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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Discount Site BlackboardEats Makes a Play for Foodie Insiders

Posted By on Tue, Mar 8, 2011 at 3:16 PM

click to enlarge Betelnut's salt-and-pepper sweetbreads, one of four dishes available to BlackboardEats subscribers. - SARA KRAUS PHOTOGRAPHY/BLACKBOARDEATS
  • Sara Kraus Photography/BlackboardEats
  • Betelnut's salt-and-pepper sweetbreads, one of four dishes available to BlackboardEats subscribers.

Coupon deals are the club-night postcards cluttering up your windshield, so how does a deal site get noticed? The six-month-old San Francisco franchise of BlackboardEats is hoping to stand out, not just by pimping percent-off deals to the masses, but by framing the discounts as insider perks for foodies eager for so-called secret menus. Example: The offal-centric Malaysian dishes available starting today at Betelnut for subscribers to BlackboardEats, part of a 60-day promotion.

BlackBoard Eats launched first in New York, then L.A. Amy Sherman, the site's San Francisco editor, says the Betelnut menu is a first here, though she previously engineered an upsized tasting menu for BlackboardEats members at Mr. Pollo. The way it works: Deals are announced Tuesdays and Thursdays, and you have 24 hours to log onto the BE site, subscribe, and download a special passcode. Then, when you make reservation at a participating restaurant you mention the code, or just recite it to the waiter (or flash it on your phone's screen). Discounts are typically 30 percent, and it normally it costs $1 to download the code, but ― for Betelnut ― the buck service fee is being waived.

The Betelnut thing is good for the whole table (parties up to six), even if only one diner is a subscriber ― dishes are served family-style anyway. Chef Alex Ong's four items include crispy chicken livers with black pepper sauce ($9.88); cured lamb tongue with galangal, lime,and crispy taro ($11.88); salt-and-pepper veal sweetbreads ($12.88); and fish-head tamarind curry ($15.88). And, really, if you had any doubts that BlackboardEats' model calls for enlisting self-selecting foodies, Ong's menu of innards should stand as proof.

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