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iPad ordering- trend or new standard?

I like the iPad idea- one could dig deeper into a menu- sources of the ingredients, cooking techniques, alternative offerings (same dish, but made with veal instead of pork?) or alternative sauces for the same protein. Comparison charts for wine, rating acidity and characteristics, including parings by dish. Detailed descriptions of each offerings, etc.

Yes, a truly good server will know all these things. Yes, a truly good server can make suggestions the diner might not otherwise consider. Yes, a truly good server embodies hospitality, and that will never be done by an iPad.

But I like it. I like adding on to my meal as I go, I like controlling the pace of the meal. I like getting my bill whenever I damn well please.

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  1. Yes, and................a truly good server is a cost that has 'truly good value' with 'truly good food'. I see the iPad thing as a cost-saving measure for the more generic restaurant world. The information the iPad can provide would still be helpful in that world but not as much as where I really don't think this idea will ever reach. If I walked in for my reservation at The French Laundry and they handed me an iPad.............. I think I'd turn around and walk out.

    There's another topic here, somewhere, from someone who said they were doing academic research on this subject. I posted to it but can't seem to find it now.

    8 Replies
    1. re: Midlife

      I believe that thread was deleted (multiple times actually) because the Mods don't want business people coming on here and doing free market research.

      I think that you should combine the "best of both worlds" so to speak. I plan to give my servers the iPads. That way the information is available and so is the friendly face.

      1. re: PotatoHouse

        Gotta say- if a server came to my table with an iPad, I'd be disappointed that I was not using it.

        "Just gimmie the thing, and you can come back when I've input my order"

        But I'm strange that way.

        1. re: Fake Name

          >"if a server came to my table with an iPad, I'd be disappointed that I was not using it.">
          Even at The French Laundry? and........ not for the wine list. but to explain the tasting menu and all your options? Really?

          BTW, one of the two guys who own Stacked is a long-time friend. He is very much aware that this is a great idea but that any restaurant's success is ultimately based on the quality of the food and surrounding experience. Glad to hear (from your post on the SD Board) that you enjoyed it.

          1. re: Midlife

            The French Laundry, Daniel and restaurants of that ilk are places I would not yet expect electronic menus. But I suspect by the time Mr11 is ready to date and dine, it will be the standard. It simply makes to much sense. Printed menus will go the way of the "special" menus for women that have no prices.

            And, I'd disagree with your friend. There are many restaurants that are quite successful despite thier poor food. The right combination is somewhere in-between, I suppose.

            But yes, we had a very positive experience (albeit not Chowhoundish) at Stacked, as have other friends with kids, one of who raised an interesting issue. She had her daughter and 9 of her daughter's closest friends in tow. That didn't work too well with one iPad. But Stacked does provide the old-fashioned menus as well.

            Might as well have been written on parchment for their historic value ; )

            1. re: Fake Name

              >"I'd disagree with your friend. There are many restaurants that are quite successful despite their poor food."<

              Ummmm................. 'quality' is pretty subjective I guess. What he means is it can't survive on the "gimmick" of the iPad alone. I haven't been there yet, but I don't think his prices are low enough to be in the fast food chain arena, so it has to at least be "decent".

              1. re: Midlife

                Agreed, and sorry my point was not clear. I just think of Cheesecake Factory, thriving on some pretty bad food.

                1. re: Fake Name

                  I guess I'm not a true hound. I think Cheesecake Factory is pretty decent, but then............... all I ever order is the Thai Lettuce Wraps appetizer

      2. re: Midlife

        I agree it's not for every place, and at the beginning, it will burger/pizza places. But I suspect the younger crowd will take to it like fire takes to gasoline.

        If one thinks objectively about it, it's simply better for everybody- especially the diner. More information, better ability to control their own dining experience, etc.

        We old traditionalists may shudder, but it is a better way.

      3. One of the reasons I go out to dinner is to step away from technology. If a restaurant wants to provide that information fine, but the minute someone hands me an iPad, I'm out of there.

