Some how my emails have been dominated by sites like Groupon, OurDeal, LivingSocial Deals and others of similar ilk offering quite extraordinary discount vouchers for meals, usually two courses and wine, at quite reasonable restaurants. Hard to believe in fact and I wondered if, when it came to making the booking the restaurants would have no more room for voucher holders, like frequent flyers where you have to book a year ahead or you can't get on the plane.
We decided to try them out and took a $49 voucher for two entrees, two mains and a bottle of wine, value approximately $130. Fiorini, not too far away was the lucky or perhaps unlucky restaurant we chose. It's a very friendly place at 470 Toorak Rd. They have a bar at one end of the room and there is an additional space upstairs for parties. They had plenty of clients coming in from the street and it was close to full all the time. As well as their modest printed menu there is a blackboard advertising the day's specials.We started with a couple of pasta entrees. Penne with a mushroom and cheese sauce (Panna and funghi) and an aioli spaghetti. Very good sized serves and flavoursome too. For mains I had an eye fillet, which looked like something else, and a salad. It seems that Mauritzo, the chef had flattened the fillet, which did nothing to improve it and made it impossible to have it warm blue, as I wanted it. It was also not the meltingly tender experience that one sometimes get with an excellent piece of meat. Sandra had prawns with an outstanding cream sauce which was good enough to come back for, with a dish of mixed very well cooked vegetables. Quite excellent except for the veggies!. We paid an extra $12.50 for a berry dessert which was pleasant but dominated by strawberries which were not very tasty, the sort that look good in the supermarket but never quite meet your expectations. The meal came with very small, hard to resist, crusty, obviously house made, rolls. They served us a bottle of quite reasonable Willowglen cabernet merlot.I was curious about this deal because it is a tremendous bargain for the dinner so I approached Maria, the lovely lady who was running the restaurant. We will not be doing this again she said. They promised we would have people coming through the doors and we certainly did, more than 200 already! So what did they pay the voucher selling promoter? Twenty of the $49 I paid went to the promoter leaving Fiorini's with a food and wine cost which must have left them severely out of pocket. Ultimately I don't like this situation. Not only does it cost the restaurant far too much but it also takes business away from other restaurants that people may have gone to. Worse still it encourages a sort of predatory behaviour in a certain group of patrons who look for bargains regardless of what the longer term effects might be.
I wish Fiorini's well and almost feel duty bound to return for another meal at the normal price. I'm sure we will enjoy it and the only hesitation is because there are so many other places to go to.
Monday, October 31, 2011
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