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Food: The End of Cows

12 November 2011

2:00 PM

12 November 2011

2:00 PM

Wolfgang Puck, who is a globally famous chef, has opened Cut on Park Lane. Beef is Cut’s thing and who doesn’t like beef? Except I am convinced that if cows, like women, discovered their own strength, there would be a cow coup, like in Planet of the Apes. (This is a very personal fantasy.) How I can see them, stampeding down Whitehall and into the Treasury, taking George Osborne hostage. Anyway, I secure a 10.30 p.m. slot on a Monday, which is too late for hunger, but not for celebrities and lighting designed to make everyone look like the Gold Blend couple (‘How was Milan?’). You enter Cut through an art deco, Miami-esque entrance. The restaurant is essentially a corridor except, due to mirrors, it is a very long corridor, with the cars of Park Lane beyond. The men are old, with a hint of Vlad Tepes, and the women are tight-eyed and thin. I can see Geri Halliwell shouting thank-you at a table of men, with hate in her eyes. It is very Ferrero Rocher.

 The beef is sold, rather chillingly, in 6, 10, 14 or 16oz bits, so it feels like an organ farm. This is all gist to Planet of the Cows, which is forming in my mind as a screenplay. (The poster would say Scary Moo-vie). Because this is a cataclysm, an annihilation, the Very End of Cows.

Which is just what I like, because they do taste wonderful — so rich, dense and wet — and are here tonight from Kansas, the south-west, Australia and Chile, from £29 to £85 a lump (Madam). The service is modern submissive: beautiful girls in black, with a Marion Cotillard look — both warm and cold, in one face. Over rolls a trolley of raw beef, in tidy layers; are you really supposed to select it like this? I like to eat meat, but not meat so raw I can imagine it loving something, or knowing what it has lost. It is also quite unhygienic. Perhaps I am too much of a crypto-Marxist to go to Cut. I am over-identifying with the menu. Anyway, here it is — a trolley of what used to be the world’s most pampered cows, skinless and vulnerable.

My companion, who is trying to hear what Geri Halliwell is saying, has Dorset crab and lobster salad. It is fresh and beautiful, like Judy Garland before Louis B. Mayer ruined her — absolutely the best food you can find in London, and the money here would expect no less. I have the salmon, which is lemony, damp, and exquisite for such an ugly fish. And the meat? I think there is something very erotic about eating nearly raw beef, although obviously I spoil it by having a pile of onion rings on the side. The chips are the only flaw in this palace of carnality — soggy and warm, anorexic chip-shop chips. But the cows? They did not die in vain.

I wander upstairs to the bar and library. It is a library for rich people — that is, it only has picture books. There is an old man, a Frenchman, a photographer, two prostitutes (I think) and an Arab in Piccadilly chic — luminous green cords and a blinding white polo neck. (No cow juice on this one.) Would you like a drink, he asks. No. He cannot think I am a prostitute. I am wearing flip-flops. A coffee then? I submit and we have a very strange conversation: I pretend I am not a hack and he pretends he is not furious that a woman in flip-flops is sitting in ‘his’ library, reading a picture book. Off he goes, and a prostitute whispers, ‘He is a sheikh.’ So the coffee was an act of lebensraum. That is what happens when you serve raw meat on trolleys. They are so odd, the rich. To see them, come to Cut.

Cut, 45 Park Lane, London W1K 1PN, tel: 020 7493 4545.

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