Being fifty-something, I’ve learned the value of a dollar. I get that it’s less about what you earn and more about what you do with it. When your thoughts turn to (the whimsy of) retirement, saving a buck or two seems even more imperative. And, so it came to pass that we bought an Entertainment Book.
Let me explain Entertainment Book: it’s a type of membership discount system you purchase for $60 ($20 of which goes direct to charity). You get a book full of discount vouchers and a card entitling you to other discounts with listed providers. All providers are local to your area (Geelong and Ballarat for us) and most are eateries. There’s also a digital membership (an app for your phone). Discounts vary from two-for-one meal offers to percentage discounts.
We did the math and ciphered that we’d recoup our $60 outlay within a few date nights.
And so it’s begun: our Entertainment Book foodie tour of G-town where we find ourselves at eateries we haven’t visited for years, flashing our gold discount card and snaffling up the savings. And, for some weird reason, we’re calling ourselves foodies.
Here’s a snapshot of where we’ve been so far. No, you will see no personal meal pic’s here. I’ve promised not to sully Wednesday date night ambience by whipping out my phone for random snaps. All pic’s you see here, I’ve snavelled online. (Credit: relevant establishment.)
Geelong locals might remember this CBD stalwart under a different name. Be reassured, the decor hasn’t changed much in 40 or so years. It’s still that little slice of Italy in the heart of town. And it’s still serving up magnificent Italian fare. I was totally satiated with an entree size of house-made gnocchi with chicken, mango and avocado ($20) and a glass of red. Bellisimo!
Don’t: be embarrassed to ogle the Italian-themed memorabilia adorning the walls and every spare surface
Do: swing by Union Street Wine Bar for a pre-dinner glass of vino (and maybe a nightcap on the way home). Or even grab a bottle to BYO (Lipari welcomes BYO).
Entertainment Book discount: $14
Last time we visited (about three years ago) the fare was disappointing. This time, we discovered updated décor and a refreshingly beyond-the-norm menu. The service was superb. Mr P opted for Chicken Scaloppini ($26) and I chose the Chiang Mai Thai Curry ($22), which turned out to be one of the best vegan meals I’ve ordered in a long time. Presented beautifully (served with crackers and rice) and perfectly paired with a local Six Foot Six pinot gris ($8 glass).
Don’t: go past the Duck Spring Rolls ($13) for entrée.
Do: ask for a table near the fire in the front lounge. Toasty!
Entertainment Book saving: $24.50
Famous for Sunday jazz and post-footy gatherings, the Elephant hasn’t been on our radar for some time. In between, it’s morphed into a fine restaurant with brilliant table service and a diverse menu of sliders, steaks, classics and a pleasing range of vego meals. I settled on Vegetarian Risotto (pumpkin, baby beetroot, spinach, walnuts + parmesan $20) and was delighted. Perfect balance of texture and tastiness.
Do: check out the $12 lunch specials in the public bar Monday – Friday.
Don’t: forget this establishment is owned by Geelong’s infamous, colourful ex-mayor and ex-paparazzi to the world. His framed images tetris-ed across the pub walls make for lively viewing (and conversation).
Entertainment Book discount: $21
We haven’t been here since it was that weird place that served up raw meat and oven-heated rocks so you could cook it yourself at the table (and what ugly laminated tables they were). Don’t know about you, but I go out to avoid cooking! The place has been reinvented into a modern Indian eatery with a fresh fit-out, flashier furniture and a lot more pizazz than your average curry house. Rahul was diligent and polished with his service, and quite chatty. The menu features the usual Indian suspects with a hefty dollop of tandoori offerings. We shared the Vegetarian Mixed Platter (8pcs $15) for starters before shifting onto a couple of curries, rice and naan breads. All delicious and fresh tasting (not the stodgy been-bubbling-all-day flavour that can typify Indian cuisine). Within walking distance of home, this is definitely a winner. Note: the website doesn’t do justice to the experience.
Do: try the Garlic Naan ($4). It’s divine.
Don’t: be afraid to ask for a “doggy bag” – Indian food is even better re-heated the next day.
Entertainment Book discount: $19
Who remembers when this was The Fishbowl? Times have changed (though the famous dilapidated Ritz Flats remain neglected across the road). Eastern Spice’s claim to fame is being “not your typical Indian joint”. And it lives up to its claim. Spacious dining room, super-friendly staff in brightly coloured vests plus non-traditional serving platters and table settings. Dishes were incredibly well presented – the samosas looked like fine works of art! We were a party of four (no, not date night this time) and decided on the non-vegetarian banquet (samosa, chicken tikka, butter chicken, rogan josh, daal, rice, plain naan, raita & pappadum $39pp) and a couple of bottles of reasonably priced red. It was more than we could manage and a serving or two made it home in a doggy bag for next day’s lunch.
Do: hang around: later in the evening, the lovely, smiley chef/owner likes to visit tables and chat away to patrons.
Don’t: ask me to play favourites between this and Tandoori Cuisine – I can’t split them.
Entertainment Book discount: $25
We’re just a few weeks in to our Entertainment Book journey. Already, we’ve well and truly recovered our $60 outlay. Thumbs up. It’s been a journey of discovery through old favourites and new eateries, we’ve darkened doors we might otherwise not and we’ve added a whole new layer of frugality to date night. Plenty to love about that.
Over to you. Do you have the Entertainment Book (or something similar) in your part of the world? Where have you been lately with your discount card or voucher?
NOTE: This is NOT sponsored content. I’m simply sharing a positive, personal experience.