Archive | December, 2011

Restaurant Holiday Sales

28 Dec

Restaurants are offering all kinds of deals and special offers to close out the year.

Has anyone else noticed that this year the restaurants are unusually generous with their discounts? The Christmas/Holiday/New Year Season is typically a busy time for restaurants as people are meeting friends for dinner, taking the family out, and holiday parties are in full swing. So with the business more or less guaranteed prices are usually at their regular, meaning no discounts and scarce coupons.

This year seems to be different, everywhere I turn there is some sort of “special offer” going on! Perhaps it’s the economy or perhaps it’s the emergence of deal websites like groupon and livingsocial, but right now you can get pretty good prices on eats at a lot of major chains.

Applebee’s not only has “Sizzling Entrees” (prices as low as $8.99), but also a “2 for $20” entree deal. Chili’s is offering this same deal but they’re calling it  “$20 dinner for 2.” This comes fresh of the heels of their promo, “30 Days of Daily Deals”, a coupon a day for things like a free kids meal or “Chips and Queso” appetizer (with the purchase of an entree.) Even IHOP is advertising “Holiday Hotcakes” for $4.99.  Word to the wise, these flapjackss may be nicely priced but they are heavy in calories and full of sugar. If you’re going to go for them as a holiday splurge, I would split with a friend!

Chili's and other major chains have lots of deals advertised on their websites or social media pages.

Even with these promotions and hungry holiday shopper syndrome, a lot of consumers are choosing to dine in this season. According to a Harris Poll survey from this past November, 61% of Americans said they plan to spend less on eating out in the next six months. So I would expect to see even more deals and offers to try and entice us out into the new year.

Lots of restuarants use social networking to alert potential customers to opportunities to save. All you have to do is like your favorite restaurants on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. It’s also worth checking out the restaurants actual website or if you’re really gung-ho subscribing to their email list for coupons and even special events.

Tis the Season to Re-Gift!

27 Dec

Ralphie isn't pulling it off, but somewhere out there is a little girl who loves pink and bunnies who would look adorable in this onesie pajama!

Now that all the presents have been unwrapped and the stockings emptied, there may be one or two gifts that didn’t quite hit the mark as far as your holiday hopes. But not to worry, as they say one man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Why not organize a Re-Gifting Party with your family and friends? Everyone re-wraps and brings one or two gifts that they could do without, a gift card to a restaurant that’s inconveniently located or a shirt that’s not the right size; then assign a number to each gift and hand out a matching number to each guest. And viola! It’s like Christmas has come twice!

True, there is nothing preventing your uncle from ending up with an unwanted bra and panty set or your friend’s four-year-old daughter from scoring the latest installment of Modern Warfare, but that’s part of the fun! Plus a Re-Gifting party is yet another excuse to enjoy the company of family and good friends during the holidays!

If even after all that there are still some unwanted presents, don’t forget charities don’t only accept donations and offerings beforethe holidays. Rather that having that sweater that your aunt gave you in your least favorite color or the duplicate video game that you got from your mom go to waste, give it to a clothing drive or a toys for tots. Somewhere out there is someone who wants, needs, or could use what you might otherwise just let sit on a shelf. Just don’t take it personally if it’s your gift that someone else ends up giving away!

Drop off unwanted gifts and get a discounted meal at The Melting Pot "Dip & Donate" event. See website for details.

Don’t want to bother with putting together another holiday party? The Melting Pot is offering to host it for you with their “Dip & Donate” event. From January 2nd until January 6th bring in your unwanted or extra gifts and The Melting Pot will donate them to a local charity. Plus you will get a $5 discount on your bill. See The Melting Pot’s website to find out if there is participating location near you!

 

White Castle Goers “Crave” Beer & Wine

22 Dec

"Would you like a six pack with that sack of 10?"

I have always thought of White Castle as the kind of place you go after the party. It’s open late so you can swing by on your way home from a night out and hopefully those greasy balls of goodness they call hamburgers will soak up the alcohol and make tomorrow more managable. White Castle sliders are the perfect late night snack: quick, cheap, and delicious . . . and you’re usually too tired to be bothered with things like nutritional value. In fact White Castle so excels in this nitche there’s even a movie about it.

But now a White Castle in Lafayette, IN has decided to serve beer, starting at $3 and wine, for $4.50. They are not the first fast food restaurant in America to offer alcoholic beverages. Earlier this year Burger King opened the Whopper Bar in Miami’s South Beach, offering beer and Starbucks has been testing beer and wine at a few locations on the west coast since 2010. 