        1 Reply
        1. re: escondido123

          Oh, you rabid traditionalist!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ;o))))))))

        2. Actually the Charles Palmer's at Bloomingdale's in Costa Mesa, CA introduced this concept years ago with their wine list on a tablet computer brought to the table. For some reason (I'm guessing it was too labor intensive to keep it up), it didn't last too long. It was wonderful! It was: always up to date; allowed searching by color, varietal, origin, price; included tasting notes and suggested pairings with menu items, number of bottles in stock (they allowed purchases to take home at retail pricing), etc. A terrific idea for a wine list...for a menu...I'm not sure.

          1. Dehumanizing the dining experience has no appeal to me. How depressing to envision the sight of some pathetic man, sitting alone, fondling his tablet, avoiding contact with all around him. Or, perhaps worse, the table of four sitting in silence as each is lost in a separate screen.

            Such places will no doubt exist and, perhaps, even to an extent prosper. They represent our society's version of the automat. Nevertheless, I think a human liaison between the restaurant and the patron is an essential element that will continue to define hospitality. The ability to utilize technology to learn more about the place and its offerings should not change this as the clever patron will do so before even crossing the threshold.

            At the end of the day, if I want complete control of my meal, I prepare it myself.

            5 Replies
            1. re: MGZ

              Yeah- I miss horses and buggies and the good old outhouse behind the barn. And self-serve gas has deprived me of the human contact at the filling station. ATMs are so pathetic, how sad one approaches a machine (a machine!) with which to interface with one's bank.

              Automatic transmission in cars are so impersonal.

              And those telephones- do we not all morn the loss of personal conversations with those far away?

              Stoves are now this fancy turn-the-knob and light them- gone are the good old days of stoking a good hot fire with some hardwood in the old cast-iron stove.

              I miss live theater, especially for the news. I bemoan the loss of going to the town square and hearing the town crier's call of "1100 o'clock and all is well!"

              And most of all, I miss gaslamps. These days of flipping a switch to illuminate one's pathway through the deep darkness is simply crass and pathetic.


              Truth is, folks, this is not the end of the dining experience as we know it. I'm confident restaurants will continue to provide limited information about their food on flattened sheets of wood pulp for those who arrive with tears in their eyes for the good old days.

              With some notable exceptions, most of the places offering true hospitality and an extensive knowledge of their food sources, techniques and specialties are long gone. Yes, upper-crust restaurants will continue to offer hospitality, just as the place one's napkin in one's lap with the gentle appropriate intimacy one should have for the private area of a stranger- (no- a guest!) in one's establishment.

              A clever patron realizes life changes, and blind dedication to the simpler, darker times is simply more windmill-charging.

              1. re: Fake Name

                Entertaining, though a bit off point. Digital menus in place of paper is probably a good idea; however, removing the social aspect of dining is not. Though followed to its conclusion, technology suggests that we should abandon food in favor of nutrition supplements. Similarly unappealing to me.

                1. re: Fake Name

                  Fake Name - You have an opinion and have stated it here. Others are not of your opinion and have replied here. Why do you dismiss all opinions differing from your as people stuck in the past? There are very good points being raised, and rather than addressing them, you simply repeat the whole progress, change, get with the times spiel. Computers are great for many things. The ATM was so revolutionary, not because it eliminated the teller, but because we could now get money out of the bank at any time. The newspaper, and later television news was great because it provided greater access to the news. Telephones were great because they provided greater, (not less), intimacy with people in real time.

                  I am also one of those people who loves the self checkout at the supermarket. I do not feel a need to interact with other people if I do not have to.

