Money at 30: Goldbelly Review
If you ask anyone that knows me, they’ll tell you that I am no foodie. Heck, I don’t even like the word “foodie.” Yet, even with how basic I am when it comes to food, I still know when something is good and especially know when something is special. That’s why I’ve been interested in the service Goldbelly — which allows you to order various specialties from all around the country — for some time. Unfortunately, the prices found on the site kept me away. Well, that was until a recent Amex Offer allowed me to score a $50 statement credit on my order of $100 or more, thus allowing me to find give Goldbelly a shot.
So, how was my Goldbelly experience and is it worth the price after all? Let’s take a closer look at the service, how it works, and what I thought of my meals.
What is Goldbelly and How Does it Work?
The basics of Goldbelly
Goldbelly allows diners across the country to enjoy some of the most iconic culinary treats found throughout the United States. On the site, you’ll find restaurants and chefs shipping out their specialties in either a ready-to-consume format or giving customers everything they’ll need to prepare the dish at home. Not only does it enable food-lovers to have the items they crave delivered to their doors but could also give them the opportunity to support small businesses during these challenging times (I swear I wrote this and not Goldbelly’s marketing team).
As I mentioned, Goldbelly offers an array of food options. Some of the options I’ve seen mentioned most frequently include cheesesteaks from Pat’s, deep dish pizzas from Lou Malnati’s, BBQ from Joe’s KC, cakes from Duff’s, and many, many more. Each of these items is sold in select quantities or combos and may have some additional customization options. For example, the aforementioned cheesesteaks are available in either a four, eight, or 12 pack and can be customized to include either Cheese Whiz, American, or Provolone (and the option to get “wit” or “wit-out” onions). Also note that each item will share what’s included, how the item will ship, how to store the items once they arrive, and what you’ll need to do in order to prepare and serve each dish.
Cost and Shipping
When you first look on Goldbelly, you may be a bit taken aback by the prices. Sure, those cheesesteaks look amazing — but $99 for four of them?! This is a common price point on Goldbelly and is one of the reasons I had previously avoided the site prior to receiving my Amex Offer.
While many items are undeniably expensive, it’s important to note that, in many cases, these prices also include shipping. This is actually an important point since, in order to ensure freshness, items are typically shipped overnight and may even need to utilize ice packs or other devices. Therefore, while the cost isn’t broken out, I’d suspect that shipping makes up a significant percentage of the final cost. Meanwhile, as you do shop on Goldbelly, be sure to pay attention to whether or not the items do include shipping as some (mostly cheaper ones) do not.
My Goldbelly Experience
What I ordered
After perusing Goldbelly, I ended up deciding on two items to include in my initial order: bacon cheese burgers from Grammercy Tavern and crumb cake from B&W Bakery. My burgers came in a four pack — that included the patties, cheese, bacon, and buns — for $99 while the crumb cake was a single 9″x7″ sheet for $39. Thankfully, both items had shipping included.
When placing my order, I noticed that, while the burgers would arrive only a couple of days later, the crumb cake wouldn’t arrive for two weeks. Mind you, this isn’t because it would be in transit for two weeks (both were overnighted, as we’ll get to) but because, from my understanding, each restaurant has a capacity limit for how much they can ship out in a day. This actually makes a ton of sense and I wasn’t bothered by the delay — especially since I was informed of the time table well before I even placed the order. On that note, as I’m writing this review, I noticed that Goldbelly currently has a special filter option to show which items will arrive before the Super Bowl. Honestly, this level of logistical forethought is pretty impressive and made me a fan before my items even arrived.
The day before each of my orders were to arrive, I was provided with the tracking numbers. Interestingly, it even showed the hub that the items would be transiting through on their way from New York and New Jersey, respectively. Sure enough, when I woke up the morning(s) of, I could see that my deliveries had arrived in Springfield and were on their way to me. It was almost like magic.
As I mentioned, my Gramercy Tavern burgers were the first Goldbelly items we got to try. Inside the box was an insulated bag, containing an ice pack along with patties, bacon, cheese, and sauce. There was also a sheet with cooking instructions — although, to be honest, these amounted to “cook the burger and bacon, toast the bun, melt the cheese.” We ended up putting all of the ingredients in the fridge, going on to prepare two of the burgers for that night and freezing the other two for a week.
Moving onto the crumb cake, it’s shipping was a bit more simple. While it also had an insulated bag, inside of it was simply a white waxy paper bag containing the cake. Obviously this makes sense seeing as the cake comes ready-to-eat while the the meat is, well, not quite ready.
It’s really hard to screw up a cheeseburger — so of course Gramercy (and my lovely wife who cooked them up) did not. The part chuck, part brisket patty had a delicious flavor, as did the belly-cut bacon, and cheddar cheese. That said, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a bit disappointed in just how small the slices of cheese ended up being. Somewhat ironically, perhaps my favorite part of the burger was actually the bun, which really took the entire experience to a new level for me. Also, while I opted to leave my burger plain and dry per usual, my wife did also enjoy the signature smoked onion aioli that was included. Overall, if money were no object, I’d definitely order these again.
As someone who grew up in New Jersey, I’ve been a fiend for crumb cake since a very young age. Although I do love myself an Entenmann’s from the store, the B&W crumb cake was in another class entirely. First, true to it’s “heavy” crumb cake name, this baby was thick (or perhaps “thicc,” as the youths say). Moreover, just looking at it, it seemed to be 97% crumb to just 3% cake. However, when actually eating a slice, that ratio didn’t seem as dramatic and worked out just great. The only downside is that, with only two of us, it’s hard to finish off the cake before it starts to show a bit of age (note: the photo above is only about half of the cake). At the same time, by putting it in the fridge, we were able to preserve it some and it remained delicious all the way through. Like with the burgers, I’d also order this again — but with the caveat that I’d need to be having people over or some other occasion in order to get the most from it.
Since my above reviews were contingent on money being no object, how would I rate these items in a world where money is, indeed, a thing? Well, consider this: at $99 for four, the Gramercy burgers come out to $25 a pop (shipping included). That’s pretty high — until you learn that they usually go for $32 each at the actual Gramercy Tavern! Granted, that’s doesn’t automatically make this a good deal as 1) this version doesn’t include any sides that might come when you order in store and 2) you do need to cook it yourself. Still, for me, it does make me appreciate Goldbelly’s pricing just a bit more.
With that said, between the two items, I think that the burgers were likely the better deal. For as tasty as the crumb cake is, I doubt it goes for anything near $40 in store. In that aspect, I’m thinking that shipping cost to food cost ratio here is quite high. Therefore, in the future, I’ll be sure to look for items in that “sweet spot” of being a decent-enough value per serving such as the burgers.
Final Thoughts on Goldbelly
In my mind, Goldbelly is a pretty ingenius service that fills a real need. At the same time, it’s definitely not something that most people can afford to order from all of the time. Even if (some of ) the prices aren’t as bad as you might think at first blush, that doesn’t make it affordable either.
With that throat-clearing out of the way, I really enjoyed my Goldbelly experience, including the delicious items I ordered. As a result, I plan on ordering at least a couple more times while my Amex Offers is available to me and then hopefully continuing to place orders for future special occasions or events. When I do, I’ll be sure to report back with what items I’ve tried, what I thought, and which picks provide the best value in my opinion. Until then, I say it’s worth giving Goldbelly a closer look and seeing what culinary delights strike your fancy.