Large fast food chains are always looking for opportunities for growth, especially in this more health conscious environment they need to retain and increase sales. So it’s no surprise that White Castle would consider selling alcoholic beverages. So far customers have had a positive reaction in Indiana, but White Castle, like many other fast food chains would probably face challenges trying to sell beer and wine on a wider scale.

Usually fast food places cater a lot to families and small children and a lot of the staff that works at these establishments is under the age of 21. So logistically, there would have to be some re-marketing strategies implemented to help with people’s expectations as well as training staff to serve alcohol. I don’t know how I feel about this new development, but I can see beer and wine being sold at Starbucks before I could see it on the menu next to a Whopper Jr. or a Crave Case.

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Happy Hanukkah!

21 Dec

Today we're two candles in on the minorah! What are you guys doing to celebrate the festival of lights?

Today is day two of Hanukkah or the Festival of Lights! The eight-day Jewish holiday commemorating the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. Even if you’re not Jewish, Hanukkah is an opportunity to enjoy some wonderful traditions including, family, friends and you guessed it . . . good food!

Challah bread is one of my favorites. My favorite bakery, The Pastry Corner makes it really, really well and usually sells out this time of year. Also, it’s cold out there and what better way to warm up than a nice bowl of Matzah Ball Soup?  If you’re in town doing the tourist thing this holiday season, perhaps you could stop by Katz Deli in NYC for a nice hot cup! 

Did you know that you can find restaurants featuring Jewish and Kosher food near you using RestaurantRow.com? All you have to do is click search and select those options under cuisine. Also gift cards to restaurants make great Hanukkah gifts, I’m just saying!

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy National Chocolate Covered Anything Day!

16 Dec

Celebrate National Chocolate Covered Anything Day!

Hi, my name is ________ and I’m a Chocolaholic! Today is National Chocolate Covered Anything Day, so whatever you’re eating today make sure to dip it in chocolate! Saying that I have a sweet tooth is an understatement. Yes I love food but if I have my way I will usually go sweet over savory everytime. And my favorite type of sweet is, you guessed it, chocolate! Vanilla is just too . . . . well,vanilla. But dip vanilla in chocolate and now we’re cooking with grease!

To me there is just something magical about chocolate and chocolate master, Max Brenner certainly agrees. For those of you know don’t know, Max Brenner is a chocolate genius! He has restaurants in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, and Las Vegas as well as Australia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Israel. At Max Brenner’s you can order food, food (and it’s really good too) but you must save room for the chocolate!

Max Brenner serves chocolate in every way imaginable. They have a variety of hot chocolates (my fave is the Mexican hot chocolate) perfect for warming you up this winter. There’s also chocolate fondue in an assortment of flavors with all kinds of delicious things to dip into. And of course chocolate cakes and bars, bon-bons and shakes. And this chocolate is GOOD!! I mean real good, not your typical, run of the mill, measly chocolate snack (yeah I’m talking about you M&M’s and Reese’s Pieces) this is the type of chocolate that will turn you into a chocolate snob and you’ll never reach for another Hershey’s product ever again!

Ok I may be exaggerating slightly but you catch my drift. I’m being indulgent, which after all is what being a fan of chocolate is all about! So even if you’re not near a Max Brenner I hope that you will indulge yourself and celebrate #chocolatecoveredanythingday. Be traditional and go with strawberries and bananas or get creative and go with pretzels and potato chips. If you’re feeling daring, go with grasshoppers . . . . . and please report back and let us know how it is!

Happy National Chocolate Covered Anything Day!!!!

Do You Theatre Menu?

15 Dec

Image

Tis the season for theatre going! Every holiday season theatre ticket sales spike because people love to see plays and other shows during the holidays. There are many different “Theatre Districts” all over the country and the world, not just Broadway in New York City. And the restaurants nearby (within walking distance) are not there by accident. They know that people like to go out to eat before or after a show and usually to some place nice. These restaurants are said to be located on “Restaurant Row” which is of course how we got the name for our website!

Theatre tickets are expensive enough, save money on dinner by asking to see the "Theatre menu", a specially priced menu for those grabbing a bite before or after a show.

