The Mail Order Sandwich Edition

On Raoul's, scarcity, and culinary delights

Colin here. The bar burger at Raoul’s in Soho is the stuff of legend. Only 12 of them are made every evening, and you have to sit at the bar to get them. Meaning, you’d best get there at 5:30, and it’s likely easier to be a solo eater. 

Esquire explains:

Powered by a potent, piquant au poivre sauce, a separate au poivre mayonnaise, a sweet, brisket-heavy LaFrieda blend, topped with a little yarmulke of triple-cream St. Andre cheese, wilted watercress, cornichons, and served on the most delicate of challah buns...It comes with a little cup of au poivre sauce — the real au poivre sauce, with heavy cream and cognac — and you are invited to dip the burger in it as you go.

Photo: Eater’s Josh Ozersky

Most of my experiences at Raoul’s are much later in the evening, with dark lighting, perfect waiters, and a precarious spiral staircase to the bathroom—but I’ve had this burger on-premises once and it lives up to the hype. It is thoughtfully manufactured scarcity from the restaurant: the Birkin of burgers. And by not making it readily available, it doesn’t overwhelm the other offerings on the menu. The team saw what the Black Label burger did at Minetta Tavern. “...It just takes over,” said executive chef David Honeysett. A hyped menu item can overpower the narrative.

Why is this interesting? 

There’s something to be said for paying your dues for something rare and delectable. Want to be served by Jiro in Tokyo? You gotta do the legwork to get the rez and bring along some yen as you can’t use the Amex. There’s a bit of hard-earned pride that comes with checking off these rarified elements of culinary pleasure.

So it was interesting, then, that I decided to try ordering the Raoul’s bar burger from Goldbelly. The service takes the classics from a variety of restaurants and makes them available to the masses. WITI hospitality idol Danny Meyer is an investor, and they have a wide range of famous restaurants across the US hawking their cult dishes. I entered with skepticism. Other friends shared my furrowed brow: “I was skeptical about a mail-order sandwich, but the Zingerman’s Reuben cured me of my suspicions.” said my pal Brady. I’m pleased to say the burgers were a hit: I ordered them while visiting my parents and they basically got a standing ovation. Sure, the patina and vibe of the restaurant were missing from the equation, but they were able to get a pretty great approximation of the meal without the ticket to New York and attendant hustle to belly up to the bar. In a world of COVID-era relocations and yearning for food, the business makes a ton of sense. You don’t even pay that much more of a premium: the burger at the restaurant is $19 pre-tip. This one is 99 for 4. Worth a shot if you’re feeling homesick for New York, or you just want to try one of the better burgers in America. (CJN)

Chart of the day:

From a good FT piece on the shift to electric: Electric vehicles: the revolution is finally here. (NRB)

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The delicious Thai food you ordered is part of a bigger economic story. App happy eaters are part of a growing global market for food delivery—which interestingly now registers at $150 billion, more than triple its 2017 value. See how your small order fits into the bigger picture with a new article on the trends and opportunities in this fast-growing market.

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Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN)

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