Opened in SoHo by two brothers newly arrived from Alsace, France, Raoul’s has become a New York bistro for the books, and only getting better with time. The locals used to come here in the 1970s for the fine French steaks with crispy frites and the undemanding bohemian atmosphere. Today, the classic orders are still the draw: The steamed artichoke, the frisée salad with lardons of bacon and a poached duck egg, the organic chicken with jambalaya risotto, andouille sausage and bell peppers, the thick, tender steak au poivre with pommes frites: these are your various stages of seduction. And then there’s the sexy crowd: artsy, business and model types all milling through the dark front room and aphrodisiacal atrium out back. It’s all this and the laid-back austerity that will keep the impossibly sophisticated set coming back for generations to come.
In a city that often feels obsessed with the next best thing, the immutability of Raoul’s dimly lit space and its classic French menu are both comforting and romantic. Steak, scotch and a soundtrack that wouldn’t offend your grandparents. Perfect.
The steak au poivre is second to none and so is the people watching (it helps I live upstairs).