photo credit: Noah Devereaux
Raoul’s is still the best. That’s really the only proper way to put it. If you can’t have a good time here, you probably can’t have a good time anywhere. This lively French bistro has been a Soho institution since the '70s. It’s that awesome NYC restaurant depicted in your favorite Woody Allen flick, one that probably doesn’t exist in real life... except it does. It is also pretty much exactly the same as it was when we first weighed in on it back in 2010, and we’d bet that not much will change in the decade to come. Restaurants come and go in this city, things change, trends happen, yet Raoul’s keeps on chugging. Now it just has even more action because it gets overflow from The Dutch across the street.
Raoul’s is useful for a variety of different things. Having dinner with friends from out of town you want to impress with a classic New York evening? Raoul’s is the quintessential downtown restaurant for such activities. Double date with your favorite party couple who like to untuck, throw a couple back, and grub hard? This is the place. On the prowl after work with your favorite wing man/wing woman? There’s all kinds of quality Action At The Bar at Raoul’s with a classy crowd of spunky ladies and well put together dudes. Let’s just say this isn’t the kind of place you’d meet someone on a popular dating app. It’s the kind of place you'd meet someone while you’re both peering into the fish tank in the middle of the restaurant, checking out the goldfish. We’ve got your ice-breaker line prepared for you: “I bet its name is Nemo.” You’re welcome.
If you want to be all up in the mix, make sure to request a table in the front of the restaurant. Or post up at the bar, which is always a good move. Speaking of the bar, that’s the only place you can get their tremendous burger, which they only make a limited amount of every night. For a more subdued good time, the back atrium through the kitchen is where it’s at. Either way, prepare to have a good time.
Seared Foie Gras
This dish tastes like the best French toast and grape jam you’ll ever have. The soft, buttery, delicate foie is fcking perfect and comes with Russian kale, chanterelle mushrooms, and an amazing concord grape puree. Order it.
If you’re not too squeamish about the food you eat, this appetizer is a definite must. Yes, you are getting down with a bowl of snails, but they are buttery, garlicky, and delicious.
Bigeye Tuna Tartare
Pretty standard tuna tartare. You really can’t go wrong. Although, we’d highly recommend going with either of the previous two appetizer options.
Steak Au Poivre
This is THE dish at Raoul’s. A massive piece of perfectly cooked, medium-rare filet with a pepper crust and peppercorn sauce. This might be the single best steak you can get at a nice restaurant for $37 in Manhattan. It’s served with addicting fries that are cooked in - what else? - duck fat. It must suck to be vegetarian.
Seared Sea Scallops
Halibut, brook trout, Maine lobster, monkfish... while these are all nice options, trust us that sea scallops are where you want to be here. This is our move whenever we need something a little lighter than the steak au poivre. Three buttery, delicious scallops are served swimming in lobster broth with snow peas and cauliflower. Amazing.
Conceptually similar to the Stracciatella alla Romana at Maialino, this dish can be off-putting when you think about it. Egg on top of chicken = baby on top of mama. This one, however, is fantastic and is served with farm egg in a thick, creamy mousseline sauce. Order it with confidence.
Only served at the bar, and limited to 12 every night, Raoul’s burger may not be the most accessible, but it is definitely one of the most delicious. The beefy patty comes on a challah roll with creamy cheese and watercress. Dining solo never looked so good.