I'm a writer/editor at the New York Times and have been asked to do an article for the E-Commerce section on ordering lunch and dinner online.
I've never done it myself and am not sure how many places offer this service or how it works. Would be grateful to hear of anyone's experiences in this brave new world.
Hee. I didn't think you'd get much response, David. The kinds of restaurants who do such things are the dreaded middle ones that chowhounds hate. Not the small places where a sole proprieter/chef works hard and pridefully to serve deliciousness (and has no time, no budget to get hooked up with online shticky experiments), and not the high end ones that are, at best, artistic in what they do (and don't do a whole lotta delivery).
Just the middle places owned by guys who used to be in the lawn furniture biz but switched to restaurants because they heard there's lots of money in it. A dark, dead, super-commercialized realm of undeliciousness.
That said, I'm sure there are exceptions, of course...probably a couple of good places that do online orders.
And, for that matter, reading takeout menues and faxing orders works beautifully. Most office workers have this down to science. Clicking buttons on a screen is not an innately efficient or amusing practice.
re: Jim Leff
When David posted a few weeks ago about kid-friendly restaurants in NJ (Tristate board), I was the only one to respond on the boards. But he quoted a bunch of Chowhounds in his article. I'm guessing people emailed him privately about this, too -- which is what I did this time.
I have to disagree with you about the quality of restaurants that allow online ordering and its overall usefulness. I find ordering online (Food.com) a good move for takeout/delivery.
First, if you're a little disorganized like I am, you don't have to worry about losing menus. Second, you can personalize your order pages with your favorite restaurants/meals. You don't have to worry about the phone being busy or the order taker having a language problem. It's easy to set your pickup/delivery time. It can even validate your credit card.
It's not just middle-of-the-road restaurants with boring food that allow you to order online. I've ordered Chinese and a bunch of good pizza from non-chain places. (In fact, the chains -- Pizza Hut et al -- seem a little slow in allowing online ordering, though Uno seemed to be big on Food.com.) It's not a perfect system, but it is useful.
Then again, I like Tex-Mex.
re: Jim Leff
Gotta disagree with this. Evergreen Shanghai, Ariana Kebab House and Tandoori Club are but a few of the restaurants that have spiced up my lunchtimes on days when I don't have a spare second to leave the office or the energy to talk to yet another person on the phone. A few clicks on nydelivery.com or nytogo.com and lunch is nearly served. They may not get five stars from Chowhound, but they beat the absolute hell out of the Au Bon Pain sandwiches my co-workers are choking down.
BTW, the ribboned bean curd with preserved cabbage and shredded pork from Evergreen, any kebab or the pumpkin curry from Ariana and the lamb biryani from Tandoori Club are really some of the best lunches you're gonna get in Midtown.