Over the past year, group-buying sites have sprouted like there’s no tomorrow, providing us with opportunities to dine at a restaurant, pamper ourselves at a spa or salon, and even buy gadgets at very affordable prices, usually at 50% discount. Because of them, more businesses have gained much-needed exposure, especially those that are targeting an already saturated market. And we completely support upcoming businesses or companies, particularly those that have started from humble beginnings. We’re one to give everyone a chance to impress or disappoint us. This time, a restaurant in Caloocan did not just let us down, but completely upset us – Apricot Diner.
If you’ve been following our blog, you know we are not snobs when it comes to food and we get easily pleased. However, because we cook at home and we’re so used to the intense flavors of our homemade dishes (not bragging! It’s a fact and we can proudly prove that), we can sometimes be very critical about dishes at a restaurant, especially when the prices are too steep for what they served us. If I’m going to spend over 500 for a buffet or even just one dish, you better serve me something good.
Before I tell you about how our dinner at Apricot Diner went, let me tell you first about how this all started. I saw this deal last year on MetroDeal for 58% discount vouchers from Apricot Diner, who claim to be offering an “Eat-All-You-Can International Fusion Buffet”. As you can see, the photos they used were enticing, which I now think were taken from Google Images or somewhere else.
I honestly had doubts because they’re located in Caloocan, but, again, we’re all for supporting restaurants that aren’t that known yet. There might be a gem there somewhere.
So, to clarify this, they were offering Php 600 value of food from their eat-all-you-can buffet for just Php 250. The description had me sold, but I did a little digging first. At that time, there were nothing really substantial written about them yet, so I just crossed my fingers that they’ll deliver to their promise of “… finest foods”. I thought of bringing my 2 best friends with me and Ken so I bought 4 vouchers in total, for a total of Php 1,000.
When August 2011 came when we can finally use the vouchers, a fellow blogger narrated about her bad experience with Apricot Diner. She posted about her experience on her blog in FULL detail. There was even a Twitter war that started after that because the owner, who had his own account, started posting about maarte and demanding customers. As much as I want to go into detail about this (like the mention of Dora, not the explorer), I’d rather focus on OUR experience. So, if you want to read my fellow blogger’s experience, click here. I actually responded to the owner on Twitter and told him that a customer has the right to complain and he has to take their feedback seriously.
After that incident, I had thoughts of giving away my vouchers to whomever is wiling to give them a chance. Nonetheless, I gave them the benefit of the doubt that they’d improve after what happened.
Fast forward to January 14, 2012, Saturday. I tried calling for reservations a couple of weeks before, but they didn’t have any buffet schedules, even when on the deal page, they mentioned that they have both lunch and dinner buffet on Fridays til Sundays. And when I finally got a reservation for the 14th, I dragged my nanay along with me, Ken and my BFF Tina so we can visit their place. The vouchers were expiring on February 1st so we just had to use it now while we’re all available.
Before we even got to their location, my companions were trying to convince me to go somewhere else instead. But I said I paid Php 1,000 for the vouchers, which should amount to Php 2,400 (Php 600 value each) in total value, so we should at least give them a chance.
We took a cab going there and the driver overheard me saying I paid Php 600 for each of us. When we reached Apricot Diner, the driver exclaimed, “Php 600?! Dyan na lang tayo sa Red Dragon sa tapat, Php 120 lang, dalawang order na ng masarap na pagkain yun.” (He was saying that for Php 120, we can get more value from Red Dragon, the restaurant in front of the diner).
We all laughed and were having second thoughts about eating at Apricot Dinr because they don’t seem to be offering food worth Php 600. I did my best to convince everyone to stay with me since we might be surprised with their food. They all agreed, and involuntarily went in to the diner.
Now, let me go back to the description on their page:
(If you want to view the full version of the details on the voucher when I purchased it, click here)
Those I highlighted are what I would now consider FALSE ADVERTISING promises they included on their deal page. Not sure if it was written by Metro Deal or they did so themselves, but spacious?! Even my slim friends will complain about how small their diner is. And where’s the “abundance of new dishes to try”? *sigh* Read on.
They said “stylish up-market interior”, right? They look more like a hole-in-the-wall diner. I would’ve been okay with that if they didn’t oversell themselves when they posted that deal. I don’t want to comment on that anymore since I went there for the food with the hopes that they would actually be at least above average for the Php 600 value they were offering.
When we got there, there were no tables available. But, they cleared the one closest to the buffet area. You should’ve seen the disappointment in all our faces when we finally saw the buffet and the food they were serving that night.