Lots of the restaurants on Restaurant Row offer special pre-fixe menus for show ticket holders called “theatre menus” which are valid either before the curtain goes up or after it comes down. As going to take in a Broadway-style show is a special occasion, these menus usually feature an appetizer, entrée, and a dessert for a special fixed price. The thing is not all restaurants advertise that they offer such a menu. It is not uncommon for the wait staff to leave it out of their spiel as they go over specials, etc. So before you make your reservation, check the restaurant’s website or give them a call to see if they have a theatre menu and tell your server that you want to see that menu when you sit down. Oh and if you tell them what time your show starts they will make sure to get your food out to you asap!

Also these special menus are offered year round, not just during the holidays. So if you get tickets in your stocking for sometime next year don’t forget to ask your server about the theatre menu!

Dinner With Barack

12 Dec

What do restaurants and the President have in common? They both use food to get you to like them on Facebook!

As an informed and concerned American citizen I liked President Obama’s Facebook page. This way I can keep up with any speeches I might have missed and keep track of any major decisions that he makes. But now that the Presidential race is once again upon us, he has started soliciting me for donations in my news feed. And he is making it pretty tempting because of all those who donate to the campaign will be entered into a contest where the prize is dinner with him and Michelle at the White House. And yes they will fly you to D.C.

Social media marketing has officially taken over. Ok I’ll admit it’s been getting out of control for a while now but if you think about it, it’s so sneaky! Ever since Facebook began letting businesses and public figures create “pages” for themselves and enabling you to “like” them, they essentially enabled you to tailor your news feed with ads that you’ve preselected! It’s the same with Twitter, people are given incentives to follow their favorite restaurants because if they do they will be notified about specials and coupons.

There is this great place by my job, Smootie King and by liking their Facebook page I get coupons that literally have me going in there at least twice a week. Without the coupons as a carrot, their smooties while delicious, would be a little too pricey for that kind of patronage. Obama is attempting to do the same thing, using a once in a lifetime experience as extra motivation to donate to his campaign. And you know that dinner is going to be fantastic too! Delicious food prepared by the White House chef, most likely with all organic food that was purchased locally if not from the White House garden itself.

Even if you are not in favor of Obama as President, how cool would it be to have a private dinner with him at the White House? Even if you don’t agree with his politics, it’s hard to deny that he is fascinating. And Mrs. Obama is just fabulous! So when the ‘Dinner With Barack’ contest popped up in my news feed, I had to consider whether contributing to the Obama 2012 campaign for a free trip to the White House to have dinner with the leader of the free world was something I could see myself doing? As it turns out, Yes I Can!

 

 

So Hungry We Could (Literally) Eat a Horse

8 Dec

Horse meat might become US next product export, Congress lifts ban on horse meat.

Congress recently lifted a ban on the inspection of horse meat for human consumption in the United States, essentially making horse meat eligible as food. The ban was lifted in part because of the recession and the effect it has had on the welfare of horses in this country. Last June there was a federal report stating that animal rights organizations were experiencing a spike in incidents of horse neglect and abandonment since 2007.

Basically as people began to struggle economically and since the maintenance of a horse is a large expense, corners were being cut in terms of horse care and in some cases animals were being inexpertly put down. In some states, data showed that investigations for horse abuse increased more than 60 percent.

Those that would advocate for the humane slaughter of horses for human consumption say that lifting of the ban argue that if slaughterhouses existed for horses, they would be a place where an unwanted animal could be disposed of in a humane way and they would not go to waste. Dave Duquette, president of the nonprofit, pro-slaughter group United Horsemen, said that while no site has been picked yet he’s got investors who have expressed interest in financing a horse meat processing plant. The horse meat industry is apparently big business in Mexico and in Canada and we could see some of that profit.

The last slaughterhouses in the U.S. were in Illinois, were owned by foreign companies and closed in 2007, but Duquette’s plant would be American-owned.  Since horse meat is not a common menu item here in the states, most of the meat would be shipped to countries in Europe and Asia. I know, it kind of makes you think twice about eating meat while travelling abroad.

 Animal rights activists are threatening a massive public outcry anywhere a slaughterhouse may open. Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of The Humane Society of the United States predicted, “Local opposition will emerge and you’ll have tremendous controversy over slaughtering Trigger and Mr. Ed.”

But who’s to say that a horse has any more rights than a cow, a chicken, or a pig when it comes to being food for ‘human consumption?’ Who knows, horse meat might be delicious and it’s got protein right? Well as someone who has been dabbling in vegetarianism as of late I’ll pass, but far be it from me to keep the people in France or Japan from satisfying their cravings for horse burgers!

