In the last few weeks, twitter has been a wash here in Edmonton with talk of Groupon. The service it seems, will save you, the subscriber, anywhere from 50% to 90% on everything from food to spas. I’m not really one for signing up to email lists, or untested Interweb programs, so I didn’t think twice about skimming over the tweets. Yet, here I was standing outside of Twisted Fork with a Groupon coupon. See, while I had passed on the program, Sarah had not. It’s a good thing too, because the $15 that she spent to get us in, translated to $35 on paper. Too good to be true? With neither of us having a wide gamut of Twisted Fork experience to draw on, this ‘deal’ gave us the motivation to go back.
We arrived to an empty room, and one that reminded me more of a bar than restaurant. Which can almost be said about the menu which follows the standard mix of pub fare; burgers, steak, pasta. Initially thinking we could get a lot for our money, we changed our plan of trying a handful of cheaper items after we sat down and eventually selected two of their top priced dishes. Sarah ordered the Cajun Rib Eye & Shrimp – Hand-cut 10oz. Rib Eye rubbed in our own Cajun blend and topped with grilled prawns. Served with starch of the day and fresh market vegetables. Ordering the steak to be on the rarer side of medium rare, what arrived was totally overcooked, and showed no-sign of the colour we both hoped for. The advertised rub was non-existent on the meat and seemed like it was sprinkled on the shrimp after they were cooked. And boy were they cooked; I could have used the hard, rubbery shrimp as a ping pong ball. I don’t remember the last time I was served shrimp so far gone. The starch of the day was rice, which combined with the cream sauce vegetables made for probably the best part of the meal.
Always wiling to push the seafood button, I ordered the Baked Salmon – Salmon filet dressed with garlic, lemon and basil. Served over wild rice with fresh market vegetables. The salmon arrived well cooked, to that classic old school approach of super flaky (notice it’s already falling apart when it arrives). Call me a stickler, but I’d really like to see more restaurants under cook their fish and let the diners revel in the fresh juicy taste. The advertised lemon, garlic, and basil, tasted more like the butter they baked it in, while the wild rice, was no more wild than Sarah’s, and included the same mix of creamed vegetables.
With the kitchen staff, and wait staff, were serving just our table for 90% of our stay (and even then it was just one other couple), I can’t help but wonder why the meal was so poorly prepared. Overcooking fish is one thing, but taking a steak from reddish/pink to completely brown is another. On top of that, I thank my lucky stars we had the Groupon coupon to use, as the price-to-quality ratio seems right out the door from this experience. I’m glad we went to Twisted Fork, just as I’m glad we were able to put our first Groupon coupon to use, but unless things change in the kitchen, I don’t think I’ll come back anytime soon.
*In a surprising tone of voice, our server mentioned the Groupon promotion had put a a considerable amount of people in the restaurant lately. This had me wonder how good these deals are for the participants, and how much Groupon takes. Will it be worth it for food service establishments to continue, or will the low profit margins many restaurants already face be a serious deterrent?