Why Groupon needs to go away
I am the first one to admit that I was on the Groupon bandwagon. I loved the idea of getting something for a fraction of the cost.
At first, Groupon was that place where you could find out about something you had never heard about before. In fact, my first purchase on Groupon was a wine tasting. I was extremely excited that I would be the type of person that would go to a wine tasting and that I was the first of my friends to do something like this.
The funny part of all of this was that I never ended up using the Groupon.
I think I liked the idea of it more than actually using it.
But, now I have fallen off the bandwagon. After Groupon started sending daily emails with promotions I would never be interested in, learning about how they treat the businesses that use it, and the restrictions, I wish that Groupon would just go away.
Before Groupon would send one deal a day. Today I receive 3 emails and one was for electronic cigarettes. I don’t smoke. There is nothing novel about the deals that they have and they are not very local any longer.
Why aren’t they local? Because the businesses that have used the service usually end up worse off than they were before. I was told by a business owner that they made only about 25%. So, if it was a coupon for a restaurant worth $40 that you buy for $20 the restaurant only makes $10.
This makes places have to put restrictions on the deals. Cannot be used on happy hour, drinks, tips, or they can only be used for specific items.
Then things like this happen…
I was out to dinner on a Friday night when a group of people who were seated by me attempted to use a Groupon. This Groupon was actually for the restaurant that used to be in the place of this restaurant that closed but, this restaurant said it would accept the coupon anyway because they didn’t want the people to be out of their money.
The only problem was that these people ordered off the happy hour menu.
Does anyone really think that you should be able to use a Groupon on top of really great happy hour prices?
What proceeds to happen was the customers throws a fit. It was an epic fit that basically ruined the meals of everyone around them. This is exactly why restrictions on coupons hurt the businesses that use them.
People don’t read the restrictions and then blame the businesses.
The staff at the restaurant handled it in the best way possible. Apologizing about the mix up but standing firm that they would not accept the coupon because of the restriction. The fit went on for about 20 more minutes where the customers continued to try and argue with the staff member to get them to back down. All the while yelling about how they would never come back here, that they were going to give them horrible reviews, and tell everyone they know never to come here.
I wished so deeply in my heart that the staff member could say, ” yeah, we think it would be best if you never come back here again too.”
I also hope they are reading this and realize how they were completely inappropriate.
All of us who want to eat great food and are willing to pay for it want coupons with restrictions to go away for good. Or I beg of you, if you are going to use a coupon of any kind don’t argue about the restrictions.
because Groupons just need to go away.
What do you think? Do you use Groupon’s frequently and want them to stay? If you want them to go, why?
Punch Pizza on Grand Avenue in Saint Paul
What is better than a warm pizza on a cold day?
This was my first ever trip to Punch and I was not disappointed. Not only did it hit the spot but it was affordable as well.
On a side note, Punch Pizza set its own minimum wage at $10 an hour to provide staff with a higher wage to help gain loyal employees and keep them around. Kudos to local restaurants that are paying their employees well.
As someone who is a fan of neapolitan pizza I had a feeling that I would love Punch since they cook each of their pizzas in an 800 degree oven. I was right, the perfect chewy dough was just what I love about neapolitan pizza.
I had the basic margarita pizza which was very tasty. It is a simple but elegant pizza and the quality ingredients that are used make it stand out. I would order this again any day. But, it also made me want to try one of the more adventerous combinations.
They also have salads which I would recommend. I had the italian chopped salad which was very fresh and complemented the pizza well. I cannot wait to try the other salads. Sometimes at pizza restaurants salads are an afterthought. I think that the Punch salads could stand on their own. Although, I don’t think I would be able to go in there and not order a pizza too.
As mentioned above it was very affordable. My lunch bill for two people came to only about 20 dollars. I felt like I had a very high quality meal that I would have expected would cost much more than that.
My suggestion is to get a pizza and a salad to share. Don’t forget a local brew or glass of wine. If you are still hungry, order another.
because pizza warms the heart.
What are your favorite pizza places in the Twin Cities? What is your favorite item on the Punch menu?
Isles Bun and Coffee
Tucked into a small spot in Uptown, Isles Bun is one of my favorite places to grab a bite for breakfast.
They have the most delicious buns! You cannot go wrong with any of their variations. And don’t forget the cream cheese frosting that they keep on the counter.
For what they lack in space, they make up for with how wonderful everything is. Even the coffee is excellent. If you are coming there on a weekend in the winter be prepared to take your bun to-go since space is so limited. During the summer they have outdoor seating.
If you want to be a hit at your next company breakfast, order buns from Isles. They have an order form on their website and you will be everyones favorite co-worker.
Because on a weekend, a sweet bun and a coffee can relax even the most stressed out person.
Figlio: West End
This was quite possibly the worst happy hour food I have had in awhile. I was wondering why Rojo in the West End was packed while Figlio was mostly empty.
