Last week, I had dinner at Cut, one of the hottest new restaurants in LA and the brainchild of the Wolfgang Puck organization, whose 20.21 restaurant is one of my fave eateries here in the Twin Cities. Lee Hefter, Puck’s resident food god and the quarterback of his fine-dining restaurant group, has created an incredible menu, a reinvention of the steak house with all the markers of the classic American version put through Puck and Hefter’s prism of Cal-Asian refraction. The service was amazing, a perfect blend of elegant precision and informal passion, the wine list was a delight to the grape juice–heads at our table (the New Zealand Pinot and the high-end, NoCal Cabs to name two), and the eight of us ate our way through the entire menu. We started with two versions of the signature mini Kobe burgers; a gorgeous and tasty duck liver pavé; a tuna tartare and melba crisp construction; steak tartare; heirloom tomato salad with micro herbs and Humboldt Fog chevre; a killer crab Louis; soft shell crabs with roasted pepper sauce; two four-pound lobsters roasted and shelled, served with a black truffle beurre fondue; three types of steak, including pure imported wagyu from Japan; four sauces; four mustards; four sides, including creamed spinach with a fried egg mixed into it; banana crème pie; and the best chocolate soufflé I have eaten since the early 1980s in Lyon.
Speaking of Lee and Wolf, Puck got married on July 7, and Lee shared the menu with me.
Wedding Menu July 7, 2007
Prosciutto & salamis
Local cheeses & breads
Tomato and bread "mille foglie" salad
Tuna carpaccio & bottarga with local olive oil and herbs
Eggplant & lobster ravioli
Filet of chianina beef
Sounds simple enough, but then again, the cheeses alone were special selections, the fromagorri and affineurs created for the wedding itself, and the cured hams were some of the number-one hams from the attics of Italy's and Spain's best producers. See where I’m going with this? Simple, but perfect. Oh yeah, my spies told me the canapés and hors d’oeuvres were a little over the top as well, from fresh lobster to Beluga 000 caviar. Nice.
Dipping into the mailbag from reader posts on this site, I can tell Reetsy that she needs to buy Giuliano Bugialli’s On Pasta book. It will change her life.
And regards Fugaise, I ate there the third month they opened and then again one day when I had the pleasure of shooting a TV package with Don Saunders, an amazingly kind and talented young chef. I put Fugaise in the top tier of local restaurants, but not in the top three. My top five for food would only be culled from the ranks of LBV, Chambers, Alma, 112, Cosmos, Masa, Vincent, Heartland, Cucina, Oceanaire, Teahouse, Que Nah, Punch (Highland!), Wagner's, my mother-in-law's house, and the cafeteria at Hubbard Broadcasting.
And here’s a note I got from Tor Westgard that should clear up any issues remaining on the table—and I get a sneaky feeling Vlach ends up in the old Carne Asada space. Just a thought.
I just read your blog, partly about the Town Talk, and thought I should email you. Maybe I can help alleviate some confusion.
Tim and AJ's new project(s) do not involve Town Talk Diner LLC. They involve New World Hospitality LLC, a separate company owned and operated by Tim Niver, Aaron Johnson and Dan Ritter. They only thing we have in common is that we share some of the same members. I have become the managing partner of the TTD to set up both the TTD and NWH for future success. I will be focusing solely on the TTD for the foreseeable future, while sharing my partners with NWH and their other endeavors. You might consider referring to them as NWH, since the only thing the TTD is doing right now is becoming better at being the TTD.
David Vlach and Tor Westgard were never a part of NWH. We were only ever part of the TTD. I won't speak for NWH, but they have a chef partner already in Dan Ritter. I wish them luck, and I look forward to enjoying a meal at their new space.
As far as David Vlach's departure is concerned, he decided that it was time to take the next step, and I support him in whatever he decides to do. David and I are old friends, and I will miss cooking with him very much. I am very grateful for the time we had to work together. It was an amicable split, and who knows, we may work together again some day.
It continues to give me immense pleasure to help make so many people happy at the TTD. I am excited about the future and the continued development of our restaurant and concept. Please feel free to contact me regarding future projects for the TTD. Have a good day and I hope to see you in our dining room soon.
Here’s the Body Count . . . enriched, this week, with meaningless editorializing to placate the restless hordes who are uncomfy with unadorned numbers.
Corner Table – 10
They had record numbers last week, but reported 10 for this week. Self-reported, I might add. Scott is a class act.
Picosa – 31
A new restaurant with no buzz and no local interest
Aster/Pracna – HUNDREDS!
They had the Life Time Fitness event happening outside their door.
The coming weeks will find our body counters away on vacation, but Body Count will return the first week in August.