So this is the first installment of my summer experiment: special fun dates all summer long, funded solely by groupon, living social, or gilt city.

This past Monday, since Memorial Day is the “start of summer” Mav and I decided to use the groupon we had bought for dinner at Amrheins:

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When we (by we I mean Maverick because we take turns buying discount coups) bought this deal it said 35 dollars for $75 dollars, I just took this screenshot today and now it says 70 but whatever.

So at first glance this seemed like a really good deal. In the past we have bought a couple of restaurant groupons which were similar: 20 dollars for 40 dollars worth of food or something, and those are always awesome. Its the difference between only ordering entrees and waters, to ordering entrees and an appetizer, a dessert, or cocktails or something. It takes “eating out to be fed and not have to cook” into “eating out in a special slightly more romantic ‘this is an occasion'” type territory. Even better still, buying groupons and living socials helps us nudge out of our boring comfort zones and find cool new places in the city to eat. Of course, this is the conceit of the groupon in the first place on the business side, right? Bring in a new customer base. For example we have purchased a particular groupon for a place downtown twice now, it can only be used on Tuesday nights which also happens to be “rat pack music night.” Its a local radio personality crooning standards and Mav and I could personally take or leave the live music portion, as could the rest of Boston it seems because the place has been pretty dead both Tuesdays we’ve gone. We will gladly eat while someone sings when it happens for a discount though, and the place has pretty incredible food and an ambiance that screams “date night lets kiss after this.”

Or, occasionally we’ve even been so charmed with our groupon experience that we’ll return multiple times even without a discount, like the time we bought a Gilt City for ice skating at the Charles Hotel that came with two flatbreads and two cocktails from Noir. We LOVED those flatbreads so so so much I think we’ve gone back twice now and paid full price. This is a perfect example of groupon doing it’s job.

All of this to say that our experience at Amrhein’s was not at all like either of those experiences I referenced above.

Firstly, how do you pronounce the name? I have not a clue. Aahhhhmmm r  HEEEEIIINS?

Amrheins is located in Southie and is apparently a very old restaurant, over a century old in fact as it opened in 1890. On their website Amrheins boasts the oldest hand carved bar in America. While we never saw the bar we did see many flat screen tvs and also some strange bright blue uplighting pointing at the ceiling. It didn’t have great ambiance, just felt like a sports bar.

The meal started with two rolls and a small bowl of something to dip into, we thought it was olive oil but upon tasting it we both agreed that it was melted butter. I love butter as much as the next guy, but it was kind of odd. Didn’t stop me from dipping my bread in it though.

the butter was also vaguely flavored by something, parmesan cheese perhaps? I also fully admit it might have been some other substance than butter, we'll never know because we never asked.

the butter was also vaguely flavored by something, parmesan cheese perhaps? I also fully admit it might have been some other substance than butter, we’ll never know because we never asked. Also, I know you’re all floored by my haphazard iphone food photography. Like how I artfully tore my bread?

Now, here’s where things get a little tricky. The groupon was 35 dollars for an appetizer up to 12 dollars and an entree up to 29 dollars. But it was marketed up top as 35 dollars for up to 70 dollars of food.

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So, Mav and I looked over the appetizer menu and ended up going with the buffalo dip which was…probably our least favorite food item of the night and clocked in at a measly 9 dollars.

The dip was very soupy, essentially dipping chips into buffalo sauce. Which was culinarily exciting as it sounds. I guess one can't expect much when they order buffalo dip.

The dip was very soupy, essentially dipping chips into buffalo sauce. Which was culinarily exciting as it sounds. I guess one can’t expect much when they order buffalo dip.

Then we ordered entrees.

I went with a special, baked scrod with two sides.

My two sides were mashed potatoes and mixed veggies. As you can see, the mixed veggies were steamed within an inch of their mushy life and reminded me of bad wedding food. It was apparent someone had made them at 4pm that day and that they had then marinated in their own sad juices in a chafing dish until their untimely demise on my plate. The mashed potatoes and fish were fine, but not any better than anything I could cook myself (in fact I think my baked fish is better, because I season it.) There was a fairly big portion which I guess is a plus. This cost 19 dollars.

My two sides were mashed potatoes and mixed veggies. As you can see, the mixed veggies were steamed within an inch of their mushy life and reminded me of bad wedding food. It was apparent someone had made them at 4pm that day and that they had then marinated in their own sad juices in a chafing dish until their untimely demise on my plate. The mashed potatoes and fish were fine, but not any better than anything I could cook myself (in fact I think my baked fish is better, because I season it.) There was a fairly big portion which I guess is a plus. This cost 19 dollars.

 

Maverick got Shepard’s Pie:

According to Maverick it tasted good, and there was a lot of it. But we both agreed the presentation (though shepard's pie doesn't typically win any beauty contests) left something to be desired. Mav referred to it looking like a bowl of diarrhea, I couldn't disagree, especially because it had oozed out the sides and nobody bother to wipe the plate off. #fancy. This cost us 16 dollars.

According to Maverick it tasted good, and there was a lot of it. But we both agreed the presentation (though shepard’s pie doesn’t typically win any beauty contests) left something to be desired. Mav referred to it looking like a bowl of diarrhea, I couldn’t disagree, especially because it had oozed out the sides and nobody bother to wipe the plate off. #fancy. This cost us 16 dollars.

 

Shortly after we were full and the bill arrived. I had ordered a shirley temple in order to have something to tip on and when I looked at the bill I realized our mistake.

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So, basically. Our entrees totaled 35 dollars, aka what Maverick paid for the groupon in the first place. Even with our 9 dollar buffalo regret dip we still only clock in at 44 dollars of our supposed “up to 75 dollar value.” Now, I guess partially this is our fault for not ordering fancier meals. Though, in my efforts to write this post I looked up the menu online and most expensive entrees I can find were 23 dollars. So, even if Maverick and I had both gotten 23 dollar entrees and the most expensive appetizer which is 12 dollars, our bill still would have only come to 58 dollars, not 70 or 75.

When you look at it this way, its basically as if Maverick and I pre-paid to go out to dinner, and got a free appetizer. In order to make this groupon a good deal, it would have had to be a simple 35 dollars toward 70 dollars of food (meaning any food, entrees, apps, desserts etc.) OR 25 dollars for two entrees or something like that. Currently this deal is meager and frankly sort of a rip off. I was led to believe this restaurant would be more on the verge of “finer dining” when it reality it wasn’t anything special.

A note about the service: our waitress was lovely, attentive, not aggressive and prompt. The two hosts standing at the host’s stand were mildly unprofessional, both of them eating constantly while they stood there and walking back and forth to the kitchen for more snacks. I understand the boredom as the place was pretty dead, but there were no less than 7 televisions on the wall for them to watch.

All in all this one turned out to be less of a deal than we hoped, but as always I can say the company was pretty fantastic ;). Here’s to higher hopes for our next installment of groupon summer!

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