10/28/2011 04:35 pm ET Updated Dec 28, 2011

Groupon Reserve Offers Invitation-Only Fine Dining Deals

In the wake of the launch of LivingSocial Gourmet, Groupon has launched its own high-end dining deal program in New York: Groupon Reserve. Available only by invitation, Groupon Reserve targets more affluent diners with higher priced deals. The first deal, sent out yesterday to select subscribers, offered a $70 three-course tasting menu for two at Bice, a New York Italian restaurant.

Based solely on this deal, it seems like Groupon is courting people who have money, rather than foodies who are willing to spend money when the restaurant is good enough. Bice is an overpriced Italian restaurant with a predictable (though that doesn't mean bad) menu. Moreover, it is located in Midtown -- not exactly a neighborhood that most in-the-know diners choose to frequent, save for a few restaurants. But, when the average pasta course is about $27 and a meat dish rings in at over $30, the $70 prix fixe could be a decent deal...though we can think of plenty of better Italian restaurants that will cost you less.

In contrast, LivingSocial Gourmet's first deal was to Washington, DC restaurant CityZen, often called one of the city's best. However, the $250 tasting menu offering is considerably more expensive that Groupon's $70 three-courses.

It seems like both Groupon Reserve and LivingSocial Gourmet are trying to battle Gilt City for their share of the daily deal upscale market. It remains to be seen if either company will be able to win.