Friday, July 18, 2008

Restaurant Searches Via iPhone

Users of the iPhone have automatic access to Urbanspoon, a restaurant-search software program that is supposed to recommend good restaurants in close proximity.

But, in this article a few days ago, the N.Y. Times' Frank Bruni reports that the recommendations he got via the iPhone seemed incomplete.

In the NYT article, Bruni writes:

If you were searching for a restaurant that would please almost anyone, Dressler, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, might well be it. Good-looking? Definitely. Menu? Contemporary American, with a mix of fish, meat and meatless options. Its prices aren’t stratospheric, its vibe is relaxed and its reviews have been solid. It even picked up a Michelin star last year.

So why didn’t the new iPhone want me to go there? I was standing smack in front of Dressler, using the phone’s Urbanspoon restaurant-search application, which was supposed to pinpoint my location and recommend the best options nearby.

I shook the iPhone, which is how you activate a search. It directed me to a wine bar several blocks away.

I shook again. It directed me to an Italian restaurant all the way over the Williamsburg Bridge, in the East Village.

With another shake, a Williamsburg coffeehouse came up, and with yet another shake it was back to the East Village. Even when I specified “Williamsburg” as my preferred neighborhood and “American” as my preferred cuisine, Dressler didn’t come up right away.

It was a laggard, an afterthought, and thus revealed the foibles and limitations of the Internet dining guides to which more and more of us are turning for help.

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