Australians are lucky to live in a country with such a fantastic variety of excellent restaurants. We boast the best coffee, pizza and gelato in the world, and love our food more than most.
The only problem is that we’ve become reliant on services like Deliveroo and Uber Eats, which isn’t ideal given how many drivers speak out about earning less than minimum wage, and many restaurants grumble about how much of a cut those services take (and how often customers are refunded due to driver errors). It’s also meant attendance at restaurants has been down, with people choosing to eat at home which has been ruining the “vibe” of restaurants for some.
Enter Zomato Gold, the subscription service that’s specifically designed to get people eating and drinking out at restaurants and bars again, instead of the comfort of their own homes.
The way it works is that at select times you can subscribe for $39 for six months, or $59 for a full year. Then, when you visit participating restaurants you can get either buy one, get one free dish, or buy two get two free drinks. For couples and particularly hungry singles who dine out often, that could add up to a big saving over the life of the subscription.
I’ve had my subscription for a few weeks now, and it’s been great to discover fantastic new Melbourne restaurants like Cooking Corner (I am still dreaming of the tempura fish bao), and rediscover old favourites like Teja’s Modern Indian and Nong Tang Noodle House.
While I expected to use the app to buy one dish for me and get one for my wife to save money, my wife the foodie had other ideas, so we’ve just taken the opportunity to order more dishes and take a chance on foods we might not have tried otherwise. This is probably what the restaurants are banking on, but completely negates any possible savings from the subscription price.
It also saw us dining out a lot more in the beginning, which is similarly wonderful for the economy and restaurants, and less good for my wallet and waistline. This puts us in line with Zomato’s internal stats, which show that Gold users dine out three times as often as non-subscribers.
What’s been interesting is noticing how many of the Zomato Gold restaurants also feature on the free app ‘Eat Club’, which offers time-limited discounts off your whole bill, and doesn’t require any subscription fee.
It makes sense for the owners, given that these places have presumably already built-in a good discount cushion to their prices, so giving out one free dish per table isn’t going to break the budget. But that does limit the value proposition of Zomato Gold, as there has been more than one occasion when we’ve opted to use EatClub instead as it’s offered a larger saving off our total bill.
Gold is dine in only — no takeaway, no delivery — while Eat Club users can usually choose whether to take away or dine in. The only benefits Gold has over Eat Club is that the free dish or drinks are available any time, whereas Eat Club is limited to certain hours of the restaurant’s choosing. Plus Gold has far, far more venues on offer.
In India, the home of Zomato, Gold offers members lots of exclusive festivals, events and deals, some of which will presumably end up here eventually.
At first I was pretty sceptical about adding yet another subscription service to my collection, but because we live so centrally we were really able to take advantage of it early on, though our usage has dropped off a bit as the weeks passed. It’s certainly not something that’s going to work for everyone, but if you tend to go to partner restaurants (in the CBD and surrounding suburbs) more than five times every six months, the membership pays for itself and might net enough savings to let you dine out more often.