The Chicago edition of BlackboardEats, which serves up restaurant and retail food deals exclusive to its subscribers, launches today. The site already operates in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.
How does it work? Much like other sites. Sign up as a suscriber, then watch your inbox each week for deals and passcodes. You have 24 hours to retrieve a passcode; the deal -- typically 30 percent off -- is valid for between 30 to 60 days.
Generally, restaurant deals are posted on Tuesdays and Thursdays and products on Wednesdays, but the Chicago edition is starting slowly, with one deal a week on Thursdays.
The first deal is a doozy -- a $60, five-course, "flavor-tripping" prix fixe at Ing, 951 W. Fulton, courtesy of miracle fruit-crazy chef Homaro Cantu. The meal comes with two drinks, though you could argue it's four -- with your taste buds under the influence of miracle berry, the drinks themselves will change flavors as you tipple.
At the helm of BlackboardEats Chicago is writer and chef (and Sun-Times contributor) Louisa Chu, who likens the site to the recently launched Gilt Taste and Open Sky, both of which rely on well-known voices (Ruth Reichl, Tom Colicchio) to recommend restaurants and products. (Other Chicago writers pitching in editorially for Blackboard Eats include David Hammond and Lisa Shames, also Sun-Times contributors.)
The deals won't all be high-end, says Chu. There is one in the works, for example, with Calumet Fisheries on the Southeast Side.
Ultimately, says Chu, the goal of Blackboard Eats Chicago is to get us off our butts.
"So many of us talk about the great restaurants and chefs we really love and yet, the last time we've been there was five years ago," she says.