Whose you know me, know that I enjoy my food and love eating. I think going out for a meal with friends is a super way to spend an evening and it is something I have been doing a lot more of here in London. Unfortunately, eating out is very expensive, particularly in this city. The gap between buying groceries and eating out is massive (as it should be) so one sometimes feels bad for eating out when you could cook something delicious at home for far cheaper.
Recently, I’ve discovered a great way to save money when eating out. I’ve just bought myself a tastecard (http://www.tastecard.co.uk/), which gives you 50% or 2 FOR 1 at thousands of UK restaurants. An annual subscription presently costs £79.99 but there are often promotions so be sure to Google something along the lines of ‘taste card deals’ or ‘taste card vouchers’ before you buy. The deal I found saved me £30 and I decided to do it!
The card made its debut this week when Chris and I visited the Baltic Restaurant in South Bank – www.balticrestaurant.co.uk (closest tube: Waterloo). The Baltic specialises in Eastern Europe Cuisine and what caught Chris’s attention when he was searching for participating restaurants was the number of strange items on the menu!
The restaurant itself is quite smart and very comfortable. The staff are very attentive, without being overbearing, and service throughout the evening was excellent. We were offered a selection of bread while we decided what to order, which certainly wasn’t easy. After much deliberation, I went for the Gravadlax with Potato Latkes. Gravadlax is salmon that has been fried in home-made dill vodka and the flavour was delicious (the dill vodka shot you can order with the meal less so). The latkes were crisp and tasty and they complimented the salmon beautifully.
Chris ordered Kaszanka – grilled black sausage with potatoe pancake, apple and onions. I’m not sure who first thought to serve congealed blood but it was very tasty.
Mains were no easier to select. Choices ranged from roast goose and rabbit leg to roast hake but in the end I went with something I’ve never heard of before – Golonka. This dish is a honey and pomegranate glazed pork shank served on a bed of mash. The melt-off-the-bone meat was delicious although the portion size was huge and a little more sauce would have been great as it got a little dry towards the end. But the flavours were fantastic and meat superbly cooked.
Chris’s selection of Schabowy, breaded pork escalope with caramelized plum, apricot, broad beans and bacon, was also superb and we enjoyed a fantastic bottle of red with our meal.
We shared a baked vanilla cheesecake and both had coffees and the bill came to £68 with the discount on the food saving us £29 . While certainly not cheap, it was by no means overly expensive for two courses and wine. And it was a fantastic dinner trying new dishes.
Note that there are a few restrictions, though. Few restaurants allow you to visit on a Friday or a Saturday while many have a ‘max person’ limit, both of which I think are reasonable. Finally, bear in mind it’s only the food which qualifies for the discount and thus if you enjoy a drink with dinner, that won’t be covered.
I’ve heard arguments that you end up spending more with this card as you eat out more often and I can appreciate that. My thinking is that I won’t eat out any more frequently but when I do, I’ll only visit a restaurant where I can enjoy a discount.
Finally, download the tastecard app which allows you to search for participatings restaurant in an instant.
And please let me know your experiences, I would love to hear from you.