Gilt Taste: Trick or Treat?

Ruth Reichl's new site is gorgeous, but offers few discounts

Gilt Groupe, the New York-based online discount retailer, has built itself up to an estimated $1 billion valuation by selling designer clothing and luxury travel deals to subscribers. On Wednesday, it added “artisanal hard-to-find foods” to the mix, with Gilt Taste.

“This is a luxury brand,” editorial adviser Ruth Reichl, the former Gourmet editor and New York Times restaurant critic, told the Times.

Indeed it is. On the site’s meat market, one can select two eight-ounce gold label tenderloin filets from eastern Idaho’s Snake River Farms for $199.00. American Paddlefish California Caviar goes for $222.00. The site also sells cheeses, truffle oils, chocolates, mushrooms, and so on. But unlike Gilt and Jetsetter, the travel vertical, Taste is open to everyone and sells most of its items at full price.

Taste is also a culinary magazine, with articles from food writers and chefs. But one of the best parts about it—and this is true of Gilt Groupe’s clothing and travel sites as well—is that it looks so damn good. Gilt Taste might be some of the best food porn on the Net.

“We'll be trying to stimulate you with gorgeous photographs and keep you informed on everything that’s going on in the world of food,” Reichl wrote in her first letter on the site. “Food people are always hungry for new experiences, open to new tastes, and constantly looking for more seductive ways to feed their friends.”

As a business plan, Taste has its skeptics, especially because it lacks the discount element. “It’s not really clear on Gilt Taste if I’m getting a deal on some of these artisan products,” Leena Rao of TechCrunch wrote.