Any restaurant with Damien Hirst on its walls can reasonably be classified as a big deal. Stick it inside 45 Park Lane, a luxury hotel part of the Dorchester Collection, and the deal gets bigger still.
And should it have been the first European venture from Austrian-American superchef Wolfgang Puck – possessor of a global reputation and the coolest name in the industry – then you have a proper culinary event.
So yeah, CUT at 45 Park Lane has the kind of pedigree typically seen taking first prize at Crufts. Happily, the restaurant lives up to its decor, surroundings and heritage with a simple tactic – being really, really bloody good.
What to order?
As the name suggests, meat is the speciality here – as evidenced from the starters. Beef wagyu sliders drip with juice and sauce and flavour. Although literally impossible to extend beyond two bites – anything more and you're nibbling – those two bites are fucking brilliant. Ditto the crispy prawn and beef wontons that shame every Chinese takeaway you've ever had.
Yet don’t assume CUT is a one-trick pony. (Or cow, in this case.) The octopus carpaccio was added to the menu a day before our visit. It looks like a firework on the plate, all white and green and purple… “it looks like a garden," says my plus 1 so fine, it's both. (Although I could’ve made a good Beatles joke with her comparison.) Anyway, it's very refreshing and a wise choice if you're loading up on steak for mains
And of course you want a steak; I opted for the Australian wagyu fillet. It arrives on a vast white plate, like a painting on the wall of an art gallery. Creamy mashed potatoes and wild mushrooms are soon added to keep it company. Obviously I knew the meat would be good but man, you forget how good good meat can be. Stupendously good if it's an Australian wagyu fillet from CUT.
The plus-1 is a pescatarian so orders stir-fried black pepper lobster and aubergine. In contrast to the meat's sparse presentation, this dish is ready for the Met Gala. There’s lobster everywhere you look, its legs jutting in the air, its flesh gleaming with butter and oil. The p1 calls it the best lobster she's ever had – and no, it wasn’t her first.
For the desert, we were given crumble and cheesecake. The cheesecake was good, the crumble superb; broken up in the bowl in front of us and covered with cream.
That was the recommendation of Raffaele, one of the excellent team who work here. His colleague Roman, the sommelier, kept us well sated with expertly judged wine pairings for each individual dish. However brilliant the meal, the service is what makes the experience special.
What’s the damage?
What do you think? It’s Wolfgang Puck on Park Lane: you better come with a strong old credit card. My steak broke £100 alone; a sharing cut would have cost £380, the same price as 50g of Beluga caviar.
Wanna really make your bank manager cry? Order a bottle of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, Romanée Saint Vivant, Grand Cru – yours for £9,900. Follow it up with an £8,000 port.
Obviously these are extreme examples but you should prepare to spend a couple of hundred quid here minimum, potentially more. And that’s OK. Just as there’s a place for cheap eats, there’s also a place for big, expensive dinners. But maybe be careful with the caviar.
45 Park Lane
An address on one of London’s most exclusive roads; managed by one of the world’s most exclusive hotel groups. Yeah, 45 Park Lane was never going to miss. However I never expected it to hit the mark in quite such spectacular fashion.
Designed by modernist architect Walter Gropius in the early 1960s – he also did the MetLife building in New York – the building started life as a nightclub before being acquired by the Dorchester Collection and opened as a hotel in 2011. There are only 45 rooms – neat – all of which offer a view of Hyde Park.
We stayed in the Curzon Suite, which was larger than my flat and considerably more opulent. (Plus fewer unwashed dishes in the sink.) The bedroom is pretty spectacular – a desk, a balcony, a huge TV that can be turned to face the king-sized double bed – but that’s not the half of it – literally.
There’s a living room that seemingly goes on forever: two sofas, two armchairs, a dining table and another TV. The Art Deco decor gives off serious Upper West Side vibes; by the time you’ve named the purple rubber duck in the bathroom (marble, natch), checking out will be a problem.
The spa is quite something. Designer Jouin Manku has created a space of considerable style and comfort. The swimming pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room will have you entering full relaxation. I was a big fan of the automatic doors that slide open as you approach; made me feel like I was in a James Bond film.
Tick off some lengths, recline within the bubbles, peruse the newspaper will spread across a lounge. Then head upstairs to prepare for dinner. You know where to go.
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45 Park Ln, London W1K 1PN; CUT