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Aug 17, 2007 10:59 AM

Raoul's --- a little help

I have a birthday celebration soon (not my bday, but my partner's) and I made reservations at Raoul's because I used to like it, but in this space I read some comments about 4 months ago about Raoul's changing the menu, not serving the traditional dishes and thus not being as good as it was. Is it BAD now? Has anyone been there lately? Should I change the reservation? He wants a bistro, that's why I thought of Raoul's.

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  1. My boyfriend and I went to Raoul's about 6 weeks ago. I went in to it thinking that it would be bistro-like fare, and it totally wasn't. I wasn't impressed by the food at all. If you're looking for "bistro," go elsewhere.

    7 Replies
    1. re: LeahBaila

      Agreed. The Raoul's menu has really gone downhill: i haven't been there in the last four months, but my two experiences withing the last year were very disappointing (and it's a place i used to go fairly often)...the exec chef/management has no clue: instead of sticking to bistro standards that suit the place and clientelle, they are attempting fusion circa 1990: it's bizarre and lame...

      These days i'd only consider it for a wee hours dessert and brandy, not for a full meal.

      If your friend wants bistro food, i'd recommend one of: Lucien, Balthazar, or La Lunchonette, depending on the vibe you want...

      1. re: Simon

        This is too bad. I've never been to Raoul's but always meant to drop in some night for dependable bistro fare.

        The web site ( ) touts "a fusion of classical training and spontaneous experimentation" - which might make me spontaneously bolt for the door, if I were looking for bistro standards. But the online menu still lists pate maison, steak tartare, frisee with lardons and poached duck egg, roast chicken, steak au poivre (with frites). Are these dishes now experimentalized beyond recognition?

        1. re: squid kun

          that online menu does look better (and more restrained) than what they had the last time i was there...maybe they are restoring things a bit...

        2. re: Simon

          Now this I'm sorry to read. I had the best Dover sole I ever ate at Raoul's a few years ago. It was always on top of my list of restaurants to visit when I was in the city.

          1. re: Simon

            thanks, i need to do some changes soon, then. what would be the vibe on Lucien and La Lunchonette compared to Balthazar (of those 3, i've only been to balthazar).

            1. re: gurmanda

              Lucien: very East Village, small, crowded, funky, w/ the occassional celebrity (e.g. Tim Robbins at the bar by himself the other night)

              La Lunchonette: darker, quiet, relaxed, romantic in a noirish way.

              1. re: gurmanda

                I went to La Lunchonette this year for someone's birthday. I ordered
                an Irish whiskey, they didn't have it. Later I ordered an Amaretto and
                they didn't have it. I only had a salad, because I didn't know we were
                meeting for dinner and had already eaten. People seemed to like their
                meat dishes, but my impression was, it's a good thing it's dark in here,
                because this place is a DIVE. The servers all looked scruffy, too. Simon's description is more poetic, but.... I guess it depends what you're looking for. It's also in no-man's land.

          2. I'm going to throw in a completely different experience. I've been there twice in the past few months and have enjoyable meals both times. Would I call it typical bistro food? No. But the food we had - steak w/fries and halibut one night, skate and lamb the other time - were well prepared and tasty. I also found the staff to be very nice and accomodating.

            1. Ok, thanks. Now..i am a little confused, because since i've never been to Lucien i did a search in this site and i saw some posts comparing it to Casimir, so now I'm lost, because i think Casimir is PRETTY BAD, the food is just Not good. I do like balthazar but i wanted to go elsewhere for his bday, i was thinking of Fleur de sel because i went the other day for another bday and wanted to go again but i thought it would be selfish, because even though I like the place, it's not really a Bistro and he said he want a Bistro, so I eliminated that option...So my question is: Is Lucien similar to Casimir in terms of food or is it more like Balthazar?

                1. re: gurmanda

                  We enjoyed Le gigot for a small intimate bistro experience. There is another posting in here about best bistro in NYC. Lots of great suggestions listed from all over the city. God luck.