is raouls a good spot to take out of town guests who want a classic french meal?
Sure, at the low end. The food is excellent and wine list adequate. The most exciting moment of the evening is usually the decent from the facilities. It would be a fun night and the nabe is great.
it's a cute, dark, hallowed space and the standards used to very good...but my last couple meals there were sub-par and the menu has changed...these days, i only go there for a late-late romantic dessert...
It depends what you want when you say "classic French meal"...bistro?...or classical French?...i'd recommend specify price-range and the kind of vibe you want and you'll get clearer suggestions...
For out of town guests, i'd recommend Balthazar...i also like Lucien which is an East Village scene of sorts...and while i've never been, many respected chowhounds have recommended Park Bistro...
Regulars on this board know I'm a huge fan of Park Bistro. We were just there night before last and had a scrumptious meal. However, the cuisine is contemporary French, not classic.
You're right, Simon, that classic French cuisine is available on both the bistro and upscale levels. For example, La Grenouille is pretty much the last of the NYC Grandes Dames of classic haute French cuisine. And our favorite classic bistro, La Petite Auberge, is celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year.