Now, I understand.
This place will not be open for much longer unless the food standards change dramatically.
Firstly, let me start out by saying that the space is beautiful. There is a large dining room and a nice bar area. Secondly, the service was great. They went out of their way to make sure that the guests were happy.
The only thing missing is good food.
The biggest disappointment of the night was the flatbread. I remember back when Figlio was in Uptown the flat bread and pizzas were all handmade with real dough and then cooked in a brick oven. You know having an open kitchen where you make the flat breads only goes well for you when you actually make the flat bread. Watching the ‘chef’ take out a pre-made hard flatbread out of a plastic package sealed it for me. Not to mention how the toppings were handled. Yuck.
Big mistake ordering the porchetta bruschetta and sliders. Same thing different bread. Both not great flavor wise.
The only two things that I liked were the fries and wings. Holy moly, the fries are great. Perfectly cooked and great with the béarnaise sauce. The wings were seasoned very well but I would have liked to have different sauce with it. The mustard and BBQ sauce did not do it for me. It was weird that I liked those things the best and neither of them were Italian which is most of the menu at Figlio.
My suggestions are to make your own dough and make quality flat bread and to take one or both of the Porchetta items off your happy hour menu. Make a new dish. Go back to basics and serve high quality real food even for happy hour. There are so many people like me rooting for Figilo from Uptown to be reborn. This is not quite it.
because pre-made is unacceptable
What was your experience here? Should I give it another try?
A Foodie Halloween – Acqua Forest Lake
So, I am not sure what you are doing on Halloween but this sounds like a lot of fun. Acqua in Forest Lake is having a ‘night of the living fed’ dinner party.
Acqua just opened its second location in Forest Lake. You may remember the original location that is on White Bear Lake near Tally’s. I haven’t been to Forest Lake yet, but the food in White Bear Lake is amazing. I had a honeydew gazpacho there once that made me look at gazpacho in a new light.
This Halloween party is limited to 200 guests and costs $100. This includes a five course dinner, drinks, a costume contest and raffle prizes.The dinner includes a cocktail hour with passed hors d’oeuvres, salad with fried pork belly, roasted butternut squash soup, scallops, beef tenderloin and pumpkin tiramisu. Drinks include, wine, beer, and select cocktails.
It sounds really great but I hope they know how to serve 200 people at one time. I think that will be quite the challenge. This is their first time trying an event like this, so it will be interesting to find out how it goes. If it goes well, this would be a great event to have each year.
They are giving out some big prizes. The prizes for the costume contest are $1,000 gift card, $250 dollar gift card, and a $100 gift card. It would be a great way to treat your family to a wonderful meal. Also, they are not stopping there, they are also giving out two raffle prizes, one is a dinner for ten including wine pairings prepared at your home. The other is a limo, wine tasting, and dinner for eight at one of the restaurants. Plus, chances are good since they limited the dinner to 200 people.
You can sign up to receive weekly emails from Acqua that tells you about the specials and events like this one on their website.
If you want to attend you can call Acqua Forest Lake at: 651-464-6130.
because it is better than eating all of that candy.
Don’t worry, I am not affiliated with Acqua in any way. I got an email from them and I thought I would share this fun event with people who love food.
What food inspires you?
Today is dreary, yesterday I noticed all of the restaurant patios have been taken down, and we are now back to the time of leaving for work when it is dark and coming home when it is dark.
When this transition happens each year I feel my body want to go into hibernation. I force myself to make plans to accomplish something when I get off of work and ultimately they never happen. Currently, I have been organizing my recipes for three weeks.
I know I am not the only one who feels this way.
One thing I actually accomplish when I feel this way is making really good comfort foods. This includes thick soups, chili, and any type of squash I can get my hands on. Slow cooking foods and the smell that comes from them is rewarding. During the fall this is the type of food that inspires me.
I have been to the Cheeky Monkey in Saint Paul twice recently because their soup is exactly what fall tastes like. Don’t worry I will include them in a future post. Those soups have exactly what I need to warm my bones.
What other restaurants around the Twin Cities are making really good comfort foods? What foods inspire you when we lose our daylight time?
because sometimes I need to try something new.
World Street Kitchen: Uptown
Recently named one of the Top 50 New Restaurants by Bon Appetit, World Street Kitchen is truly worthy of this title. Minnesota has not seen a restaurant like this before. Yes, they do sell 40 ounce bottles of Miller High Life.
There are many things that I appreciate about this restaurant such as ample parking on the side of the building, vegetarian options, and spice. It is really nice to have a place that doesn’t serve the same stuff as everyone else.
That being said, most everything on the menu is pretty spicy for those of us with Mid-Western taste buds. This is not a bad thing, I really like it. But, I feel as though people should be warned that most of the food is more spicy than what you can find at other restaurants.
