Thursday, August 18, 2011

Tips to Happy Food Travels--#8:

I want to clarify that is not sponsoring me and has no steak in this post.  So, when I say they are one of my favorite steps in restaurant research, you know I am not just blowing smoke up your rump roast. sells gift certificates at a discount.  A lot of new restaurants do it to promote themselves and established places use it to get new business.  You buy the gift certificate and it works like a discount.
The Cons: PLEASE READ THE CERTIFICATE STIPULATIONS.  Usually, to use a $25 gift certificate, you have to at least spend $35 to $40 to $50 dollars.  Also, restaurants may specify “for dinner only” or certain nights of the week. 
The Pros: Once you get on’s email list, they are almost always sending out promotional codes for you to get gift certificate at an even greater discount.  Because of this, I usually get $25 certificates for $2 or $3, and $50 certificates for $8.  I used this in Vegas to eat at Hubert Keller’s restaurant, Fleur, (write-up coming soon) and here is how it panned out . . .
I went to Fleur with a $50 certificate.  The gift certificate has the stipulations that I  had to spend $100 at the restaurant with a required 18% gratuity (which I wholeheartedly support since waiters and waitresses very often get slighted when people use gift certificates).  
With a $50 certificate, the meal came to $126.10 (subtotal=$100; gratuity=$18; and tax=$8.10).  With redeeming the gift certificate, the meal ended up costing $76.10, plus the $8 I spent on the gift certificate itself.  Not bad for 6 not-so-small small plates and two desserts from a chef who was on Top Chef Masters, hosted a PBS series, and has won a couple James Beard awards.
For an example of how this works out on a smaller level, Dennis and I once ate a $45 (with tax and tip) meal at an Ethiopian place for $22. 

Use them to travel, use them to try new places, and use them to be adventurous.  At $2 a pop, they are great certificates to have around.  
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