Mastro, Arnie Morton's, Wolfgang's, BLT Steak, Ruth's Chris, the Palm — the city is awash in expense-account steak, empurpled slabs of rare, prime beef seared on 1,000-degree grills, and ideally accompanied by a bottle of California cabernet that costs as much as your first car. For years, we asserted that the best steak in town was at Michael's in Santa Monica, because Michael McCarty bought the best beef, dry-aged it for long enough to bring out the profound sourness in the meat, and served it with wispy French fries cooked in pure lard. We still admire that steak. But at Cut, Wolfgang Puck's gleaming-white temple of steakhouse cuisine in the Beverly-Wilshire Hotel, a beef man pads silently around the room with his cuts of certified Japanese wagyu ribeye and filet swaddled in ninja-black cloth — when he displays them at table, he does so with the reverence of an art dealer revealing an undiscovered Cranach. And if your financial consultants should permit you to order this ribeye, you will discover a miracle unduplicated in the world of meat, richness upon richness, all possible permutations of smoke and char and animal dancing across your consciousness like sunlight rippling on a pond. At $160 or so, it will probably be the most expensive meat you have ever eaten … but the sensations are so intense that one small steak easily satiates four. Save room for the warm veal-tongue salad and Lee Hefter's roasted bone marrow flan.

—Jonathan Gold

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