Confessions of an Orange Wednesday Addict

JENNY DELL is hovering over ‘Unsubscribe’…

orange wednesday Restaurants vouchers

Every day without fail, and generally at various times in the middle of the night, my phone kindly alerts me to the arrival of a bunch of brand new restaurant offer emails in my inbox. I’m not talking about one per week; it’s a matter of three or four each morning. Admittedly, I’ve probably been splashing my email address around the internet with a more liberal attitude than can be witnessed regularly in Klute, but it’s verging on ridiculous.

Now I’m not adverse to the odd bargain: I was raised by a mother who has been known to do a whole family shop from the reduced section of Tesco, and I don’t think I’ve ever been given a Christmas present which wasn’t purchased in the January sales the year before. But restaurant deals are getting on my nerves…

1. They’re making me hungry and poor
I’ve just woken up, had some pretty boring breakfast and prospects for lunch aren’t looking great, but wait! I could go to Pizza Express and get two pizzas for £10! This is a much better idea! Now I can’t think of anything else to have for lunch… No matter I have plenty of food in my fridge, and very little money in my bank account, this is an extremely good idea, and, plus, it’s a deal, so I just have to use it.

2. They’re ruining dating
Who knows what the protocol is with dates and vouchers? Is it allowed? How many dates do you have to go on before it’s allowed? (Answers on a postcard…) What are you meant to do when every table around you is getting their dinner for half the price your poor date is shelling out, or worse, you’re footing the bill for yourself? While whipping out the half price voucher is a sure way to ruin the romance of an evening, going out for dinner without a deal, particularly when paying for two, seems borderline moronic. Moron or stinge: an impossible dilemma.

3. They prove that when I go to a restaurant without a voucher, I’m being ripped off
I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels a deep sense of guilt at visiting the aforementioned Pizza Express on any day which isn’t a Wednesday; it just seems wrong. Why would I pay full price for anything on the menu, when I could wait a few days and get the whole meal for half the cash. Given the quantity of offers that amass in my inbox over a week, it’s clear that chain restaurants don’t need to charge their standard menu prices to turn over a profit. And then we have Zizzi’s, for which I receive a new voucher every week that, for reasons unknown, can’t be used in Durham. I’m actually tempted to hop on a train to Newcastle in protest, where my voucher will be happily accepted.

In a city like Durham, with so many local restaurants, it seems unfair that big chains are pulling in the customers with deals that independents can’t hope to match. Restaurants including Finbarr's, Oldfield's, Hide, Tia’s, Zen… I could go on for quite while, offer really good quality food in an arguably much more atmospheric setting than chains, which have mastered the disorientating art of looking identical whether you’re in Durham or Devon. Last time I went to Bistro Italiano, our table ended the evening dancing round the room with the staff: the result of slightly too much limoncello. I can’t imagine that happening in Pizza Express.