Give some gift grub
The foodie in your life would be thrilled with a restaurant voucher. Here’s our pick of the best
He doesn’t have the data to back up his hunch, but Adrian Cummins suspects a lot of men buy restaurant vouchers as Christmas gifts. The chief executive of the Restaurants Association of Ireland (RAI) says he “hates shopping”. It may be down to men like him or shopping-phobic women – but the restaurant voucher business has seen big growth, with a 40 to 50 per cent increase in the past two years, Cummins says.
Do restaurant owners dread seeing voucher-carrying customers arrive in January, typically the toughest month? “At least you have customers coming in your doors,” Cummins says. “January can be a very grim month.” Not everyone rushes to spend the voucher in January, he says, so the business can be spread throughout the year.
Why the boom in restaurant voucher giving? “You can cater for all tastes and all customers. Eating out is a treat. That’s what’s behind the explosion in new restaurants and it’s across all demographics.”
The RAI recently signed up over 100 restaurants countrywide to accept the One4all Wheretoeat gift card which can be bought on the One4all website in denominations from €1 to €250.
There’s still plenty of time to buy vouchers directly from restaurants, with many selling them online. Lots of restaurants also do accommodation and run cookery courses so you can buy a really generous gift.
Erik Robson of Dublin’s Ely Wine Bars sees a big rush in voucher sales in the two weeks before Christmas. “I think the fear of vouchers being unsecured, if a business goes bust, is not as prevalent and vouchers are back on Christmas lists. We don’t put an expiry date on ours, which seems to make them a bit more attractive.”
So in answer to the perennial question of “what do you buy the person who has everything?” we say: “Dinner.” And here’s a pick of the best among the stars, stalwarts and new arrivals of 2013.
Buy a restaurant voucher for JP McMahon’s Michelin-starred Aniar restaurant in Galway and you could win a place on one of its cookery workshops for two people. Next year’s workshops feature a “planning a dinner party” day including lunch, where up to six students learn how to make bread, prepare a starter, fish and meat main course and dessert.
52 Dominick Street Lower, Galway, tel: 091-535947;
Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, Dublin
At Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud (pictured) they’ll post your voucher gift to the lucky recipient, send it to you, or have it ready for collection at the restaurant. The amount you spend will be an issue here if you don’t want your recipient to have to dig deep in their own pocket to cover the final bill. They can use it for whole or part payment “any time”, the restaurant says. Lunch is always the best value if you’re on a budget, but weekend lunch sittings get booked up quickly.
21 Upper Merrion Street, Dublin 2;