Here are some of the highlights:
The Bangkok Burrito: I have tried the Red Curry Burrito. It is spicy, creamy, and flavorful. If you ever need to get your sinuses cleared out this will do it. Watch out Chipotle, this is going to be the new burrito roaming the streets.
Plate O’ Dips: As a fan of Saffron, I knew that the dips were going to live up to my expectations and they did. I would come here just to get this dish with pita. The hummus is so creamy.
YumYum Rice Bowl: The short rib beef bowl was exactly why you come back to this restaurant over and over. That secret sauce and soft cooked egg make this dish one of the highlights of the menu. Just look at it.
Jerk Beef Tacos: Meh, these were just okay compared to everything else that I tried. One of my tacos had a huge chunk of fat in it that was cubed. After having that surprise when I chomped down on it I didn’t care to eat anymore.
Next time I want to try the MFC Biscuit Sandwich and a dessert. I have heard from multiple people that both are amazing.
I should also note that this is a get up and order yourself place. There are no servers and it has more of a laid back vibe. I was a bit disappointed in the service that I got from the person I ordered from. I said specifically that it was my first time here and that I was not sure what was good. She looked at me annoyed that I was taking too much time to order. Remember you are a new restaurant which means that you might need to explain some of the menu to your new guests.
Because any place that serves forties is cool in my book.
Burger Jones Uptown
Sometimes, I feel like all I need is a burger. Burger Jones in Uptown is a great way to fill that need.
This place is very family friendly and has a nice outdoor patio that looks out on lake Calhoun. It also has an extensive menu with all different kinds of burgers, starters, salads, and shakes.
I would definitely come here again with a burger loving group. This place can cater to a larger group which makes it a good choice for group gatherings.
I was a bit disappointed with my burger choice. Only because it was clearly on a sandwich thin and it was horrible. It tasted exactly like a sandwich thin that you can get out of a package at Target. I think a better choice of bread for the gyro burger would be advisable.
Otherwise, the burger was good. I liked the lamb burger and the sauce. But, I would never order it again because of the bread.
I also tried the bison burger which I liked much more than the gyro burger. The bison burger is topped with gruyere cheese and red onion marmalade.
It was flavorful and the red onion really made the burger pop.
Order a side of the sweet potato fries and chipotle aioli because they are fantastic. I think I would go back just to eat the fries again with a shake.
because sometimes you just need a burger
What other burgers have you tried from Burger Jones? What do I need to try next time?
New Location: Spill The Wine Uptown
Spill The Wine Bar and Table may have changed locations but it is still just as great as before. Now located on Lake and Bryant in a new bigger location with lots of light, Spill The Wine is still one of those places that I love to go.
Okay, they could do without the hokey mason jar glasses but beyond that I recently had a great experience there.
One huge positive is the wonderful service. It isn’t uppity or pompous even though the food is upscale. They treat you with respect and are attentive.
The servers know their stuff and can speak to every item on both the food menu and the drink menu. They can suggest and I would highly recommend going with one of their suggestions. Our server, Carli, recommended a wine flight and a certain dish that was a huge hit. The people dining with me that night will definitely be back because of the suggestions.
They also help you order the correct amount of food. They have a mostly small plates menu which is meant to be shared, Minnesotans don’t really like to share. However, they do a good enough job of explaining how to eat this way that even the most unlikely people buy into the sharing.
These dishes were some of the highlights from my meal:
The lamb sausage and polenta. Holy moly, this is a must order. The sausage is made in-house and the polenta is nice and creamy. I could eat this every day and will be coming back to have this again. They should start selling the lamb sausage in local food markets.
I enjoyed the Lap Cheong Fried Rice, it was a larger dish that everyone at the table got enough of to eat. My only wish was that the egg was a tiny bit more runny.
A simple thing like bruschetta can taste very good. I really liked the two varieties served especially the olive tapenade. It was a great dish to break up some of the other ones.
The beet and goat cheese salad. This is fairly good but was very small. I am not sure if I would order it again since it was not enough to share with four people. I want more!
The fried blue cheese stuffed olives. A must order. These are fairly unique and I haven’t had anything quite like this before. They come out quickly and are a great little bite before the meal.
The Simi Estate wine flight. I highly suggest that when you go here, get a wine flight. They are a great way to try new wines and get a fairly good deal. They say you only get about 1.5 glasses but I would say it is more around 2. Great wines at a great value.
Finish the night with dessert, the tres leches cake is delightful. The fresh lime zest really added a nice touch and it was the perfect amount to share with four people.
I had no idea they did brunch until I was perusing their website. Huckleberry mason jar mimosas and some patatas sounds amazing. I would, however, suggest to Spill The Wine that they have so many of these items on their regular dinner menu that they need to expand the brunch menu. I want to see some new and fun stuff that is a bit different from your regular dinner menu items that you are experimenting with, please.
because sharing is caring
What are your favorite items from the Spill The Wine menu?