The Beverly Wilshire, a luxury hotel that dates back to 1928, is a well-heeled globetrotter’s playground steps away from Rodeo Drive and its Chanel, Dior, Tom Ford and Louis Vuitton stores. It’s an elaborate holiday getaway with luminous Christmas trees and an oversized gingerbread house, its grand hallways and all the dressed-up tourists on the make. This Four Seasons property in Beverly Hills is where Elvis and Steve McQueen enjoyed extended stays—and might best be known as the Pretty Woman hotel, where Julia Roberts’ hooker with a heart of gold wouldn’t kiss on the mouth at first.
But there’s a twist here in 2016, perhaps not as dramatic as the plot points in the movie, though pleasing in its own way. This hotel is now home to a cool lounge, with a kitchen run by two women, chef de cuisine Hilary Henderson and pastry chef Angela Tong—who are creating the kind of modern Los Angeles food you wouldn’t be surprised to see in scenester neighborhood restaurants teeming with the type of young customers who have no fucking idea who Richard Gere even is.
We’re talking about the sister bar of Wolfgang Puck’s fancy-pants Cut steakhouse, the meatery where billionaires go to eat Snake River Farms filets in a Richard Meier-designed setting. Cut Lounge, which opened about a month ago in the former Sidebar space, is decidedly more relaxed with its steak skewers and its low-back, mid-century modern chairs and mini sofas. But this is still a Puck production. So the requisite avocado toast here comes with Santa Barbara uni and Alaskan king crab.
There’s no foie gras, though. Instead, Henderson’s “Rough Cuts” menu offers spreadable chicken liver “pastrami” with honey mustard for a hit of salty-sweet comfort on slices of black bread. There are also truffled grilled cheese sandwiches and curry beef puffs and tempura Hog Island oysters and nicely crispy prawns wrapped in kataifi (a pastry dough usually used for Greek desserts) with garlic chili ponzu and shaved bonito. Henderson makes the type of globally inspired, totally 2016 food that would be a hit at an upstart restaurant in Highland Park or Palms, neighborhoods that would also appreciate Cut Lounge’s mezcal cocktails and barrel-aged Negronis, Old Fashioneds and Sazeracs.
Here at this gastropub of sorts in the Beverly Wilshire, you can supplement your meal by ordering Osetra caviar and Japanese Miyazaki Prefecture wagyu rib eyes and two-pound Maine lobsters with black truffle sabayon from the ultra high-end steakhouse across the way.
Whatever you do, you’ll want to end with Tong’s apple-cider funnel cake (with roasted heirloom apples, maple and pecans) and the symphony of textures in her perfectly over-the-top coffee semifreddo with chicory-coffee ice cream, dark chocolate crumbs and rye. These are sumptuous desserts for grown-ups that will trigger something resembling childlike joy. That’s kind of the entire point of going to an opulent Beverly Hills resort, right?