Sunday, December 14, 2008

Eating Like a Geek

I've yet to write a restaurant review. Truth to tell, I'm not a food connoisseur - I'm more of an omnivore, doing my best to avoid just fast food - an uphill battle, in some corners of the US - and sea food (my motto: anything that lives in the ocean, should stay in the ocean).

But when I heard that uWink is opening a branch near me (through this Wired article), I had to go and check it out.

uWink was created by Nolan Bushnell (famous for creating Atari), and it's a geek heaven: you order and interact through a touchscreen (hiding a Mac Mini). You can choose from several menus (regular, pastas, chef's recommendations etc.) or drinks. You also pay through the terminal, and prove your age - for alcoholic beverages purchase - by swiping your driver's license.

While your food is being prepared, you are encouraged to play a game on the screen - solo, or against your fellow eaters. The games are fun and engaging, so I discourage bringing a date to this restaurant, unless you want to sit with 2 monitors between you smile.

In fact, your only interaction with a human being, is when you are seated and walked through using the system, and when your food is served. Regardless of the limited interaction, the computer system will recommend a 15% tip at the end (but would allow you to dial it down or skip it - I wonder if it saves your name in its DB under "cheap" if you do smile).

But the feature I liked was the ability to "configure" certain dishes. I chose a burger and had tens of options: how will it be cooked, sides (I highly recommend the sweet potatoes fries), toppings, sauces, buns, cheeses... Millions of possible combinations. Same for the drinks and cocktails.
Prices are reasonable, and the atmosphere is nice, considering it's a huge space full of tables with touchscreens.

Currently, uWink has only 3 branches - 2 in LA and one in Mountain View. Hopefully, they'll open more. This unprofessional restaurant critic gives uWink 2 thumbs up.

PS: About the only regret I have about uWink's location, is that it replaces a Californian Bar & Grill that I liked. I hope they just moved and didn't go bankrupt.

1 comment:

avi said...

Isn't it like ordering a take-away through the web?
Ah, and the menu is of simple dishes. Very simple.
And another thing, last week i've been to Park Azorim, but passed on Nurkait. I wonder why :)