Restaurant discount deals are a dime a dozen. But do diners get a good deal, or a dud? The Food Sage takes a look at the ‘special’ treatment that discount diners receive.
Discount diners get the dregs. If a special deal comes with a complimentary glass of wine you can bet your Le Creusset stockpot that it’ll be the remnants of a bottle that was opened to serve wine by the glass several nights ago; dregs that were en route to the kitchen to deglaze a sticky pan or fuel a flambé before you came along. It may be perfectly quaffable, but the ethics behind the practice are questionable.
There’s no better way to bring out a chef’s inner scrooge than to take them an order from a discount scoffer. They’ll scrimp on the chips, downsize the protein, and pare back the slice of cake until it’s only a bite more than a kid-sized portion. You may find yourself having to order more, to get your fill. (See Now the up-sell)
Nobody likes a hanger-on, especially a cheapskate one, at that. The discount dining etiquette is to get in and get out quickly, so the restaurant can turn over enough tables to make some money from this otherwise dead-loss of a deal. The wait staff will whisk away your plate and serve your next course while you’re still masticating on that last mouthful and the bill will be dutifully delivered without the usual half-hour delay. You’ll be out the door before you’ve even had time to request a toothpick.
Now the up-sell
You may think you’ve scored a canny deal, but the floor staff are far cannier than you. They’ve been trained in the fine art of up-selling, which discount deals depend on to be profitable. They’ll use their guile, gumption and good looks to persuade you to buy an extra side dish, a second glass of wine, or an over-priced dessert. You might easily be swayed if your meal-deal portion was small, which will ratchet up your bill to a more chef-friendly real-meal size.
Expect the Oliver Twist treatment if you ask for more. Request more bread, more butter, more sauce and the Maitre ‘D won’t quite aim a blow at your head with a ladle, but you’ll probably be made to like a scandalous, cheap-skate scoundrel, which of course you are.
Waste not, want not
Got withering veggies, dairy products on the turn, and meat past its best in your fridge? Then you can bet your bottom dollar chefs do to. And they’re likely to offload this less-than-fresh stash on unsuspecting diners at discount deal time.
Of course not all restaurant discount deals are duds. There are good buys, and bad. A deal might offer a foot in the door of an up-market restaurant that you couldn’t otherwise afford. In this age of super-sized meals, you may be happy to pay less, to eat less, and a speed-dining scenario may suit your social or work-day needs.
But as the old adage goes ‘you get what you pay for’. So don’t be surprised if your discount deal turns out to be a disappointing, bite-sized, cheapskate meal.
What’s your experience of discount deals?