Sometimes I feel I’ve got to

Run away, I’ve got to

Get away from the pain you drive into the heart of me

The love we share

Seems to go nowhere

And I’ve lost my light

For I toss and turn, I can’t sleep at night

Once I ran to you (I ran)

Now I’ll run from you

This tainted love you’ve given

I give you all a boy could give you

Take my tears and that’s not nearly all

Tainted love (oh)

Tainted love

Now I know I’ve got to

Run away, I’ve got to

Get away, you don’t really want any more from me

To make things right

You need someone to hold you tight

And you think love is to pray

But I’m sorry, I don’t pray that way

Once I ran to you (I ran)

Now I’ll run from you

This tainted love you’ve given

Don’t touch me, please

I cannot stand the way you tease

I love you though you hurt me so

Now I’m gonna pack my things and go.

Soft Cell, Tainted Love


180 Prince Street (at Sullivan)

New York, NY 10012

Phone: 212.966.3518


You can’t separate Raoul’s from its history. From its website:

Two brothers journeyed from Alsace, France, to Soho, New York. They found a little restaurant for sale. They were so poor they threw nothing out, not even the salt. The booths were already in place and they kept the chairs until they fell apart or were destroyed in the brawls that marked the early years. Guy turned his Alsatian cooking skills to fine steaks and fish for low prices – even cheaper at the bar. Serge stood outside on Prince Street, a lonely figure importuning passersby to enter and taste. People began to trickle in from their illegal lofts in the neighborhood. Some came back the next night or the next week. And spread the word. More people came. And came back. Soon the locals were complaining about the good reviews. The rest is New York bistro history.

The history is legendary.

In the 1970’s, before Soho became an outdoor mall offering global brands that are familiar to anyone who has been in an international airport, it was home to artists, writers, musicians and bohemians. The rents were cheap, the spaces were large and the warehouses had charm. After Raoul’s opened, it was not long until the cast from Saturday Night Live came for late night dinners and heavy drinking at the bar in the front room of the bistro. Movies stars such as Kelly McGillis, Jennifer Beals, Ethan Hawke, Uma Thurman and Sarah Jessica Parker were seen at Raoul’s. Quentin Tarantino and the cast of “Pulp Fiction” celebrated the opening of the film at the New York Film Festival at Raoul’s. Robert De Niro and Al Pacino had regular seats.

In 2015 the New York Times published an article on Raoul’s titled: “A Discreet Celebrity Hangout in Soho, Turns 40.”  According to The Times:

The current chef, David Honeysett, has broadened the menu beyond traditional bistro fare to include seasonal dishes. But the steak au poivre remains firmly in place. “I think they drug everybody with that steak,” Mr. Tubb said. “I think the steak au poivre sauce has some kind of LSD effect on people and they have to have it. They crave it.”

When we arrived for our 8:30 reservation on Sunday night, we were hit with a wall of noise. The place was packed. The bar was packed. The front room was packed. The aisle to the dining room in the back was packed. We were concerned that we were in for an evening of shouted conversations and sore throats.

Fortunately, a booth in the dining room was waiting for us. Our stylish and friendly host shepherded us past the stuffed deer with a zebra mask on its head and the fish aquarium at the entrance to the dining room.

The art in the back dining room is an eclectic collection of nudes, portrait paintings and photographs all French inspired.

Even so, our waiter was dressed in traditional black pants, black apron and a white shirt. He presented a chalk board menu in French. If you don’t read French, an English menu is printed.

Raoul’s divides its menu into three main categories:

Petits Plats A Partager (small plates for sharing)

Entrees ( entrance; dish served before the main course)

Plats Principaux (main courses)

The “entrees” included warm octopus salad (with olives, chick pea puree and wild arugula), Catskill’s mountain smoked salmon (with shaved radish, salmon roe and shirred farm egg) and a ricotta and egg raviolo (with guanciale, sage, roquette and beurre noisette). The entrees ranged in price from $13 to $26. Two would be needed to make a full meal.

The “plats principaux”  featured a crispy local skate, a monkfish day boat, organic roast chicken ( soaked in brine for 18 hours according to the waiter) and the famous and psychedelic Steak au Poivre.

“I think they drug everybody with that steak,” Mr. Tubb said. “I think the steak au poivre sauce has some kind of LSD effect on people and they have to have it. They crave it.”

