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Test driving Wolfgang Puck's Cut at 45 Park Lane

Test driving Wolfgang Puck's Cut at 45 Park Lane

What is Cut?

This is the first London restaurant for American celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck - the man behind Spago and the chef who's the official caterer for the Academy Awards. On paper it's a steakhouse in a luxury hotel, in practice our lunch here was one of the best meals of the year.

Where is it?

Cut is the hotel restaurant for 45 Park Lane, a new-build boutique hotel which is part of the Dorchester Group and handily just opposite the entrance to the Dorchester.

Who's it suitable for?

Lunchtime clientele during the week were predominantly business, although we spotted a few Los Angeles Beach-Boy style types as well. At night expect this to be a place to gawp at celebrities. We hear that Brad and Angelina have already had lunch here, so it's on that level.

But whoever you are, the staff here are really so friendly and helpful, it would be impossible not to have a good time. It's a posh place, but not a stilted one - so come and have fun.

Where should I meet my fellow diners for a pre-dinner drink?

If you're hoping to keep costs down, you're probably in the wrong part of town, but we noticed a glass of white wine on the bar menu for just £7 which is pretty good for Park Lane.

But hang the expense, the cocktails here are really very good indeed. We had a Crouching Tiger - with jasmine flower and green-tea infused vodka and a Garden of Eden with Mango black tea-infused vodka and cane sugar syrup with hand-carved ice. Both were exemplary as was the charming service we received here.

What should I expect when I walk in the front door?

There's no direct entrance to the restaurant, so you enter through the hotel's reception. The bar is upstairs or you can go straight into the restaurant with its rather strange brillo-pad light installations.

There's been some talk about the background music here - which when we went started with Hotel California and took in U2 and Sting. We actually quite liked it - thinking it was better than the bland musak hotel restaurants sometimes inflict on diners.

Where should we sit?

The one thing we weren't keen on were the proportions of the dining room. Split into three key sections - we were in the middle on the banquette by the Damian Hurst butterfly pictures - it's hard to do proper people watching when you can't see everyone. The round tables for 4-6 in the centre of the middle room looked like a good place to have a group meal, and there's a table for two in the first room where both diners can sit looking into the room that we'd like to bag next time.

What would you recommend ordering?

The menu at Cut is one of the most engaging we've seen in ages - honestly it took us forever to try and work out what we wanted it all sounded so good. In the end we plumped for a Dorset crab and lobster cocktail with spicy tomato-horseradish (£17) and Austrian oxtail bouillon with bone marrow dumplings (£9).

The crab and lobster cocktail was one of the prettiest dishes we'd seen this year and packed with loads of sweet fresh lobster. The soup was as comforting as you'd imagine - the kind of thing you'd dream of being spoon-fed when recovering from a bad cold. Both dishes were paired with a lightly-oaked Domain Drouhin chardonnay from Oregon (£13.50 a glass).

Although there were plenty of main courses we fancied trying, it seemed crazy to come here and not try the steak, so we tried both the 6oz New York steak of Australian Wagyu (£70) and the 14oz Kansas Rib Eye which had been aged for 35 days (£32). Apart from the fact that the Rib Eye was a little rarer than ordered, both were excellent - fired off on the grill first and then finished in a broiler.

Was the Wagyu worth the money? It was certainly great, marbled with lovely fat and perfectly cooked but we're not sure we were expert enough to appreciate the difference. We're sure though that there are plenty of steak-fiends in London who'd enjoy trying the steak tasting dish on the dinner menu which for £48 compares three types of steak including the Wagyu.

The side orders are worth a special mention, particularly the skin-on French fries and the finest stack of onion rings we've ever had. Wafer-thin and coated with tempura batter these are a must-order.

For dessert we managed to put away some vanilla beignets with a great salted caramel sauce and a slice of caramilk chocolate bar with elderberry sorbet (£9). Both were good, but we were really far too pigged-out at this stage to do them justice.

Is bread included?

Absolutely. We had a choice of foccacia with caramelised onions, wholemeal and olive bread.

How's the wine list? Good value or painful?

In the capable hands of Italian sommelier Vanessa Cincti, who previously worked at Puck's Spago in Colorado, we were guided through the American selection. There's no getting away from the fact that this is where the restaurant will really make its money, but if you're determined to keep costs down there are glasses of Viognier for £7 and a Grenache-Syrah for £8.

If you have the budget, there's a great selection of American wines here to work your way through. Any of the Domaine Drouhin pinot noirs will do you proud.

How much is this going to set me back?

On the one hand, if you have to worry too much about the bill, you probably aren't the target customer here at Cut where the clientele is well-heeled or armed with a company expense account (or both). That said, it's perfectly possible to have a great lunch here and not faint dead away when the bill arrives. The burger (only on the lunch menu) is a very affordable £15.

Alternatively, why not head up for drinks at the 45 bar and try the bar food here where you can get three mini Kobe sliders for £14 or the Dorset crab and lobster in a roll for £12.

Wolfgang Puck's Cut - 45 Park Lane, Mayfair, London W1K 1PN - find out more.

Hot Dinners were invited to eat at Cut.  Prices are correct at time of writing.

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