Does the world need another celebrity chef-powered steak house? Should you shell out $160 for eight ounces of meat? If we’re talking about Cut (9500 Wilshire Blvd.; 310/276-8500; dinner for two $200), in the Four Seasons Beverly Wilshire hotel, the answer is a resounding yes. True, Wolfgang Puck may be a ubiquitous brand these days, but Cut is his masterpiece, marking a return to sophisticated pleasures. The open kitchen wows with the likes of goose-liver mousse between gossamer Tunisian spiced wafers; perfect asparagus crowned with a fried egg; and adorable American Kobe-beef sliders that stand out even in this burger-mad town. And isn’t it fun to watch see-through model-actresses giving their arteries a shock with the decadent bone-marrow flan? Puck himself, looking very Hollywood with his close-up-ready smile, is often seen working the black-leather banquettes consistently packed with Industry players. Clearly, he doesn’t want to miss out on the party, either.
L.A. has never been particularly rich in modern European-style restaurants, which is why the arrival of Providence (5955 Melrose Ave.; 323/460-4170; dinner for two $140) is so significant. An ambitious collaboration between Italian-born Donato Poto—he’s the elegant maître d’—and the gifted chef Michael Cimarusti, Providence announces its serious intentions with the very first amuse-bouche: say, a shot glass of frothy fennel soup, chased by rounds of saffron gelée. Fusing French and Japanese sensibilities with modern Spanish techniques, Cimarusti is at his most creative with seafood, embellishing raw kanpachi with wasabi sorbet and a frosting of osetra caviar, or giving a dreamy risotto an Asian twist with shimeji mushrooms and anago eel. In the softly lit, earth-toned dining room, dinnertime chatter is more likely to run to Burgundy vintages than to development deals. And even if your waiter can recite the ingredients of the Santa Barbara sea urchin sabayon like a well-practiced soliloquy, somehow you don’t get the feeling that he’ll disappear after the next pilot season.
Let others play Spot Lindsay Lohan at this week’s celebrity hangout while you engage in a far more thrilling Los Angeles pastime: exploring the authentic cuisines in the city’s far-flung ethnic communities. Haven’t done Chinese in Monterey Park? Hop in the car and get yourself to Macau Street (429 W. Garvey Ave., Monterey Park; 626/288-3568; lunch for two $40). Nominally Macanese, the menu is actually most reminiscent of casual Hong Kong coffee shops, where red-bean slushies and safe Cantonese standbys coexist with exotic animal parts. The red walls, decorated with prints of Old Macao, get brighter with each new dish brought by the yellow-bloused servers: soft, rich slices of "roasted pig neck"; squab with a lacquered, mahogany skin; a crisp-bottomed rice hot-pot larded with nuggets of sweet Chinese sausage and preserved duck. And don’t even think of passing over the chicken knees. Chewy and crunchy at once, these spice-dusted nubbins are a million times more addictive than Buffalo wings.