On the surface, Portland Dining Month seems like a great deal. Participating restaurants pick some combination of appetizer/salad/entree/dessert and they agree to charge $29. So, all around town, the restaurants are giving special discounts.
Eater (Brent’s favorite website) even wrote up a list of the eleven best deals on Portland Dining Month. Brent and I decided to try the number one best deal in town (because we’re frugal and we like to eat food in restaurants) so we headed to Firehouse.
FirehouseCute, right? Photo courtesy of the Oregonian. Read their review here.
Firehouse is a very cute restaurant. Someone with an eye for staying true to the original function of the building turned an old firehouse into a restaurant with a wood-burning pizza oven, a cool bar, and plenty of exposed brick. I liked the pizza oven best of all, because who doesn’t like the idea of a fire in the fire house?
When I told my coworker I was going there for dining month, her response was “oh! I’ve heard good things about that place!” followed almost immediately by, “can you really spend $29 at Firehouse?”
Turns out, you can’t. Not really.
I mean, we did, but we got a lot of food. I had fried cauliflower with lemon cream fraiche dipping sauce to start, then a salad with Humbolt fog and hazelnuts, and a hangar steak. Brent had arancini (fried cheesy risotto balls), a Caesar salad, and a whole pizza. Mine was $29, his was $25. It was too much food. But we’d driven “all the way across town” (it’s five miles from our house) to do dining month, and gosh darn it, we weren’t going to veer off course! The couple next to us told us that they had intended to come to dining month, but got distracted by happy hour and ended up sharing a pizza.
So, is Portland Dining Month a good deal? Probably not. Would I go back to Firehouse? You bet, but if you came to visit, it wouldn’t be on the list, simply because the food is fine, but not any better than any other pizza place (foofy pizza place, let’s be real) in any city in the country. Unless you were here for a long time, or you like cauliflower as much as I do. Because that stuff was great.
However, we did go out on a night where we typically wouldn’t, to a restaurant in a part of town we wouldn’t drive to normally (and still won’t, not at 5:45! what are we, stupid?) and had a lovely date.
So it wasn’t a waste of time. It just wasn’t a good deal.
Total cost: $25 + $29 (would have been $27 + $32 if we’d ordered that much food, which I can assure you, we wouldn’t have)… not much savings.
Conclusion: Eat at Home to Save Money
And when you go out, order what you want! I told Brent I would have been happier with $29 worth of the $5 cauliflower appetizer than with all the other stuff I ate, but I’m quite clearly a weirdo.
Have you been? It’s all month long — will you go?