Deer Duck Bistro – You disappoint

(Since writing this review, I have been contacted by Nicholas, the owner of Deer Duck. Please take your time to also read his comments and my reply below. Although I thought I would never want to return to Deer Duck Bistro, that is no longer the case. The simple act of taking time to read and politely acknowledge what I’ve written tells me this is someone who cares and I would be happy to visit again for a better experience!)

Mike and I purchased a Groupon Voucher ($99) for a 4-course meal (with a glass of wine) for 2 at Deer Duck Bistro.

We finally redeemed it yesterday (Friday) with high expectations. Boy, little did we know!


Our reservations were for 7pm and we were promptly shown to our seats. Quirky seating arrangements, I loved the long sofas, but the decor looked tired.


We were handed menus and offered our glasses of wine. Both of us chose red and were given Sacred Earth Clarendon Hills Onkaparinga Grenache 2007 – We were pretty sure we didn’t get a full serving. The wine was good, but when you can buy it for $5/bottle, I feel a little ripped off.



This was the menu offered on Groupon when we purchased our vouchers:

deer duck bistro menu

The menu we received. There were a few changes that were a little disappointing, which I will mentioned as we go.


First to arrive was our entree: Share platter of meats, dips, terrines & freshly baked breads.


Our visual impression was, “Not bad!” The bread crisp was interesting, the house marinated olives were delicious, the fish (herring I think) was nicely seasoned and the pate with carmelized onions was quite tasty. But the house baked bread was dry, terrine and the other meat were both not very flavourful, and the homemade hummus was quite bland.


Then onto our mains. Our Groupon voucher stated we were supposed to get a side of either potatoes or vegetables but it was not available to us.

It took way too long for the mains to come out – we waited nearly 45 minutes! In addition, both our dishes were already going cold when it came out. Why did it take so long for our food to be served cold?!

Mike got the Prosciutto rolled chicken ballotine, parsnip & pear puree, whipped saffron potato, chicken jus


Flavours were okay but this is not the size of a main dish, compounded by the fact we didn’t get a side dish as well.

I got the Duck trio, baby leek, apple, fennel, fondant potato, and baby vegetables.


Do you see any baby leek, apple, fennel or baby vegetables? None. Instead, both our dishes are adorned by a couple little pieces of carrot, asparagus and radish. Barely enough for a few mouthfuls let alone compliment a protein dish. I’ve mentioned it before in other posts, but when the same vegetables are showing up on multiple plates, it’s not for flavour, only decoration. Unfortunate, because all 3 duck meats were really delicious, although why is the duck breast plated skin down? Why?

After finishing our mains, we proceeded to wait for our cheese platter to share. We waited and waited and waited. What on earth takes so long for a dish that doesn’t even require cooking?

The menu said: Cheese plate, lavosh, house baked breads, fresh & dry fruits.

Look at the plate that finally came out…



Old grapes, 1 strawberry sliced in half, and the same dry bread and bread crisps (not lavosh) as the entree plate. 2 slices of cheddar cheese and a wedge of brie, compared to Millawa goat blue and Pont Leveque cheese on the Groupon menu. Not the same cheeses as advertised deal, which was a disappointment because we felt these cheeses weren’t as special and possibly cheaper substitutes.

By now, we were both frustrated and unimpressed at the quality of the food. After a full day at the clinic, we were also quite tired which didn’t help.

Again, we waited and waited for dessert to come out, which was no longer a surprise.

Mike got the Lemon meringue roulade. Why on earth is there burnt crumbled meringue on the plate? We have no idea.


I got the chocolate Chocolate tart with chocolate ice cream. The good thing about this dessert? The ice cream and berries underneath. The tart was not even close to being decadent, I probably could’ve found something tastier in the Coles bakery aisle.


We left immediately after dessert around 9:30pm. It took us 2.5 hours to finish a “4-course meal” where only one dish required cooking. Unbelievable.

Although service was friendly and polite (dishes promptly cleared, never had to ask for water), the dishes were not true to the menu we were given, the quality of food was sub-par, and the wait times were unacceptable. We also noticed that some dining tables had a direct view of the toilet and at one point during dinner service, a less-than-impressed diner had to actually get up and close the door.

Our dinner was most definitely not worth the amount we paid. For the quality of food we received, we would never come back and pay the regular prices. Heck, even if the same Groupon deal was available again we wouldn’t consider buying it. This dinner was possibly the worst dining experience we’ve had this year, what a waste of time and money. 😦

Deer Duck Bistro on Urbanspoon


11 thoughts on “Deer Duck Bistro – You disappoint

  1. Magdeline says:

    Wow! I’m taking my BFF to dinner at this restaurant tonight to celebrate her 60th and you’ve got me worried!! I hope I wont be embarrassed! I too like to use groupons, scoopons etc and tell others about good and bad experiences (only by word of mouth) and appreciate reading reviews online. I’ll let you know about our experiences later.

    • Sandra Nguy says:

      Hi Magdeline! Thanks for taking the time to read my post! Although my night had a few flops, I hope you really enjoy your night out! Would love to hear what your thoughts are later! 🙂

  2. Nicholas says:

    Hi Sandra
    Im very sorry you did not enjoy your time at Deer Duck.I have read some of the above comments and while i agree, if correct, the wait times are too long.
    But can i say our customers in general, usually like too take there time and on a Saturday 2.5 hrs is not normally a issue with people enjoying the night.
    You may also not be aware that we have two dinning area’s upstairs doing another 40 people as well.
    I just wanted to address the Whole Groupon thing .Many Restaurants dont like to use these deals as you do actually attract a particular type of clientele,however,if a business takes on a Groupon deal they should use it as a tool not to make money ,but as one to generate a opportunity to have new customers come in.
    What alot of people dont realize is that out of the $99 you have outlaid the restaurant only gets about $60.
    So when you are getting a platter,two mains,cheese,two desserts and two glasses of wine it is almost impossible to make money .Infact the only money is made is if the wait staff can upsell more wine or coffee.
    I have a few Restaurants that have asked me if it is worth the exercise,and to be honest probably not.It is ok if you restrict the bookings on a Friday and Saturday,and push these deals through mid week.We have tried not to do this.

