Thursday, October 6, 2016

Boston: Dine at a Discount with GoPapaya App

Whether you're a student or someone with a "real job", everyone loves saving money, right?
Well, Bostonians can now have more opportunities to save money while dining out with this new mobile app startup called GoPapaya.

The idea of GoPapaya is like HotelTonight: they work with restaurants to fill tables during the restaurants' down time by offering discounts to customers, usually between 10-30%. On top of that, since they are new and promoting their app, you can sign up with my referral code "pigs10" and they will send you a $10 Amazon gift card after you complete your first reservation!

The restaurant will set a discount on the app in real time, and you'll have 30 minutes to arrive at the restaurant once you make your reservation. When you open the app, it will show you what discounts are available and for how much, sorted by the distance.
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Once you reserve the table, they will hold it for 30 minutes. During this hold and when you're checked in, you can't reserve another table unless you cancel the current one. Here's when I made one for lunch at Patty Chen's Dumpling Room in Central Square.
Go Papaya
To use it, you'd turn on your bluetooth, and the app will automatically detect when you get to the restaurant and check you in. You don't need to purchase anything from the app so there's no upfront cost like Groupons.

When I got to Patty Chen's Dumpling Room, I just told them I made a reservation with GoPapaya, and they knew what I was talking about.

Patty Chen
Pork Dumpling "Ramen" at PC Dumpling Room


Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Fig and Olive (West Hollywood, CA)

by @btsunoda
IMG_1527 West Hollywood is one of LA’s hotspots for new cutting edge restaurants. As a result, I’ve been traveling to the area on a more frequent basis. This time it was to experience Fig and Olive on Melrose Place. Fig and Olive’s menu is largely influenced by its founder, Laurent Halasz, who grew up learning Proven├žal cuisine. They are probably best known for using exceptional olive oils.

Fig and Olive selected 22 of the finest olive oils and use them as a foundation for all of their their dishes. For them, gourmet olive oil is a central ingredient and it displaces their need for butter.

The interior of Fig and Olive is impressive. They have a huge split-level space with double-high ceilings. Instead of showing off their wine collection, they have an impressive wall display of their olive oils. Other dining areas within the restaurant are available such as their semi-private indoor patio with olive trees and rosemary plants.

Complimentary fresh rosemary focaccia bread was served with three distinctly different virgin olive oils: two were from Spain (Manzanillo and Picual); the other was a Fig Koroneiki from Greece. Of the three, my wife and I both favored the Greek olive oil. The Picual was very earthy and I was extremely surprised at the differences in taste between the three olive oils.

We began with the three crostini starter.
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The first was a prosciutto with ricotta, olives, chopped walnuts and topped with a fig. Burrata with a cherry-sized heirloom tomato and pesto was the second one we selected. Of course, I selected the octopus with hummus which was dusted with paprika. All three crostinis were tasty, but I was surprised at how well the octopus paired with the hummus.

A number of dishes were calling my name and I ended up selecting Paella del Mar.
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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Brunch at Napa Valley Grille in Westwood (Los Angeles, CA)

Ah, Westwood. This neighborhood sure has changed since my college days as a Bruin, but Napa Valley Grille is still there and going strong as one of the only higher end restaurants in the neighborhood. They just renovated their restaurant, as well, and it's looking sleek.

I went back a couple of months ago to try out their then-new brunch menu.

For daily breakfast, I typically have a pastry or a coffee cake like this with coffee. The coffee cake was deliciously buttery and I enjoyed the crumbles on top.
Napa Valley Grille
Brunch, however, calls for eggs, like this Cast iron frittata with California wild mushrooms, smoked sardo, caramelized pearl onions ($14)
Napa Valley Grille

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