Posted by Jackie Judge on 5/25/09
Many people like predictability in their food. They choose the same thing for dinner each night, carefully dividing their plate into neat portions of meat, vegetable, and starch, maybe adding something sweet for dessert. For them, simplicity and familiarity in food is comfortable, soothing, and easy. But what if you’re an adventurous eater? You crave not only variety and surprise in food, but leaps of faith in choosing where to eat. For those of you who spin globes and plunk your finger on a future destination, maybe UrbanSpoon will appeal to your tastes. This nifty device generates a completely random place for you to dine so you don’t have to fret over choices.
The app features a slot machine device that activates by shaking the iPhone, making it interactive for the user. Of course, you could just tap the “shake” button, but where’s the fun in that? The slot machine features 3 revolving columns that focus, from left to right, on location, cuisine, and price. The location is specific enough to include neighborhoods within cities, and the cuisine varies from your run-of-the-mill Chinese and Italian fare to more small-scale snack shops like smoothies, barbeque, and donuts. And don’t feel shortchanged on options: I believe I even saw “Gastropub” as one of the food choices, as well as browsing restaurants based on perks like delivery or late hours. If you don’t feel like completely randomizing your night, you can opt to “lock” one of the options – price, for instance – so that you shake knowing you’ll at least dine in relative frugality.
UrbanSpoon’s greatest strength lies in its randomness generator, but it falls short in the review section. The reviews are mostly critic rather than peer based, with names like the SF Chronicle and Michelin Guide taking precedence. Normally this is a fine thing, but with the success of such sites as Yelp!, peer-based review systems seem to be the latest and greatest, and definitely the most accessible in terms of pedestrian relation. Funnily enough, despite there being little to no user reviews, UrbanSpoon acts like a social networking site, allowing you to access it through Facebook or to tweet it.
Also, UrbanSpoon by Wanderspot, LLC reviews are limited in that it gives you no photos, no directions to the restaurant, no adjoining map, and the voting system is based on a completely black and white choice of “I like it” versus “I don’t.” At first glance, the percentage system seems more accurate than the standard 1-5 star system seen on sites like Yelp!. However, at least the star system allows you a grading scale in case you thought the food wasn’t spectacular but not an outright abomination either.
If you desire a restaurant review site where your locals and neighbors bat opinions back and forth, then maybe UrbanSpoon is not for you. If you simply seek a smarter alternative to flipping a coin, then why not give UrbanSpoon a good, vigorous shake and add several more sides to that coin.
Categorized as: Entertainment,Featured Gallery,Free Apps,Reference,Social Networking,Travel
Tagged as: Food Apps, iwant, UrbanSpoon, Yelp!