Cut at 45 Park Lane: Business class (December 2014)

There is always something profoundly depressing about restaurants in hotels. Even if they have their own separate entrances, the atmosphere often seems to be one of transience and impersonality. Cut at 45 Park Lane (which one is forced to enter through the eponymous hotel) is little different. Admittedly they have a celebrity chef (Wolfgang Puck) and the largest selection of American wines outside the US, but there is simply no getting away from the fact that this is a place where one goes more for business than for pleasure. It was hard either to fault the food or the wine but the atmosphere was singularly lacking, the nearby conversations dominated by chatter of hedge funds and private equity deals and the prices set to cater for those recently in receipt of Mayfair-sized bonuses. The room itself offers sedate views of nearby Hyde Park, and despite its well-spaced tables, the place still feels somewhat claustrophobic, no doubt a function of the narrow space in which this dining area is squeezed within the overall dimensions of the hotel. Moreover, notwithstanding the size of the tables, the noise level became somewhat unpleasant, particularly as the place filled up. On the positive side, our dishes did please, as did the accompanying wines. My tuna tartare starter was among the best I had experienced, soft and juicy fish enhanced by delicate lime and chilli flavouring, matched perfectly with a glass of Prager’s Austrian Gruner Veltliner. For the mains, while my two dining comrades both opted for steak (the main event here), I chose a seafood pasta, which was also excellent, fairly light and with balanced flavours. My meat-eating comrades praised the attention to detail applied to their sirloin and fillet mignon respectively, both cooked exactly as requested. Even for such a high quality experience, the prices are eye-watering to say the least. Relative value is offered in the form of a two-course set menu for £40 (there are much cheaper set menus at better places, I would note…), but choosing a-la-carte as we did, and starters come in at £15-20, mains at £25-30 and one struggles to find many wines at below £100 a bottle. Fortunately someone else was paying, bit even if this were the case again in the future, I would not feel any major compulsion to return.