                  But. I think you underestimate a servers job. They do not simply take your order and give you your food. The server is the middle man between you and the kitchen. You think you can time your meal without any prior knowledge of the restaurant or the current state of the kitchen? Think again. Do you really think the computer can anticipate every possible question or request that can arise about the menu or special requests? An ipad can't read your table to determine what kind of dining experience you are looking for. An ipad doesn't know how to word requests to the kitchen so that they don't have a hissy fit and implode. Nor does an ipad know that the kitchen is really backed up right now, so you'd better fire those meals earlier than you usually would to ensure they get to the table at the proper time. Every restaurant is different, and a server is there to make sure you get what you want, how you want it and when you want it. It sound to me that what you are really looking for is a servant; and that is really a shame on so many levels. Also pretty demeaning to all the good servers out there.

                  1. re: Fake Name

                    I believe if telephones had been invented after email that we would all be saying "Isn't this wonderful. Now we can actually talk to people, hear their words and verbal cues, discuss options and reach a conclusion. All without having to sit down at a computer and email back and forth until things get resolved. What an invention!"

                    So if you consider a machine taking your order better than talking to a person who takes your order, then I guess the iPad is for you. I'll stick with talking to a real person.

                    1. re: escondido123

                      I laud the developments in communication and have quickly embraced each as they've developed (we've come a long way since getting mail order tickets over the Well). The technological advances that have made an interactive, digital menu possible, however, are at their best when empoyed to permit the connection of people and at their worst when they result in isolating them. My objections are borne of concern for the potential of latent sociological/psychological impacts from misuse.

                2. Begging the indulgence of Hilltowner, I'd like to continue and perhaps expand the discussion, so we can all learn from each other. I assume by posting my opinions, others may comment and make additional observations, some may, in fact, be contrary to my own. I welcome all opinions, and appreciate the participation of all concerned, and avoid any attempt to discourage comment- why would one want to do that?

                  Allow me please to discuss further the idea posited earlier about electronic ordering being an impediment to social behavior. I would respectfully and kindly disagree.

                  One (not the only!) of the many reasons I pay for a good restaurant meal is to indulge and appreciate the company of others, specifically, my dining companion(s). I don't see how an iPad-based menu system would be an impediment to that enjoyable activity. In fact, I can easily see an enhancement by providing much more information around which a culinary discussion could be built.

                  Obviously, if both parties are playing Angry Birds instead of using the tool to enhance their meal, the system would have failed. But I wouldn't dine with someone like that above the age of 16 or so.

                  Yes, an iPad-based menu might reduce the social interface I'd have with the staff- but here's the crux of the argument: Despite hilltowner's assumptions about me, I'm fond of servers, owners and staff or restaurants, spend a lot of time with these professionals and should I choose to socialize with them, I'll do it in the comfort of our own home as their host. In short, I don't dine out to socialize with the staff- it's rude to my dining companion, and is a timesuck to the professionals who are there to do their very difficult job.

                  Obviously, despite hilltowner's further assertions, (do you even know me?) I do not underestimate the value of a good server, house manager, expediter, chef, owner, nor investor, and I covered that in the original post. It's unsuggested that we throw away menus and servers- but I believe there are benefits to all parties with a well-built and written system. Such systems would be scaled and designed for the specific venue- the system that works for the local burger joint is not the same as a finer dining establishment.

                  <note: Not sure how I got thrown under the "server-hater" bus- it seems very odd to me. Never suggested anything of the sort>

                  May I quote myself in case it was missed in the first post?

                  " Yes, a truly good server embodies hospitality, and that will never be done by an iPad."

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Fake Name

                    " Yes, a truly good server embodies hospitality, and that will never be done by an iPad."

                    So, while I understand the essence of your position, I would suggest that the absence of that "hospitality" (and the related personal interaction with a server) is what those who decry this use of technology are talking about. Some see it as an erosion of what makes us what we are.

                    I can agree with you that, in terms of total time spent dining, interaction with the server is short compared with interaction among those at your table. But it's still an important part of the experience in most types of restaurants. I use Google a lot, but I think I'd rather ask a server what a certain preparation is like than Google in on the provided iPad.

                    Just my 2¢.

                    1. re: Midlife

                      Thank you for your opinion, and I understand your point.