Evidently consuming the steak is like taking a tablet of blotter acid. It is the most famous dish on the Raoul menu.

The waiter brought us a basket of bread and butter. The bread is from Amy’s Bread. It failed.  Insipid.

For the entrees, we had an artichoke (with quinoa, pickled vegetables and Raoul’s dressing), the bigeye tuna saisi (with avocado, red grapefruit, orange, hearts of palm and  yuzu citronette), and the warm octopus salad (with olives, chick pea puree and wild arugula). We also had an order of pommes frites.

“Saisi” refers to the way the tuna is cooked-seared. “Yuzu” is an East Asian citrus fruit, similar to a grapefruit. It has a distinct aromatic rind.  “Yuzu citronette” is a sauce made with a combination of citrus fruits. It is a light and versatile lemon vinaigrette dressing that is often served over salads and steamed vegetables

The subtlety of the lightly cooked tuna was offset by the slightly acidic citrus of the yuzu citronette. The red grapefruit was sliced micro thin, and was rich red. The primary red color of the grapefruit contrasted with the secondary green color of the avocado. The orange added subtle citrus notes. The colors and the flavors were artful.

The artichoke was firm and flavorful. The quinoa was over cooked and lack clarity, structure and flavor. We could not define the ingredients of the Raoul’s dressing, but it was a good compliment to the artichoke.

Octopus tends to have the flavor, texture and chewiness of greasy rubber bands. This octopus salad was excellent. The arugula was fresh and the olives added salty accents to the octopus and the chick pea puree.

Our plats principaux was the organic road chicken (with roast green onion, bell pepper, andouille and jambalaya risotto). It was a large and dense half-chicken. The skin was crispy and salty and deep brown. The chicken was moist. It was lightly flavored from the skin and the salt brine. The risotto was an over-cooked flavorless, brown mass. It reminded me of the sticky mucilage you got in grade school and used to paste together colored sheets of construction paper as you played at being Henri Matisse.

We also had the crispy local skate (with pickled vegetables, wild arugula and gribiche). The fish was delicate, light and flavorful. The vegetables were a perfect compliment to the fish. The watermelon radish was paper thin, and added a sour accent to the fish. An excellent dish.

Gribiche is a mayonnaise-style cold egg sauce in the French cuisine, made by emulsifying hard-boiled egg yolks and mustard with a neutral oil like canola or grapeseed. The sauce is finished with chopped pickled cucumbers, capers, parsley, chervil and tarragon.

Our wine selection was the Chateau Du Mayne Graves Rouge 2011. It is a blend of 55% cabernet-sauvignon and merlot. The wine presented a bright and deep color. The nose offered a beautiful aromatic purity with fruity, blackcurrant and raspberry notes. It was as a very pleasant wine and we ordered a second bottle, which we rarely do. We knew that we would pay the price the next day but sometimes it is a fair trade.

We shared a scoop of chocolate ice cream. We were tempted by the goat cheesecake (with honey parfait and crushed pistachios). Raoul’s desert menu is modest and has traditional dishes such as creme brulee, profiteroles, puddings and cake.

Our standard for best chocolate ice cream in New York is Odeon. Raoul’s  was intense, creamy, opulent chocolate. This ice cream was so excellent that we thought it came from Odeon. We inquired but we were told that they buy it from il laboratorio del gelato. The ice cream laboratory is located at 188 Ludlow Street.

The music was a journey. At the beginning of the evening the volume level was low but we could hear disco, then pop, then 1970’s rock (Fleetwood Mac) and then Talking Heads and New Wave. The volume went up, the hour got late, the buzz and energy became electric and we danced out of Raoul’s to the beat of “Tainted Love.” We are happy and we loved it and we will be back.


Service: 8 (Good service even though the staff was quite busy)

Archetype: 7 (Chalkboard menus, classic bistro dishes, waiters in black and white, booths, old tables and chairs and quirky art)

Food: 7 (Recommend the psychedelic steak au poivre and the chicken. Some say the burger is the best in the world, and the asparagus and frisee salad has been on the menu since the beginning. Mains were good but sides tended to fail.)

Energy: 9 (Very high energy and buzzy, get a booth along the wall in the back dining room where you can hold a conversation and enjoy the party. Authentic history and you can feel it.)


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The ten elements of the bistro Archetype:______

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Raoul’s History



Raoul’s Reviews




il laboratorio del gelato




Soft Cell and Tainted Love