Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Alibi: Another place, another discount offering

In a sign of the times, it's getting difficult to keep track of restaurant discounts and specials in Sydney. Like who's doing cheap slider/taco/fried chicken specials night or who's got Friday lunch specials. Meanwhile, deal vouchers seem to be waning while the latest is restaurant booking websites offering discounts for specific restaurants at specific times during the week.

The concept is to pay one of these booking sites a nominal fee (up to $10) to make a real time booking at a participating restaurant. You then receive a discount (ranging from 15-30%) on the entire bill without the need to proffer crumpled vouchers or secret code words.

Bill with Full Society discount from The Alibi, Victoria Street, Darlinghurst
I was credited by Full Society (thanks Joe) to road-test a reservation from the site's range of restaurants spanning Sydney CBD, Surry HillsDarlinghurst and more. Availabilities tend not to be on Friday or Saturday nights, say, but it depends on the individual restaurant and their chosen allocations.

We booked in to new-ish The Alibi in Darlinghurst for a light modern Japanese meal, with a kitchen featuring Tetsuya's and Sake experience, and a fitout evoking an old jazz club. Overcoats and magnifying glasses of the private eye detective variety would not be out of place at all at The Alibi.

Mr Hito cocktail
The moodily dark venue features table settings over a staggered dining room, with what looked like a proper bar out the back. There's a sense of theatricality and I'm pretty sure a Cluedo party would go down well; perhaps even more easily than the unique Mr Hito cocktail.

It's a rum-based mojito with the usual mint and lime - and miso paste. The miso doesn't push the cocktail into savoury territory, nor is it particularly discernible, but it's certainly no longer a lightly flavoured, fruity mojito.

Crab leaves - blue swimmer crab on betel leaf with young ginger, chiili and amazu ponzu
The seafood-heavy starters menu is incredibly tempting, and the very friendly and helpful Kiwi waiter steered us towards the crowd favourites.

The crab betel leaves, drippingly juicy with the ponzu dressing, have a nice amount of blue swimmer flesh but are somewhat overwhelmed with the sweetness of the sauce. Nonetheless, it's a fresh couple of mouthfuls to start the meal.

Seared scallop and ocean trout tartare with amazu ponzu  and white truffle oil
I was completely thrown by the scallop and ocean trout tartare which is served in a martini glass with what looked like a gigantic seared scallop sitting in dressing. The salmon roe topped 'scallop' is in fact diced scallop reformed into a large puck, then torched.

The scallop sits on the ocean trout tartare which is submerged in the martini glass. With teaspoons and a bit of everything in each mouthful, this unexpected presentation of seafood tartare was actually deliciously textural with bang-on flavours.

Crispy tofu, pan tossed Asian mushroom and iceberg lettuce
As we were only eating very lightly, we opted for one main and one side. There's a full range of proteins on The Alibi's mains menu, toeing more of a fusion line than strictly Japanese.

The vegetarian option of crisp tofu with a range of mushrooms looked great: three bricks of lightly battered and fried tofu which could have used more seasoning, and the heavily miso-sauced mushrooms including king browns and deep fried enoki mushrooms.

Judging by the heavy seasoning of the mushrooms, I imagine eating them all together with the tofu and lettuce was the proper procedure.

Warm potato salad - crushed kipfler potato, fennel, Sicilian olive and truffle oil
The warm potato salad didn't really seem to be a Japanese style one as I'd expected. While the fennel and watercress were refreshing touches, there was a lot of Spanish onion and a richness contributed by the truffle oil.

On request for the bill, it arrived with a Full Society discount line item and the 20% discount without question. We paid for our discounted meal and then tipped most of the savings, but still left with the feeling of  having had value through the Full Society booking.

There's certainly a value proposition in these discounted website bookings, and I imagine especially so in a group dining situation. It's then just a matter of having enough restaurants and variety to keep subscribers interested. For me, Full Society brought me to The Alibi where I'm pretty sure it was Mr Hito, in the dining room, with a discount booking.

The Alibi Darlinghurst on Urbanspoon


Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

The crab leaves and scallop look interesing. Don't think I've seen anything plated up like that before. It's visually appealing.

Jacq said...

The seared scallop and ocean trout tartare looks like an interesting dish. At first I thought it was torched rice!

Not Quite Nigella said...

That scallop looks fantastic! And thanks for the review on the new discount system too-there are so many different ways to get a discount on a meal via vouchers etc that the mind boggles.

Tina said...

Hi Tina - Yeah, the scallop was definitely a highlight; even if I don't love eating out of martini glasses...

Hi Jacq - I thought it was a gigantic, singular scallop - how embarrassing.

Hi Lorraine - Agreed, which is why it was nice to be able to test out Full Society.

talk&spoon said...

full society sounds amazing! what a great idea! keen to check out alibi too since it's in my neighbourhood.

Tina said...

Hi talk & spoon - Yeah, it's definitely worth checking out, especially if it's convenient for you.


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