                      I'm suggesting the social interaction with a server is a modern phenomenon- at one point in history and tradition, the best service was as invisible as possible. Possibly the best service I've had was at Daniel or Fleur di Lys, and I honestly cannot remember a single server- they came and went with a whisper and avoided being intrusive as much as possible.

                      My companions, I remember well, and had a splendid experience.

                      I'm not there to interact nor socialize with a server- I'm there to interact with my companion(s). A good restaurant will encourage that, and will interrupt as little as possible.

                      I believe an electronic based menu would enhance that experience.



                      1. re: Fake Name

                        But I don't come to a restaurant to have an electronic-based experience, but rather to get away from them. It would feel to me a little like self-check out not a relaxed evening of being taken care of. I love technology, sometimes, but not when I'm out to dinner. I guess to each his own.

                        1. re: Fake Name

                          No question that interacting with your companion(s) is paramount in a dining experience. And...... I've been to The French Laundry and found the service to be 'ballet-like' and totally non-intrusive........... EXCEPT for the server who took our order and explained the whole tasting menu and what each course was like, including the optional add-ons.

                          I guess we just have to agree to disagree on this. I find each "progression" we make into the world of electronics to be chipping away at our human interaction. Come to dinner with me some time and see my 36 year-old daughter, my 31 year-old son, and now my wife....... all texting away. Around our family I'm known as the 'Master Googler', so I do appreciate the value of electronically available information and I am all for this advancement. I just also think that each step we take along this path (self-parking cars, no servers, artificial intelligence) take a toll on us that is pretty much irretrievable.

                      2. re: Fake Name


                        I believe you misunderstood me. I quite, absolutely agree that the server is not there to socialize with the customer. I'm not sure what you read in my reply to jump to that conclusion. I also heartily agree that the server should make themselves as unobtrusive as possible, (unless the customers WANT to chat with the server; and many do). Perhaps I am confused about your original post - what, exactly are you hoping the ipad can do that would be better/more beneficial than a real, live human?

                        Not sure why one post makes you think you were thrown under the server-hater bus. I never suggested that. I stand by my "demeaning to all the good servers" comment, though. Perhaps this one line out of many is what made you think I was attacking you. That's a shame. I stand by it not with anger or self righteousness, but to further the discussion. I truly believe that a servers job both at the table and behind the scenes is far more complex than an ipad can handle. But again, perhaps I have misunderstood your original posit. It sounded to me like you would like to use ipads for all your orders, and only have servers bring you stuff. Forgive me if I am wrong.

                        Again, I am not even getting into the hospitality issue here, just the logistics of running a restaurant well and of giving the customer what they want, when they want and how they want.

                        Thank you, though, for providing a little bit more clarity.

                      3. purchasing, maintaining, keeping track of 50 ipods and having to hire extra security to make sure the ipods don't "walk away. . ." sounds fun, but not as fun as trying to explain to customers why every plate of food costs $5-$10 more than the place down the street where everyone orders off of a chalkboard. it's a wonder everyone isn't all over the idea.

                        1. what if i hate ipads?
                          or only want an android pad?or a windows pad? or a linux pad?

                          what about my grandparents? who have never used an i-anything?

                          i love the way Apple people assume that everybody on the planet only uses apple products...

                          the only way i order anything from a Tablet(there are other brands besides apple) or a phone or "mobile device" is for takeout...

                          1. Gee, I hope I am not the only one who is not having any trouble at all understanding Fake Name's points on this thread.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Tripeler

                              I understand his points, I just don't agree with them. There is a difference.

                              There ARE some who would prefer electronic ordering, but there are some that never will.

                            2. Fear not, everyone, the sky is not falling.

                              These changes are not happening overnight. The Flintstone type of menus will remain available. Each afternoon, the restaurants will continue to have the little bird peck away at a stone tablet to etch the evening's specials is extra large type for the traditional diners.

