Gilt Groupe Launches High-End Grocery. Two Steaks for $180, Anyone?

This may be the ultimate example of putting lipstick on a pig.

Welcome to Gilt Taste, a high-end grocery service launched today by New York-based Gilt Groupe, which is selling products and ingredients that were previously only available to chefs to people living on Main St. Or, more likely, Rodeo Drive.

The service differs from its parent company flash sales site because it is not focused on selling discount items to members. Instead, Gilt Taste is open to anyone and offers items mostly at full price. In both cases, the sites are trying to sell high-end experiences, by focusing on rich photography and well-written prose.

We knew that Gilt Taste was coming, but we had no idea what it was going to look like.

It’s impressive.

For example, two-8 oz. New York Strip Steaks cost $180.* The steaks are described as something available only in “three star Michelin–rated restaurants….Intensely meaty and lushly marbled, wagyu lovers gravitate to this cut for its astonishing balance of flavor and tenderness.”

*Chef not included.

The inventory is not vast, but it offers a mix across seven categories: Meat, Seafood, Cheese & Dairy, Pantry, Sweets, Produce and Equipment.

There are 16 cheese varieties available, the priciest of which is a Stracapra at $40 a pound and the cheapest being the Slava Cremasco at $20 a pound. In the produce section, don’t expect yellow bananas (

This is not your mom and pop grocery.

I don’t think you can even put it in the same category as Safeway or Walmart, which are also experimenting with home delivery, or AmazonFresh, which is a trial being conducted by the giant e-commerce provider in Seattle.

Truthfully, this doesn’t even compare to shopping in person at Whole Foods.

ComScore reports that about 12 percent of Internet users say they have ever bought grocery products online. Among them, 39 percent have bought online in the past month.

But those statistics probably don’t apply either.

In addition to having food for sale, the site also anticipates having a strong content component. Ruth Reichl, the former editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine and a restaurant critic for the New York Times, is editorial advisor.  She will oversee editorial direction and offer advice on what to carry.

“I believe that Gilt Taste is the next generation of food media, giving you everything you love about food in one place: ideas, inspiration, recipes, stories, and the ability to buy the best,” she said in a release. “It’s going to be the food magazine of your dreams.”

But will people buy anything?

In a bold move, Gilt is conducting a survey on its site, asking people what they think of Gilt Taste. So far, two votes have been tallied for “No, waaaay too pricey when you can just hit Whole Foods.” Other options are: “Yes, the products are amazing and I’ll shop” and “Maybe, it’s OK…not somewhere I’ll shop often.”

Another component of the site is that all items will be shipped directly from the source, whether that’s a farm, purveyor or a store.

That reminds me of a scene from “Portlandia,” the IFC show that makes fun of uber-environmentally conscious people living in Portland, Ore. In this scene, two restaurant-goers end up visiting the farm where a chicken was raised before feeling comfortable enough to eat it.

I’m including it here for your enjoyment:

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