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Essex Preferred Dining card or Entertainment 2007 Coupon Book, or neither? (for Burlington to Beverly area)

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chompie Dec 30, 2006 07:01 AM

Contemplating buying either of these and wondering if anyone recommends getting either? I see some restaurants listed for both that are liked here.. Don't know if Entertainment Book has much for north of boston.. Thanks! Also, would appreciate recs of places worth trying on either card...

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    luv2dineout RE: chompie Jan 3, 2007 06:36 PM

    For North shore go with the Essex Preferred Card out of Beverly. We get 1 every year - lots of really good restaurants - some well known like Beverly Depot,Victoria Station but many are the hidden jewel kind of places you'd never know about. The Entertainmnent coupon book has nothing North Shore except fast food.

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      amortizor RE: chompie Jan 3, 2007 08:01 PM

      A very successful chef and restaurant owner once remarked that a good restaurant cannot give away its food and stay in business. With one or two possible exceptions, the restaurants listed on the Essex Preferred Card are not that good. They are not necessarily bad but they are not that good either. If you are going out for a dining experience - try to find a good restaurant. Additionally, most chains are not that good either.

      5 Replies
      1. re: amortizor
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        luv2dineout RE: amortizor Jan 4, 2007 10:26 PM

        amortizor,

        Wow, only 2 out of 70 plus restaurants ALL the others "not that good"!? I'm kinda new to CH and have no idea what criteria you use in such a broad judgment.

        My wife & I treat it like an adventure to check out a place thru Essex Preferred. It might only be $10 or $15 off our tab, but it's an incentive and if we like it, we tell others - so it's a win-win for the restaurant too. We found Scandia in Amesbury loved it and have been back. We're headed to Keons in Haverhill next week.

        Being former restaurateurs, we still don't consider ourselves connoisseurs. Sometimes our criteria for a "good" restaurant to return again to might go beyond just food taste/presentation. Sometimes it was the friendly service, owners who checked on table practiced hospitality. Could even be the great ocean view from that corner table at a seafood restaurant where next time we'll order the burgers.

        An example this last year was Porchai in Wakefield listed in Essex Preferred. Never heard of it, hard to find, very tiny and admittedly might not be the best Thai food I've ever had. But the 2 sisters who owned it came over to table on a slow night - real sweethearts. Showed us their hand made decorations on the walls, discussed Thai culture & food. We go back a month later - they remember us and made us feel special.

        1. re: luv2dineout
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          amortizor RE: luv2dineout Jan 6, 2007 02:20 PM

          luv2dineout/kateusedtobe50/etal. It is good to see that you are enjoying the Essex Preferred Card. I rate a dining experience based upon a subjective weighting of the quality of the food, the quality of the service, and the location/ambiance. I continue to think that one could do better by seeking out a restaurant experience that is not driven by some sort of a gimmic. No business can stay in business by giving their product away. Quality of the waitstaff and location/ambiance is important as well - albeit not as important as the quality of the food and presentation.

          1. re: amortizor
            srgoodman RE: amortizor Jan 6, 2007 04:45 PM

            "No business can stay in business by giving their product away".

            Don't know about the Entertainment Card, but the Essex Preferred Card can only be used *once* per restaurant, for one meal of at least two ordered (with a maximum of two cards per table). Any restaurant that can't afford to give away *one* meal *once* a year to a customer who would have otherwise bypassed them is already going out of business.

            We now eat regularly at the 1640 Hart House in Ipswich. For many years I refused to eat there, assuming (wrongly) that it was just a blue-hair place. When they appeared in the Essex Preferred list, we figured, "Why Not?", and were very pleasantly surprised. The Hart House is a very busy, successful restaurant - just try to get in there on a Saturday night without a reservation. Nevertheless, they understand the value of attracting new customers.

            1. re: srgoodman
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              stinkycheese RE: srgoodman Jan 6, 2007 09:55 PM

              "Any restaurant that can't afford to give away *one* meal *once* a year to a customer who would have otherwise bypassed them is already going out of business."

              Why would a restaurant want to give a "free meal" to someone who will not be back until next year, for another free meal. Maybe if they bought an appetizer, or a couple of drinks the restaurants would be more open to the idea of taking these cards. The people who use them are not repeat customers, always buy the cheapest entree on the menu, and drink nothing but water.

              1. re: stinkycheese
                The Chowhound Team RE: stinkycheese Jan 6, 2007 10:02 PM

                Howdy, sorry to interrupt, but this part of the thread is starting to veer away from discussions of Boston chow to general thoughts on giving away free meals. since this latter topic is not Boston specific and has more to do with business relations than chow, if you wish to continue discussing it, please do so by starting a new thread on the Not About Food Board.

                Many thanks for your help in keeping our boards focused on Boston specific chow.

      2. k
        kate used to be 50 RE: chompie Jan 4, 2007 03:06 PM

        We received the Essex Preferred Card as a gift this Holiday season and I was just looking at the book last night. While I would not say the food is being given away (there are maximum amounts on each coupon for each meal), it does make us want to venture out to try some of the restaurants we might not normally try, such as Willowtree in Peabody. Drive by this all the time and though it doesn't seem to be a CH destination, one never knows until you try.

        There are a lot of Rockport restaurants which we will now try to get to as Rockport is not on our normal dining out location.

        1. kparke30 RE: chompie Jan 4, 2007 03:59 PM

          We have the Entertainment Book & find lots of Northshore options. Once you purchase you can also access tons of additional discounts on their website too. If you use it, it more than pays for itself I find.

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            chompie RE: chompie Jan 10, 2007 05:11 AM

            thanks for the info! keep it coming! (the info, not the fighting!) What were some north places on the entertainment card? Its hard to find out on their website. I havent bought either , but i can say that i see several good places on the Essex Card, several of which are highly spoken of right here. So I am still open to either and dont believe for a minute that only crappy places are on these cards. I can comment on a few:
            Amelias- Gloucester.. Good basic seafood platter in a nice spot on Good Harbor Beach
            Cafe Paolina-have read grear reviews. look forward to trying it
            Pellinos- years ago ate there once but it was memorably good. dont know if it changed
            Portobello-agree with great reviews here
            Toscanas-peabody Go!! great food, pizza, hospitality and entertainment. Very homecooked Italian
            Bellinos- also good
            American BBQ -have heard good things
            What is The Breakfast Room in Peabody??? Love the name

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              amortizor RE: chompie Jan 11, 2007 09:40 PM

              chompie: Amelias used to be a dynamite place. Amelia, herself, was there to oversee things all the time - so it seemed anyway. We used to stop in about once every week or so. It has dropped off considerably. The place was never intended to be gourmet dining but the quality of the seafood is not what it used to be. The service was never all that inspiring either, but it too has dropped off. I wouldn't exactly call it a good spot as it is across the street from the Good Harbor Beach parking lot. There is no view of the water. We have take our low price, low overhead, seafood cravings to The Causeway. The American BBQ is an honest place. It does not intend to be anything other than a BBQ joint. Good grub at good prices. Both Amelia's and American BBQ probably use the Essex Card gimmic due to the fact they don't have a waitstaff and just utilize fast food order takers. Both Amelia's and American BBQ have good, honest food at reasonable prices and would be good to bring a family of kids to. I would be hard pressed to recommend either as a good dining experience.

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