                              <note: The above is called satire, and it's a form of something called "humor". It is a reference to the animated sitcom "The Flintstones" (which is actually a cartoon version of another sitcom called "The Honeymooners") which first ran on something called television from 1960 to 1966, with reruns still playing. The Flintstone camera consisted of a bird that pecked a stone tablet to create an image much like a camera. My first paragraph is not to be taken seriously (nor any of my posts) and is not meant to be offensive to anyone>

                              As technically identified as I may be, I wholeheartedly agree that technology is abused daily. But that's not the fault of technology- it's the *paucity of manners* that is responsible.

                              Both personally and professionally, I spend much time with those in the business of technology- it's their job to stay constantly connected. That's how they make their living. I nevertheless find a phone on the dining table as- if it were a fork, plate or knife- offensive, and refuse to converse with those who constantly embrace wearing their Bluetooth earpiece as if they're Lieutenant Uhura.

                              <need I explain that historical and cultural nugget?>

                              These are not gaffes created by technology, they are actions performed by those who care little for their effect on those around them, in our case, fellow diners.

                              Bringing us to the point. iPad ordering (insert favorite device here- the iPad term is used, to the chagrin of Steve Jobs, as a generic term, all-inclusive of any brand or format of electronic display device- more on that later) itself is not the likely cause of the interference so feared at a dining table. Just like a fellow diner can stab their companion in the eye with a fork, and subsequently injure the remaining eye with a friendly fire shot of lemon juice squeezed on their Waygu carpaccio.

                              Yet nobody wants to ban forks and lemons- no one bemoans the loss of social interaction because weapons live on our tables.

                              And <use your favorite device here> based electronic ordering is no different- if it interferes with one's dining experience, one is dining with the wrong people.

                              Fear not, fellow Chowhounds- jack-booted thugs are not coming for your menus.

                              Addendum: Risking further my personal reputation as a thoughtful and caring person, I see the nexus of electronic ordering to be in the palm of our hands. As noted above by a previous poster, the practicality of device management is a challenge. The obvious answer is site-based networks that use browsers to provide the information and ordering capabilities, available via our personal devices.

                              Except for the Burger Joints and Dennys of the world. Those will have the Non-Specific Ordering Device built right into the table.

                              And I am brimming with anticipation!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Fake Name

                                And what about those who choose not to have personal devices?

                              2. If you need that level of specificity then your kitchen is probably the best place to find what you seek.

                                Knowing everything about every dang thing takes the art out of the meal. And when is enough, enough? For the sake of exaggeration here - will you want to know if the chef had a good nights sleep the night before or if she’s having a fight with her foh husband? Or if Yertle the Turle’s second cousin lives on the property where the huckleberries were harvested?

                                For now I'll stick with stone age menus.

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: MplsM ary

                                  <please accept the following reply with humor as a key ingredient thank you>

                                  Ah- so now there's only a specific amount of information the restaurant is allowed to publish? Or is it a certain amount of information that I'm allowed? Are there levels of clearance, and how do I qualify for tip-top clearance? Is there a background check?

                                  "Health Code Regulation 1234 specifies information must be contained to a 8.5x14 single sheet, two-sided menu based on wood fibers with optional lamination. Information shall be no smaller than 8 point type, with boldface titles for the entrees. Desserts my be described in italic, and not more than 140 characters may be used in the description of an individual offering. Wine lists: See Health Code Regulation 1235."

                                  Perhaps most importantly, who decides the type and depth of the information that's permitted to be offered? Will we usher in new litigation at a federal level to cover this new technology? Will penalties be charged to those who violate the Nonspecificelectronicdevicemenu Information Act?

                                  Nobody says anyone is *obligated* to dig deeper into the information provided- it could be there for those who'd enjoy it, and other people can choose not to dig at all. Maybe they opt for the pressed wood pulp option. And there's no requirement that the restaurant offer anything- unless they believe their customers want it. And I believe they do.

