“I scored a great deal!” exclaimed Mysaucepan holding up a voucher from one of so many on-line group buying deals now offering fantastic value from restaurants to massages, manicures and car wash. Being a foodie that she is, it must be another deal for a restaurant and my guess is right, as it usually is
“Three courses for two people for only $69, plus you get a free bottle of wine!!!” I frown and wonder what is the catch to this seemingly amazing offer. “Nothing is free in this world, my sweetness!” is my response. She goes on to explain the deal is for Pink Salt, the restaurant where owners Evan Hansimikali and Bella Serventi found fame in the reality TV series My Restaurant Rules some years ago. They launched the restaurant in beautiful Manly north of Sydney but has since relaunched it in swanky Double Bay, an upmarket neighbourhood in the eastern part of the city.
The deal is offered by livingsocial.com and on the day we were going for dinner, I go online to do some research on the restaurant. I am sceptical after reading some ghastly reviews on Urbanspoon by some customers who were obviously very unhappy with their experience from this $69 on-line offer. The grievances are mainly on the quality of the food and service standards.
I show Mysaucepan the reviews which have a mix of good and really bad ones but we decide to keep an open mind to give the restaurant a chance. But in an attempt to avoid disappointment, we also significantly lower our expectations of a great meal.
We arrive at the restaurant for a booking at 8pm on a Thursday night. A waiter informs us that our table is not ready despite a half full restaurant but I am happy to settle down at the fabulously pink martini bar for some pre-dinner drinks. We have a choice of a 2010 Wild Oats pinot grigio or cabernet merlot. Mysaucepan opts for the white to accompany the scallops she has been eyeing on the on-line menu.
The wine is crisp and dry, just as I like my whites and we sipped while watching diners and the eclectic decor which has a pink tiled wall on one side, modern chandeliers and of course, the groovy pink martini bar.
We are eventually given a table after fifteen minutes and seated at the front of the restaurant. We are greeted by a wall of 42 Below pink vodka from New Zealand as we browse the menu.
Mysaucepan orders the ricotta and chive filled tempura zucchini flower which come with a tomato vinaigrette. The batter is light and crispy and the gooey ricotta always a prized bite in the flower. We both agree this popular dish is a good entree.
I order the grain-fed beef carpaccio with horseradish, cherry tomato and green beans. My first impression when it arrives is that it will make a beautiful summer dish though we are now getting into the thick of winter. Nevertheless, this entree is beautifully put together because of one ingredient which was not mentioned on the menu.
Even though the thinly sliced beef is a little bland, the tangy and acidity of small wedges of caperberries bring the sweetness of the cherry tomato and salad leaves to live. The horseradish dressing marries everything together and we both agree this could be an interesting entree for our next dinner party.
So far, our apprehension has been met with beautiful entrees although service can be a little more attentive.
For my main, I order the grain-fed scotch fillet with triple cooked chips, watercress salad and dianne sauce. The meat is cooked to medium-rare as request and whilst it’s not the thickest of cuts and a little chewy, flavours are good with the dianne sauce. I wonder about the triple cooked chips because it is far from crispy. If at all, they are a little undercooked and I find myself in an unusual struggle to finish them.
Mysaucepan has the twice cooked pork belly with pumpkin puree, baby bok choy and calvados jus. Flavours are really good and the meat well cooked and yielding to a soft touch of the knife. What let this dish down is the prized pork crackling which is leathery tough and unedible.
There is a long wait for our desserts and the waiter recommends a special fruit trifle with strawberries jelly, blue berries and meringue topping.
Mysaucepan finds the jelly a little too firm although I think it is fine.
I’m not big on desserts as I don’t have a sweet tooth perhaps to my own detriment. I did enquire at the beginning if I could have two entrees instead to substitute for the dessert but was told it cannot be accommodated. Nevertheless, I find my baked lemon and lime tart with raspberry sorbet and merigue biscuit to be nice and refreshing and I almost finish it before Mysaucepan is half way through her dessert.
Overall, we find Pink Salt to have offered a great value meal. The food and service can be improved somewhat but for $69 with a half decent bottle of wine thrown in, I just cannot fault this meal. The regular menu prices for entree, main and dessert are $19, $34 and $14 respectively and the bottle of Wild Oats pinot grigio is $40 on the wine list. Therefore, we would have paid $176 for the meal without the deal, a massive savings of $107!
Would we have paid the regular price of $176 for this meal? Probably not.
Are we glad we experienced this deal? Definitely, because it tells us how competitive Sydney dining can be.
Would we come back again for this $69 deal? Maybe.
From our experience buying on-line restaurant deals, there are obviously hit and misses. I commend Pink Salt for this effort because they have given value and the food is relatively good despite some bad on-line reviews. Maybe it was an off night some customers experienced, but not for us tonight. Perhaps Pink Salt has simply stepped up a gear and polished their act.
Tips on buying on-line restaurant deals
Here are a couple of tips or rather Mysaucepan’s advice about on-line restaurant deals as she has bought a few more of these deals months ago.
1. Before buying the deal, do a little research about the restaurant by reading some of the reviews on say Urbanspoon and Eatability. Whilst these sources are by no means authoritative, they do give you a general idea from the views of a broad spectrum of customers who have dined at the establishment. Check if the restaurant has been listed in the Sydney Morning Herald Good Food Guide as this is one of the more credible eating guides of the city.
2. Once you have bought the deal, try and book a time immediately as good deals may mean very busy and booked out times.
One of our other restaurant deals for a one-hatted restaurant has been booked out for six months if you want to dine on a Friday or Saturday night. However, we are really looking forward to the experience and hopefully a good one to write and share with you in due course.
