1) Scouting for new places to dine on UrbanDaddy
Sunday night, I finally got the chance to catch up with UrbanDaddy's Chicago article on “The Weekender”. Since its blurb about Benny’s Chop House, I’ve been dreaming about a fine cut of steak. Time to save up.
2) “Chalkboard” restaurant deal
Bacon Ice Cream at Chalkboard
The $50 five-course deal, which includes wine pairings, at this snug North Center boîte is undoubtedly a good one. But after your tuna-sashimi spring rolls and roasted halibut with citrus marmalade comes the real excitement: housemade bacon ice cream. Pork desserts always make you squeal.
Available through May 9, Chalkboard, 4343 N Lincoln Ave, 773-477-7144
This sound like a pretty good deal for fine-dining in Chicago, especially when it includes wine-pairing. I went onto their website to peruse their menu further. Adventurous dessert lovers will salivate over “Spiced chocolate pot au creme and vanilla ice cream" and "Organic strawberries with lavender yogurt, champagne battered pound cake and black pepper”. They also offer afternoon tea for $19.
As I started to fall in love with their concept of a constantly changing menu scribbled on a wall-sized chalkboard and professionally taken photographs of food, I sought the advice of yelpers. Good food, friendly service and elegant decor - “casual but nice,” overall rating of 3.5/5.
Discovery Critique of Restaurant.com
A reviewer on yelp mentioned using a $25 coupon from restaurant.com. Since I’m obsessed with Groupon and Gilt, I signed up to find out what that’s all about. The website looks old-school and isn’t the most intuitive to navigate. No wonder, the company has been around since 1999.
The concept is $25 value coupons for $10 or less from participating restaurants, minimum spending required. If you buy services from their partners, such as Netflix and Apple, you can get a free $25 coupon. These tactics seem restrictive and outdated compared to Groupon. Plus, doesn’t this seem like too much effort for personal use?
Its gift cards and certificates are pretty attractive but still annoying to use. Pros: they never expire and go up to 60% off. Notable Chicago area restaurants include Hot Chocolate, Quartino (temporarily out of stock), Geja’s Cafe, one sixtyblue, the Drawing Room at Le Passage, and the aforementioned Chalkboard. However, the recipient has to take the extra step of redeeming restaurant-specific certificates of usually $25 each. You’ll also have to self-manage your online account to keep track of certificates used, which can get bothersome, thus you may end up buying less.
Its Dinner of the Month may be a better gimmick. Every month, a $25 coupon is emailed to the recipient. Three, six and twelve month options are available, all 60% off.
Overall, the system is a bit too complex to navigate. There are too many options and rules, some of which are not obvious (read the terms). As a business model, there’s no incentive to get you to revisit the site unless you’re looking for a specific restaurant, and there’s no wow-factor to get you hyped up to tell all your friends.
Now, I’m off to dream about another discounted cup of Hot Chocolate.