                                  Here's a great example- this week's Splendid Table had a reference to a dish called Spinach Codette. For those like myself who've just fallen from the bok choy truck, it'd be marvelous to discover more about this historic dish, including images (yes- like Dennys!) of its creation and information about the region from which it's based. I'd like to know if the chef offers to make the Spinach Codette traditionally, or with a new pureed pine nut sauce he/she has been trying to perfect based on a centuries-old Etruscan recipe from a stone tablet unearthed in the earthquake of 1908. HELL YES, I'd like to try that! Unless it has coffee, grapefruit or green bell peppers.

                                  Hey, I understand some people don't want that, and that's fine. And if the chef wishes to offer the details of her marital dispute, who am I to say she shouldn't?

                                  Yes, I know people fear the dining experience will change for the worse. People may misuse the technology and the table next to them might dare to enjoy using the device to enhance their individual dining experience. But there are plenty of other ways other guests ruin a dining experience- think fragrance. Or guests over 500 lbs wearing spandex.

                                  I find that more disturbing than a Nonspecificelectronicdevicemenu.

                                  <thank you for accepting the previous post with humor as its key ingredient >

                                  1. re: Fake Name

                                    Actually, having a device that will give me the full breakdown of each component of each dish, plus the temp of the grease (plus the molecular description of that grease), and then the full health and medical report of the chef, the sous chef, and the line cook, could be useful. Also, knowing that the server was just released on bail for putting ground glass in the patrons' meals, might be worthwhile too. Being able to access the last 20o years of Health Department inspections, plus any USDA warnings, issued since one left home, should prove useful. Being able to chat with Michelle Obama, on whether she likes the dish, and approves of it, on some social media, would certainly make me happy.

                                    Yes, I can see myriad uses for such a device, and cannot imagine how mankind has found ways to exist prior to their implementation. Gotta' only go to places, where they have 'em.


                                2. I have encountered various forms of PDA's, and especially for wine lists.

                                  To date, I have been less than impressed - sort of like "wine angels," I suppose.


                                  1. As some of these posts are phrased as questions, I'll take a shot at answering, if you don't mind.

                                    If you do, discontinue reading now.

                                    First, the thread began about establishments PROVIDING devices on which to obtain information about the menu, etc. But if you don't use a device, I'm confident restaurants will provide paper menus with brief synopsis of their offerings.

                                    Yes, it would be easy to get carried away with too much information. My response to that is:

                                    Don't read it.

                                    If you don't want that much info, there would be no obligation to read it. Indeed, some of my favorite meals have been situations where I voice, in advance, my dislike for coffee, grapefruit, and green bell pepper, and have the chef make whatever he/she damn well pleases.

                                    Other times, I want more information about the chef's background- maybe a little insight into their influences, and even the temperature of the cooking oil.

                                    Ok, maybe not that far....

                                    What I'm suggesting is giving guests options. Letting them have as much or as little information as the owner chooses, in a format that is superior to paper and it's limitations.

                                    Sure- it's been done poorly in the past. But technology changes, and it's becoming easy to provide logical and clear information for one's patrons.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: Fake Name

                                      >"the thread began about establishments PROVIDING devices on which to obtain information about the menu, etc."<

                                      I have to admit that I didn't fully get your perspective on this subject until this post. The only use of iPads I'm privy to is mostly to replace a server in menu explanation and order taking. The one example where I have some insight does that and feels that the device makes a complex, multi-choice, build-it-yourself, pizza/burger/salad menu easier to deal with. I need to go there to see what they provide beyond that, if anything.

                                      My quick take, with this new thought in mind, is that I'm annoyed enough by my wife and kids texting and emailing during dinner that I might just like the idea of being able to fight back by reading the Chef's bio on the iPad while they're doing that. But................. not really. My desire would be that the occasion would go in the opposite direction............. you know............. actually talking with each other.

                                      1. re: Fake Name

                                        For the chef's influences, I normally will read their bios on the Web site, or will research that info, before hand.

                                        What I am looking for is "how are things tonight?" and a PDA-type device is usually not that well-suited for the task - though there can be exceptions.

