Illustration by Sofie Birkin

Why We GoLos Angeles

Dinner at The Hotel Bev Wil, by Roxane Gay


For our second date, my now wife Debbie and I went to CUT Steakhouse at the Four Seasons Beverly Hills. I chose the restaurant because Pretty Woman is one of my favorite movies and what is now a Four Seasons used to be the Hotel Beverly Wilshire, where Julia Roberts and Richard Gere implausibly fall in love and find happily ever after over the course of a whirlwind week. I am known to randomly quote lines from the movie, and especially love saying, “Hotel Bev Wil,” which is what Kit De Luca says, as she writes the information on a pizza box with a tube of lipstick during a phone call with Vivian, Julia Robert’s character. If you know, you know.

Debbie did not know this backstory, yet, but my choice in restaurant was a way of sharing something convivial about myself with this woman I was getting to know. I was also trying to soothe the anxiety of embarking on something new by going someplace familiar. Second dates are tricky. Will the second meeting be as magical? Will you still have chemistry and things to talk about? Will you avoid spilling water on your date the way you did the first time around? (Yes.) And so we went to CUT, passing through a pristine marble lobby, and an extravagant display of flowers. We were seated almost immediately, offered drinks. We enjoyed good wine. We studied the menu which offered standard steakhouse fare but elevated.

The restaurant around us was crowded and the air was filled with the din of the kitchen and people talking and music playing at a fairly unreasonable volume. I think I saw Pat Sajak which was notable because Wheel of Fortune is one of Debbie’s favorite shows. After we ordered, the chef sent out some spicy, savory gougères, and we proceeded to enjoy a steady parade of beautiful food and impeccable service — pretzel rolls and other carbohydrates, a butter lettuce salad with a tart champagne vinaigrette, a marbled ribeye we shared with plenty to spare, broccolini that snapped satisfyingly in the mouth. There was absolutely no room for dessert but when we left, we were satisfied, hopeful. We had not yet made plans for a third date, but I knew there would be one and there was.

It is a genuine pleasure and privilege to be well taken care of at a restaurant, to know that for two or three hours, you don’t need to worry about work or figuring out what to make for dinner or washing the dishes or walking the dog when you get home. Dining out is an experience we too often take for granted but I certainly try not to. I know well how much work, often thankless and always underpaid, the staff in the front and back house put into making a meal memorable.

At CUT, everything feels effortless. While you are seated, there is not a need that won’t be satisfied. If there is a problem, it will be solved. The waiters, all in black, move around the restaurant with balletic movement. They are charming and the right amount of chatty and know the menu inside and out. Want to make a substitution? No problem. Need a recommendation? They’ve got you covered. I appreciate the subtle hand reaching to take away a plate or refill the water glass or when my drink order is remembered and food that is consistently excellent. Going to CUT is a somewhat decadent way of stepping away from the stresses of life, just for a little while. Each time my wife and I return, it is a lovely experience not only for the pleasures of that present moment but also for the memories of that second date, and how far we have traveled between then and now.

Roxane Gay is a writer, professor, and sometimes editor. Follow her on Instagram. Follow Resy, too.