Desmond's - Groupon Deal
Groupon: for $49, you get a three-course, prix fixe dinner for two at Desmond's (up to a $110 total value). Click here to see the prix fixe menu of upscale British and American fare. The dinner includes:
•Two pre-dinner cocktails (up to a $14 value each)
•One appetizer to share (up to a $15 value)
•Two entrees (up to a $26 value each)
•One dessert to share (up to a $9 value)
•Two post-dinner coffees (a $3 value each)
Anyone have any opinions on this place?
OK, we bit on this deal.. We had wanted to try Desmond's for a while and this looked like a good chance. We went on Saturday (6:30ish) and shared the entire dining area with one other couple - so the wait and cooking staff shouldn't have been overburdened. And, in fact, we didn't experience any of the service delays other reports have cited. The place was nice and the bar looked friendly.
Well, this was our first (and will be the last) Groupon experience. Technically this was "prix fixe dinner for two" but was more accurately described, IMO, as "prix fixe dinner for one with an extra entree" (fully acknowledging two included drinks and coffees). The food was "pleasant" - basically typical pub comfort food... Bangers and Mash (which I had), fish-n-chips, etc... Not bad, not memorable... We probably would mark this as an interesting place to return for a quick dinner or lunch, but nothing special. But, unfortunately, we probably won't be revisiting due to some "off-putting" (as the Brit's would phrase it) issues. First, the value of the Groupon "deal" was highly inflated - again, IMO. Yes, the regular price of the dinner could have been as much as $120 or so if we had ordered the absolutely most expensive combination of choices. As it turned out, our more humble choices (and most other options) had a regular price tag totalling around $60 - so the $49 Groupon deal didn't save much. But, of course, it was our choice not to select the most expensive options. But here is where things went bad for me. When we got our check, a standard 22% (as I recall) tip was auto-added - not onto the actual normal price of what we ordered (which might have been fair) - but to the maximum possible price we could have ordered - which I do NOT think is fair - and is definitely "off-putting!! Also, the menu made no mention of this "auto-tip" except for parties of 5 or more. Anyway, I suppose I should have stood my ground but sheepishly paid the bill as presentd. Now here's what I don't get about restaurants like this... They go into a costly advertising deal with Groupon or someone else to "catch" new customers... And then pull some deal like a whale-sized auto-tip which is sure to wipe out any good will that might have been gained with the customer. Anyway, the good points of the dinner (decent quality pub comfort food, reasonable service and friendly staff) were obliterated by the annoyance of feeling "taken" Desmond's could have gained two long-term customers instead of a one-shot discount test dinner..
We also got hit with a similar "auto-tip" on a Groupon dinner. As with you, we went ahead and paid the pre-calculated tip on the grossed up (i.e., inflated) dinner tab. I agree, it seems a bit contrived to calculate a tip on prices for dishes that we would be unlikely to ever order. That said, we actually succumbed, twice, at the same restaurant. The service was good, especially in the second instance, and so we kind of rationalized the whole thing, given the full meal, the influence of a bottle of wine :), etc. In fairness to the restaurant they didn't really strong-arm us into paying the auto-tip amount. They just noted that the tip was automatically calculated, noting our prerogative to modify as we liked, or something to that effect.
When all is said and done, we enjoyed the meal well enough and would definitely have upped the tip to account for the reduced Groupon price. I doubt we would have paid quite as much as we did (though we didn't actually do a comparison or anything).
The restaurant offers a regular prix-fixe deal that is only slightly less attractive than the Groupon deal. Hence we could return again easily, though the thought of the auto-tip approach serves as a deterrent. I suppose if we were in the neighborhood and the restaurant was convenient we might return. We wouldn't go out of our way for it, though, given the auto-tip aspect.
Never heard of this place, sorry you had such a bad experience - but I do want to say not all Groupon experiences are this bad. In fact, I've almost always had good experiences, and the few times when the experience was less than satisfying, Groupon's always refunded the price (their customer service is amazing - I've never been refused a refund, though I've never asked for it unless it was warranted.) I've also never had a place charge me 22% auto-tip - that's ridiculous! (Some places did charge auto-tip, but always below 20% which is the minimum I would have tipped anyway, most likely more since I'm getting a discount.)
My rule is I only buy Groupons/Gilt City vouchers (another site I use for "deals") for places I would go and pay full prices anyway, and that's served me pretty well. Also look up the restaurant, check out the menu, and see how much you're REALLY saving - they do often exaggerate the savings. I've done pretty well sticking to these rules. Just last Sunday my husband and I had brunch at inoteca in LES. The voucher was $30 for two brunch prix-fixe (two courses) and two cocktails. Food alone would have been $44 at full-price, that plus a Mimosa and a Bellini (I can't find price for their cocktails) I'm sure the total would have come to at least $60, so it was actually more saving than Gilt City had advertised, which was 40% off.
Whenever I discuss Groupon or Gilt City or those "deal" websites, I get reminded of that "Overheard on Goldman Sachs elevator" quote - "Groupons are food stamps for middle class." Always makes me laugh.
P.S. If you are truly unhappy with the experience, write what you wrote here to Groupon Customer Service, and I am confident that they will refund the price of Groupon. Stress that you did not expect 22% auto-tip, especially on the amount you didn't even spend, and it was not mentioned anywhere on the Groupon. Only if you want to, of course.