, supermarkets, malls, and beyond. There are Wolfgang Puck kitchen supplies, food products, and cookbooks; there are online classes and a catering division. Cut is Puck’s steakhouse brand, with six locations around the world, and the new outpost at the Four Seasons Hotel New York Downtown is his first restaurant in New York City.

The atmosphere: Don’t be fooled by the staid exterior of 30 Park Place. You enter off Church, with the bar to the right and the dining room to the left. Both rooms have dark walls, black tables, and lurid pops of color. The bar, which seats 32, is dominated by bright red bolts of neon. In the dining room, which seats 86, are deep magenta chairs, marigold draperies pulled across the window, and Puck’s lightly suggestive art collection (“Move me” scrawled in pink neon, a Barbara Kruger–esque diptych about a woman getting turned on by a chef). Spotlights illuminate the tables, but not quite enough; one patron after another uses an iPhone flashlight to read the menu. The music is pop-rock, mostly from the ’80s (“Hot Child in the City,” “Emotional Rescue,” “Heartbreaker”), with a few contemporary songs mixed in. Theatrical flourishes abound: The decanters are fanciful horn-like shapes; the delicious, two-foot-tall grissini sit on the table like sculpture; the cocktail menu goes from Jackie Collins to Sylvia Plath in three pages. Forbidden Kiss, Show Me Love, Indecent Exposure, Sloppy Kisses…. It sounds like a strip club’s playlist, until you look closer. Ball & Chain, Home Wrecker, Locked & Loaded, Bullet to the Head…. (“I’ll have the Rough Love,” I said, channeling my spirit animal. The drink arrived in a massive goblet, with a king cube inside. It was so heavy—and top-heavy—that I had to lift with two hands.) Almost every other new restaurant in recent years has gone for the hand-crafted, artisanal aesthetic, but this Cut is far more Vegas than Brooklyn. Could it be someone’s idea of what “downtown” means, or at least meant at one point in time?

grissini-at-cut-four-seasons-downtown-nyMenu: Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, Cut is mainly a steakhouse, but with many other options. Here’s the dinner menu and a photo of the bar menu.

cut-dinner-menucut-four-seasons-ny-bar-menuGold star: Adam and I don’t generally eat a lot of meat, so we weren’t especially looking forward to dinner at Cut. As you can see above, the menu is heavy on the animal, and even the handful of vegetarian dishes seem to be rich. We ordered the tomato salad, the scallop “carpaccio” (the quotations marks are theirs—they should just call it crudo), the “Hong Kong style” salmon, the Creekstone Farms bone-in rib-eye, untruffled fries, and sautéed kale and spinach. (Yes, I know we could’ve gone full-vegetarian, but that’s clearly not the fairest way to test this restaurant.) It was all very good! The starters and the salmon, in particular: Puck probably first served salmon in soy-chile sauce at Santa Monica’s Chinois sometime in the mid-80s, and it’s become a bit hackneyed over the years, so I had forgotten how satisfying the dish can be when the fish is both high-quality and perfectly cooked. I wished the fries were at the level of Houseman’s or North End Grill’s, but we still ate them all. The only meh moments were condiments—Old Bay aioli without any trace of spice and a shallot bordelaise sauce less flavorful than Landmarc’s. We skipped dessert, so someone else will have to weigh in on that.

tomato-salad-at-cut-four-seasons-ny bone-in-ribeye-steak-at-cut-four-seasons-nyRoom for improvement: The thing about semi-formal theatrics is that your staff has to be crackerjack. The host, server, and sommelier were great, but the runners weren’t up to the tasks of displaying the raw Wagyu beef at the table (does anyone enjoy that upsell?), saying the word “gougères” (tasty, though), explaining what the petits fours were—he set the dish down and turned heel—and so on. I don’t really care about any of that stuff, but done awkwardly, it detracts, and the management should streamline the experience or invest in more training. Also, those matte black tables need to be cleaned constantly—every crumb and smear is lit as if it’s onstage. (Adam would like me to add that he finds it inexcusable for two people to be given a dish with two different petits fours, because you have to negotiate over who gets which one.)

tables-at-cut-four-seasons-downtown-nyAnything else? The non-steak parts of the menu didn’t seem crazy expensive in advance, especially for a hotel restaurant, but somehow we spent nearly $100 more than at Le Coucou, which is no hole-in-the-wall and where we had both dessert and a nicer bottle of wine. My point: Beware the steakhouse upcharge, where getting meat and two sides will cost at least $80.

Contact: Cut has its own entrance at 99 Church (between Park Place and Barclay); 646-880-1995;

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  1. Nice review! I’m pretty sure the bar seats less than 32. Maybe you meant the lounge and bar combined?

  2. Thanks for the helpful review. I went as well and Cut exceeded my expectations. This will be my go-to steakhouse for taking clients out and for that special occasion. The bar is also very impressive.

  3. “We skipped dessert, so someone else will have to weigh in on that”…. oh i see what you did there…. well done!

    I applaud your decision to work in some animal – and I second N comment on nice review.

    thx as always

  4. The inside of the baked Alaska was good; maybe a little too brown and not meringue-y enough on the outside but how often do you get baked Alaska anymore.