                                        Maybe I just like human interaction, but what I am most often looking for is a simple, "how are things tonight?" as I am dining that night, and not when some HTML might have been written.


                                        1. re: Fake Name

                                          OK...so I order from the ipad, and have information readily available. Who do I tip? The ipad? Do I tip "it" less than 15%? I'd feel kinda funny tipping an ipad...especially one who's name I didn't know...do they have names?

                                        2. I would much rather the restaurants spent their time sourcing better ingredients, creating better dishes and making the dining room more relaxed and welcoming. Creating and maintaining the sort of electronic compendium for the restaurant could easily be a full time job if the design is to be appealing, the writing pleasant/grammatically correct/no typos, the information itself correct, and the daily specials described in time along with the proper pairings. I truly do not understand this voracious desire for more information everywhere, all the time. (I am imaging sitting in a nice romantic restaurant where the warm glow of the candles is negated by the cool light of a dozen iPads.) PS Juxtaposing trend vs new standard in the question does not allow for the third possibility---a fad that will pass.)

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: escondido123

                                            upvote for the same.....
                                            when i am deciding on where to eat (mostly on the fly-seat of the pants last minute kinda thing)
                                            then yes my phone(android) helps..i have the yelp app..urban spoon..google maps..etc...
                                            but once i am inside..i want people...some of the places i frequent over and over are because i have been friendly/became friends with the people..not an ipad...
                                            theres one place that i go for lunch...i will have a coke meet me at the table as i walk in the door..and depending on what specials are running i dont even have to order...an ipad cant do any of those things..

                                            even when i go out for nice dinners at 3 or 4 star dining i still want an interaction with someone.. ime a good waitperson can make for an even better meal...
                                            not an invisible servant that only appears when i am ready to pay either....

                                            1. re: escondido123

                                              I am with you as well. We actually enjoy interacting w/ our server. One of our favorite interactions w/ aith a waiter in Toronto on a rainy night while on vacation when the resto was very slow and he introduced us to Inniskillin Ice wine.. He offered us a free taste and we have been hooked ever since. By the end of thenight, he had provided my DH w/ a cuban cigar and told us about about his family's upcoming trip to D.C. We shared some sightseeing ideas and he showed us family photos. We loved it. We all have different comfort levels and expectations of servers. And, BTW, this guy gae us great tips for other places to visit on our trip.

                                              1. re: sherriberry

                                                I agree with the interfacing with a human, and hopefully one, who has actually tasted examples of that night's menu. When I ask, "is the ahi better than the ono tonight?" I am hoping to tap into that info. Having minute details of the prep, in general, might be useful, but "how is it tonight?" will be my question. In the above example, if the ahi is not fresh, or a great fish, then the ono might be the better choice on that night, regardless of the details of the dish, published at some time in the past.

                                                Just my feeling on this.


                                            2. <please accept the following reply with humor as a key ingredient thank you>

                                              Ya know, you're right! Because nobody will understand how to tip appropriately, progress should be halted.

                                              I realize I'm bringing unpopular news here, and when one considers what makes a Chowhound, the idea of a nonspecificelectronicdevicemenu seems anathema.

                                              But I believe it's the future- heck, it's the present. Maybe it's adoption will be delayed in fine dining establishments. But I look forward to my local taco shop having my drive-thru order ready, paid and waiting because I've ordered online before my departure.
                                              Certainly the coffee-shop/pancake house/ burger joint level establishments will be the first- it just makes sense.
                                              Now- do you honestly believe every server will reply truthfully to:
                                              "What's good tonight?"

                                              Anyone who's worked at restaurants will tell you the answer to that question is frequently (no, not always) what's getting old in the kitchen inventory. Not to mention praising the diner for their thoughtful choice.
                                              "How's the sashimi today? Oh, absolutely marvelous, Mr/Ms Smith, and an excellent choice!"

                                              <thank you for accepting the previous post with humor as its key ingredient >

                                              1. So how exactly is the Ipad going to deliver your food from the kitchen??

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                  Robots, it will all be done by robots.