    In saying that we have had many,many people love the deal,Doctors,lawyers,etc etc,all say they have had a amazing time.But in general the 10% of people that review us on urbanspoon are not the people who have loved but those who didnt.

    And this is why you will find less Restaurants doing such deals.It just is not worth the bad publicity verses the money made.I am truely sorry that Deer duck,did not met your expectations.This is the first review that i have ever responded too.I just think people need to be aware of the fact ,that the business does not get all that money.Also the businesses can have to wait up to three months to get their money.

    Anyway i sorry again that you were tired on Saturday night and then had wait,i have read that sleeping is your favourite hobbie and maybe this was a contributing factor.

    If your in the area again we would like to have you in,as a guest on us,prehaps not on a weekend,so that we can spoil you a little bit.

    • Sandra Nguy says:

      Hi Nicholas,

      First of all, thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my blog, I really appreciate it.

      Secondly, thank you for explaining how Groupon works. Although I am familiar with the system and understand that sometimes it takes months for businesses to be paid, many others may not. With that being said, that is exactly why I always expect food and service that is on par with regular priced meals. By offering customers a discounted meal through these vouchers, restaurants are taking a hit in profits but hopefully making an investment in winning over customers who will return in the future.

      Your staff was great to us, very kind, dishes were always promptly cleared off the table and our water was continuously topped up. The disappointment in service was the very long wait times in between courses, especially when only the main dish was cooked and it came out cold 😦 We most definitely enjoyed sitting around talking in between courses but we would have preferred even more to be talking over food. It was hard to understand what was taking so long when the dishes only required ready-made components to be put on the dish.

      Thirdly, I also completely understand that by offering a number of dishes per sitting, rather than simply 1 or 2 courses, you are taking a further hit on profits. However, I do believe that a restaurant should deliver on what it promised:

      a) Changing the menu items is completely reasonable and up to the discretion of the restaurant, however, the removal of something initially included (ie. a side dish) will be a little upsetting, especially when the main dish is a smaller portion.
      b) Serving dishes that are true to the descriptions in the menu (ie. the duck trio)

      As for the quality of food, I believe everyone has their own tastes and not everyone will agree on the same thing. I loved the flavours and textures of my duck, but I found my dessert lacking. Others may say the same or something completely different. And of course, it depends on the kitchen as well.

      I assure you, I do not fall in the 10% of Urbanspoon reviewers who only review when they’ve had a negative experience. I have reviewed many places I’ve visited and over 95% of them were positive experiences. I love blogging and would much rather share and recommend a place I’ve enjoyed, it is just unfortunate that my visit at Deer Duck Bistro was not one of them.

      Last but certainly not least; although I thought I would never want to return to Deer Duck Bistro, you’ve changed my mind. Thank you for acknowledging my thoughts. I feel like any restaurant owner who takes his time to read and respond to a customer’s blog is someone who obviously cares. Thank you also for your kind offer of having me in as a guest on the house, however, when I have the opportunity, I will be happy to return as a paying customer.

      Although I will be keeping my blog post the way it is, I have added a note to the top directing any readers to also read your comments, as well as mine, for a better understanding of my experience with Deer Duck Bistro.

      Thank you for your time Nicholas, sorry about such a long post!

  3. Urbanspoon sux says:

    Groupon vouchers and deal chasers are sucking the life and quality out of the industry and i wish restaurateurs would ignore them so companies like these go away!!! Anyone who expects to receive the same quality and standards of produce on budget deals is just naive. I would suggest you actually spend money rather than trying to dine like a tightarse.

    • ilikefood says:

      I think the idea is to promote the business with the deal, in order to gather repeat business at regular price with the potential bonus of word of mouth promotion. If the food quality or service is lacking, I think its counterproductive. I dont see what this has to do with anyone being a “tightarse”.

      • Urbanspoon sux says:

        ilikefood, you’re assuming that’s the type of clientele restaurateurs want back again!!! Huge assumption! Most will just do it to boost cash flow to cover a short-term problem like raising capex for equipment, refurb, etc. Deal chasers have no loyalty and just follow the next deal. Wonder how many restaurants use groupon offers more than once! Groupon, the new entertainment card – and we all know how that went!!

    • Sandra Nguy says:

      Although I agree that companies like Groupon can be not the best for the industry, restaurants are the ones that choose to participate. If they do, it can be for the reasons that “ilikefood” said.

      As international students on a budget, we can’t just afford to blow away money on any restaurant we want, especially if we don’t even know if we like the place. These deals provide us with the opportunity not only to try new places in the city, but if the quality is good – we will make a point to go back.

      I think it’s perfectly reasonable to expect the same quality and standards of produce when using a voucher. And honestly – we’ve enjoyed ourselves immensely at other restaurants in the past with these deals.

      As a reviewer on Urbanspoon, I am simply sharing my experiences with other people. I share the good points and the more negative points, if they come up. And it looks like we weren’t the only ones who didn’t enjoy their dinner, as others on Urbanspoon have mentioned the same things.

      Anyway, I appreciate your comments and your visit to my blog.

  4. Harry says:

    I don’t know about Australia, but here, there is a “Groupon Promise” – and you can ask for a refund if you are disappointed with your experience.
    Assuming they have something similar over there, I’d let them know! $99?! that price is too damn high for crappy food and service.

    Think of how many mcdonalds you could have gotten with that!

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