I’ve never been one to clip coupons, even back in the day when I lived in a studio apartment and had to save for three months to buy my first microwave oven. Ditto for waking up early for day after Thanksgiving sales and being the seventh caller to radio stations for concert tickets. And when my friends and co-workers would swap stories about the daily deals they had bought on Groupon, I had no interest in signing up.
But when I saw that Dine About Town was returning this year, my mouth started watering. During the two short weeks of Dine About Town, the finest San Francisco restaurants offer prix fixe meals at a bargain $17.95 for a two-course lunch and $34.95 for a three-course dinner. Over 100 restaurants are participating this year, including Michelin-starred Campton Place, a personal favorite. It was worth the train ride to the city.
I love top-tier restaurants for their service. Our waiter Paul was a “dining concierge” with insider information for a customized dining experience. “Don’t get the salad, you can have that at home. The soup is divine,” he said. “If you’re allergic to mushrooms, you can still have the soup since they go in at the end. But skip the short ribs; the glacé is made with mushrooms. Have the sea bass.” He also selected the wine flight we split: a white with a crisp crabapple nose for the soup course, and a somewhat oaky chardonnay for the sea bass.
Dick didn’t need any help selecting dessert, a chocolate cake with a scoop of raspberry sorbet. I was lucky to get a spoonful. Total bill was $73 before tip, which was a fat one per Paul’s excellent guidance. Not a cheap meal, but significantly less than what we’ve spent on bike dates at restaurants of a lower caliber.
We’ve also found deals closer to home, like a Groupon-style deal for Taverna Bistro that popped up when I was looking for a restaurant on Yelp last week: $12 for a $20 credit at the restaurant. The restaurant looked interesting anyway and I like Murphy Avenue, a quaint single block that Sunnyvale preserved when the city replaced its historic downtown with a shopping mall in the 1970s.
As the Yelp reviews indicated, the meal was quite good. And the deal was easy to redeem by giving the waitress the code from the Yelp app on my iPhone. So easy, if fact, that I’m now signed up for Groupon and LivingSocial. We’ll see where that takes us next.
Are you a deal hound or is it too much to deal with? Is there a particular type of deal you just can’t pass up?
About Bike Date Friday: Since September 2010, my husband and I have had a standing date every Friday night. We eat at a different place every week and arrive by bike. There’s no better way to end the work week.