That’s the eat-all-you-can buffet they were offering for Php 600?!?! Are they frigging serious?!?! Yeah, that is exactly what we wanted to exclaim, but we didn’t want to be rude. Yakimix is charging Php 580 (Php 499 on weekdays) for unlimited food at their restaurant, and this is all the food we’d get from Apricot Diner?!
Even after that initial madness, I told my companions to calm down and just try the food to see if, MAYBE, they taste really good, and MAYBE, that’ll make up for everything.
The verdict? Cold to slightly warm food. The two pasta available were bland. The beef dish was over-the-top salty. The soup wasn’t hot or even warm, not even tasty; too much flour texture-wise. The chicken and the ribs was slightly okay if their sauce wasn’t too ketchup-y to our taste, and if the chicken wasn’t overcooked. Not to mention there were not a lot of choices. They even mixed different dishes in their buffet pans.
Looks can be deceiving.
By the way, while I was taking photos of the buffet, I sw the owner and asked him for a menu so I can take note of the dishes they were serving. He looked at me blankly and ignored my request. He was refilling one of the buffet pans, so I thought I’d just brush it off since he might be too tired already with all the cooking. Yes, dammit. I was on a very good and forgiving mood that night.
We were trying to be respectful, so we finished off our food even after all the disappointment. Ken, who’s usually more blunt between the two of us, tried his best not to say anything. We didn’t want to waste our time fighting or arguing with the staff since we all were in a happy mood before we got there and we didn’t want to ruin our night. We just exchanged glances while silently laughing and muttering comments. We were trying to be positive, you see.
I teased Ken and my friend Tina that we should get more ribs just so I won’t feel completely bad about spending Php 1,000 for their food. If you’re wondering, I wouldn’t pay Php 250 (the amount I paid for each discounted voucher) for their food there. I’ll gladly add Php 230 and get way better food from Lola Maria’s.
I was so disappointed by the whole experience that I just had to go somewhere else to feel better. We ended up in Trinoma and went to Parvati again (I’ll write about the new desserts we’ve tried next time). While enjoying our much-needed desserts, we laughed at how ridiculous I was to buy those vouchers to eat at Apricot Diner. While we were there, I accessed Apricot Diner’s Facebook page and learned that they were offering a price of Php 300 for the buffet. Are they kidding me?!?!
So, if you’re going to analyze the whole situation, I was tricked. I only paid Php 250 each for 4 Php 600-value vouchers, and we got the same treatment and amount of food as those who paid Php 300. Good job, Apricot Diner. They should’ve offered a different menu for those who bought the voucher. And, yes, I gave them my vouchers so they’re well aware.
I know, you might be saying that I should’ve said something. But, I didn’t bother. I didn’t want to further piss off myself and my companions. Plus, I knew it wasn’t worth it. I’ve given them enough benefit of the doubt for one night.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m calm even as I’m writing this. I’m upset, yes. But, if you really know me, you’d probably say I’m too kind with this post. I just had to write about this experience here because, obviously, Apricot Diner (and I mean everyone responsible for running the whole diner) did not take the complaints of my fellow blogger seriously. No improvements were done (maybe except for the clean dishes), especially with the temperature of the food. Who would want to eat cold pasta or soup!?
Because of this experience, I don’t think I’d be buying any more vouchers from Metro Deal. I don’t trust that they screen businesses well enough. Maybe, I’ll try buying from them again, but not anytime soon. It better be a very good deal before I do. I wonder what the other buyers of this particular voucher has to say.
If you’ve reached this page because you want to visit Apricot Diner and you’re looking for a review, I would recommend spending your money elsewhere. If you live somewhere close to their location, yes, sure, it’ll be pretty convenient to go there. But, if you’re after discovering new restaurants and you live somewhere else, in my opinion, it’s not worth all the time, effort and money.
If you’ve been to their Facebook page, you’d see posts from people complimenting them about their food. We all think they’re friends or acquaintances of the Apricot Diner staff. When we were there, diners were mostly students who probably lived nearby, and people who know the owners. I just don’t believe the overly positive comments they’re getting on there, sorry.
The people behind Apricot Diner seem to not care enough to improve their food and service after a bad review (that I think was justified, by the way). And I’m expecting to get a backlash of anonymous comments spewing all sorts of mockery or negativity after this post, but, like them, I don’t care. I don’t even care enough to give them a “Just Okay” rating nor even mention where they’re exactly located.
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