Have you ever browsed through a restaurant menu and wondered if you would even bother asking the waiter a series of questions that might throw off the service? As diners and modern-day food consumers we are starting to ask more questions: calorie content, diet options, which wine goes well with the main course, and if opting for dessert is even an option at all. In an information- and knowledge-driven society, we know how we can get the information we need in an instant. Restaurants, however, are pretty straightforward when it comes to their creativity; they have competent waiters, they write down the menu, you place your order. Until, of course, the iPad came into the picture.
The iPad proves to be one of the more interesting and profitable inventions in the market today. Although there have been some initial discussions as to the usefulness of this device since a bulk of its functions can be found in smartphones, the iPad proves to have the edge when it comes to more specific and company-based functions.
A growing iPad function, which will eventually catch a substantial wave, is the device being used as a menu card. Imagine getting the touch-screen menu that will feed all the information you will need before placing that order: what does the dish look like? How big is it? What are my side dish options? Would I like the halibut better than the red snapper? What’s the difference anyway? All these questions may be answered by the menu as, by nature, an iPad is maximized when online. Hence, the iPad menu also becomes a resource tool, which can also easily give you some sneak-in time to check update your Tweets and Facebook status should the restaurant’s firewall does not block these sites.
Of course having an iPad menu can be very impressive and convenient. What comes to mind basically is like ordering something online in which you check certain specifics that you want in your dish. Meat? Check. Rare, medium-rare, medium, well-done — check. Want to take out the broccoli in your side dish? Check. And then as you place your order, the iPad can be programmed to automatically send the dish preferences without having that discussion with the waiter. These applications can go as far as the imagination and the technology allows it, from self-ordering systems to an instant culinary reference you can browse through while you’re eating. It’s like having dinner at Les Instant Shopping Cart!
The iPad menu application — which is starting to pick up the monicker “menupad”— is currently being developed in some parts of the world and in some restaurants at the home front. In Australia, the Global Mundo Tapas in the Rydges Hotel is already using these menu pads which are handed out to their diners. In Japan, companies such as Sharp are also venturing into application development for such smart devices. Some restaurants here in the U.S. are picking up the trend as well, like this upscale restaurant in Atlanta that uses its iPad to present its extensive wine list.
Now that we are in a generation of real-time information feed, what is the verdict on replacing our lovely servers with a sleek,, $500-800 device? It’s hard to tell at this point as human interaction still tops everything.. but then this function is pretty cool! I guess if you want a fully or partially automated experience, the iPad menu is a good resort. Just keep in mind — your menu will never tell you which dish he or she would personally recommend, or which neighborhood salon gives the best deal on eyelash perm. And you still have to tip your server, no matter what.