Therefore, if a one-hatted restaurant is offering these deals, it just goes to show how competitive Sydney dining and how discerning we customers have become. The restaurant business can be tough and ruthless, but as paying customers, we also have the right to seek out value and quality. One of the responsibilities of food bloggers is to give a balance and objective view of this equation.
So dear readers, have you had any great restaurant deals recently that you can share with us?
53 Cross street
Double Bay, Sydney
New South Wales 2028
+612 9328 1664
Eatability Australia – Pink Salt review
the food doesnt look that bad! i found that you really have to be lucky with the vouchers. some i went to were good and some…not so great, some even gave me a snobby attitude when they knew it was from a voucher
the stuffed zucchini flowers look really delicious! shame about the steak and chips though. the chips look raw!!
I’ve read similar reviews on other blogs where people have enjoyed the meal mostly but used the deals and have said that they wouldn’t have paid full price. Still, the restaurant is still going so I guess people are still going.
Thanks for adding me in twitter which led me to this wonderful blog filled with yummilicious pics 😉
ive always wanted to go to pink salt..
i love the colour pinkXD
like you reading reviews deters me
but $69 is a good deal if its quality food hehe.
The food looks scrumptious! I love the zucchini flower tempura. So bad that you didnt have a great experience.
The twice-cooked pork belly is a stunner. I can practically taste it now. Or I surely WISH that I could. 😉
My experience with voucher online deals is pretty darn average really, but I have to say the food looked pretty good at Pink Salt – they’ve been around for awhile now, so hopefully they’ll continue to hang in there & get all their little quirks smoothed out.
Great review! What a great deal for all the lovely dishes you had. Sorry everything wasn’t perfect. Still seems like you guys had a pretty good time. You take great pictures! I’ve never had zucchini flower and would love to try some day. Thanks for sharing your experience with us.
I find eatability to be quite harsh, because let’s face it, the first thing a lot of people want to do when they’ve had a bad experience is complain about it. People who’ve had a good experience (barring food bloggers :P) normally won’t say anything unless they’re particularly wowed, because a good experience is expected.
That said, I used one of the vouchers for a Thai restaurant in Top Ryde, and I did feel that our meals were a little poorer in quality than the ones around us!
Zucchini flowers, win!
I love the shade of pink in this restaurant… and wow interesting tempura with Ricotta and chive! I’d love to try pork belly with pumpkin puree. Very unique dish. And lastly lemon and lime tart… perfect ending. Oh! I’ve been missing the email subscription. I like following you via email. Nice!
I went to the one in Manly, during the time of My Restaurant Rules. The only thing that bought a smile to my face were the cupcakes, back then no one served cupcakes. Now cupcakes are everywhere. It’s never compelled me to visit again though. The voucher was a good deal though
Thanks for the tips on buying the online deal, I never done it before. Sure a great meal with that price you paid.
Hi Dear A very well made post with beautiful pictures. Saving this recipe of urs and wud love to give ur version a try on the coming weekend. Have a great day !!!
So glad your experience was good at Pink Salt! There’s nothing worse than spending a couple hundred of dollars for very average food.
I just bought a voucher for Hippo Creek here in Perth from Stardeals. I’m hoping that they will have bookings available before the voucher expires (5 months) as it’s limited to lunch which means everyone will be booking Sat & Suns!
I’ve also purchased a voucher from Spreets for a restaurant in the Gold Coast earlier this year as an engagement present for our friends who live in QLD which worked out alright (but I guess they wouldn’t say if it was a bad experience because it was a present) 😉
I was skeptical of taking up the Pink Salt voucher when I came across it in my mailbox…your review of Pink has now made me look out earnestly for their next meal deal! great photos as always.
Interesting post – it is always a dilemma as to whether to buy an online deal as sometimes they are a total failure but it looks like Pink Salt worked out for you – a very reasonably priced meal in Double Bay as well!
Excellent and helpful tips. Great photos!
Shame about the chips and crackling – but loving the copper pot the chips are served in!
Hi sugarpuffi, the food was generally fine but the chips were really undercooked.
Hi Lorraine, the reviews do seem to indicate most would not have paid the full price.
Hi babe kl, thanks for the follow too.
Hi Dolly, $69 for 2 was great value.
Hi Tanvi, the experience was fine overall.
Hi Carolyn, pity the crackling was way tough.
Hi Anna, the food was fine for what we paid.
Hi LeQuan, zucchini flowers are great when stuffed with riccota and deep-fried with light batter.
Hi JasmyneTea, eatability seems to have some pretty extreme reviews but it does give an idea of what to expect I suppose.
Hi Nami, thanks for subscribing.
Hi Dumpling Girl, it’s great value with the voucher.
Hi Ching, we need to do a bit of research though.
Hi Sonia, unfortunately the recipes are not mine
Hi foodie cravings, I’ve been to Hippo Creek in Perth and I love the steaks there!
Hi Fiona, I guess it boils down to the restaurant as not every deal is great.
Hi Gourmet Chick, the deal worked out fine for us and we were happy.
Hi Maris, thanks for dropping by.
Hi Tina, the rest of the food was fine except for the chips and crackling.
I haven’t taken up any online deals so I can’t comment but glad it worked out well in this case. Looks like a good spot. The decor seems nice but I admit my eye was drawn to the bar and the vodka!
I’ve used a few online deals and have only had good experiences so far which I’m very happy about! I rarely read Eatability, but I’m a fan of Urbanspoon and of course, food blogger reviews! I like pictures first you see 😉
I have been to pink salt a couple of times and always thought the food to be really good. The first time I went there I had the best squid ink linguine ever. If I were still in Sydney I would have snapped that deal up for sure!
Hello, Excellent blog. Some truly wonderful posts on this site, thank you for contribution.
I love online deals like this one. This is excellent post with valuable information. Thanks everyone.