For me it comes down to this: I don’t think that any one animal is “better” than another in terms of which ones are ok to call “food.” Of course I have preferences for which animals constitute food to me, but the world is a big place. There are many different cultures and different resources available to all of us. And telling people what they can and can not eat is in a way like telling them how they can and can not worship.  So since I’m not totally against the idea of eating meat, I guess if people want to eat horses or deer or even cat or dog, that’s their business. But I do believe that no animal (food or not) should be abused or killed in a matter that is inhumane or unprofessionally handled.

What do you guys think?

Hello December! We’re Ready For the Next Food Coma!

2 Dec

Outback's Gingerbread Martini.. YUM!

The turkey and stuffing is now in our rear view mirror which means it’s time to start thinking about caramel, peppermint, and gingerbread! It’s December and restaurants are already rolling out their holiday themed menu items! Some of these holiday products have become a tradition as customers have grown to expect certain drinks, meals, or desserts to grace the restaurant’s menus year after year while other restaurants are trying to top last year’s favorite holiday product with something more delicious and inventive.

So, what are some of the items we have been looking forward to since last year? Here’s two of our favorites:

Outback Steakhouse’s Gingerbread Martini: We’re usually looking for a hot drink during the holidays to sit by the fire with but this cold concoction may make you forget about hot chocolate for good. The martini is made with Absolut Vodka, gingerbread flavoring, Kahlúa, and Bailey’s Irish Cream. The rim is also ‘salted’ with graham crackers crumbs and served with whipped cream and a gingerbread cookie. No need to order dessert as well, don’t you think?

TCBY’S Frozen Yogurt: We expressed our enthusiasm for TCBY when they turned 30, but now we have a whole new reason to celebrate. Our favorite frozen yogurt chain is bringing back their eggnog and gingerbread flavored fro yo and we couldn’t be happier!

While we may be getting ready to pick up last year’s favorites, there’s a slew of new items waiting to satisfy our appetites. Here are the ones we’re going to be devouring first:

Pumpkin, and Pecan, and Eggnog oh my! Oh and don't forget the Gingerbread! The seasonally inspired hotcakes are now available at IHOP!

IHOP’s Holiday Hotcakes:  These seasonal goodies are super popular at IHOP which means moves need to be made fast. For a limited time only, you can order Pumpkin Praline, Eggnog, or White Chocolate Chip Mint pancakes. Probably not the healthiest options on the menu but definitely delicious!

McDonald’s Seasonal Drinks: Yes, you read this correctly, McDonald’s is on our list. While we usually think of Starbucks as the go-to for our seasonally flavored cups ‘o joe, my grandmother can’t stop raving about the new McDonald’s Peppermint Mocha and Peppermint Hot Chocolate. It might be the time can’t think of a better time to test it out.

Is anyone out there racing to Outback or TCBY for their seasonal items? Testing out IHOP’s Hotcakes or McDonald’s drinks? What restaurant is offering holiday fix this year?

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Food Truck Frenzy, Still Going Strong?

1 Dec
line at food truck

Restaurants are crying that they are losing business to their mobile counterparts, do you eat food from a truck?

Food trucks are such a popular trend that some say they are a real threat to brick-and-mortar restaurants. Here in New York City, I’ve definitely seen a rise in the amount of food trucks taking up space on sidewalks and a growth in the size of the lines waiting at them. But to me, there is something about the idea of eating food cooked outside from ingredients that have been sitting in truck all day that is off-putting. I know that there are no guarantees that a kitchen at a sit down restaurant is any cleaner, but I imagine that it is. And I know that food trucks are convenient, faster, and possibly cheaper than eating at restaurant, but I like sitting down at a table to eat.

However, it seems that there are a lot of people who don’t agree with me. Particularly when it comes to grabbing a quick lunch bite. In San Francisco, “Off The Grid” a convergence of food trucks of a variety of different cuisines, sets up shop in the busy downtown area and neighboring restaurant owners say they’re eating into their lunch business. 

The irony of this is that so many food truck vendors aspire to have more stable roots, as in the form of a brick-and-mortar restaurant but don’t yet have the capital to make the investment. Lots of mobile food vendors who have found success and attracted loyal customers with their trucks end up opening actual sit-down eateries. And for most of them having a permanent location has always been the goal. Food trucks limit chefs in the amount of customers they are able to serve and they don’t have the same ability to be creative that they would in a kitchen. Also a restaurant’s income is less threatened during inclement weather, while the revenue of food trucks can drop 15-20 percent if it rains. Winter is just around the corner too. It will be interesting to see if mobile food vendors and their customers can survive the cold!

Take our poll and tell us what you think:

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