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Taxistas vs. Urbanspoon

I admit it – I’m not a gadget person. So I don’t quite connect with all the buzz surrounding the release of the new iPhone, a contraption as appealing to a Luddite like me as blood sausage to a vegetarian.

However, like any persistent seductress, iPhone tries its darndest to entice those who might be indifferent to its charms.

In what looks a lot like a flirty nod to the food-obsessed, the device includes an application called Urbanspoon – an internet-based restaurant finder that uses GPS technology to identify the best places to eat according to your location.

In other words, forget restaurant guidebooks, friends’ suggestions, and taxista recommendations – plug your coordinates into Urbanspoon and suddenly you’ll be face to face with the restaurant of your dreams…in theory.

But how does Urbanspoon play out in practice? New York Times food critic Frank Bruni recently gave the nifty application a whirl and “thus revealed the foibles…of the Internet dining guides to which more and more of us are turning for help.”

Mr. Bruni’s Urbanspoon-guided adventures around New York were hit and miss at best. At one point, he was standing directly in front of Dressler, a “contemporary American” restaurant that earned a Michelin star last year, yet Urbanspoon directed him to a wine bar that was blocks away.

I’m sure that the brilliant minds that begat Urbanspoon will eventually work out its kinks. But even when that day arrives, I’ll still invest my culinary faith in a cab driver who knows his city – as funky as his recommendations might be.

Read the full account of Frank Bruni’s Urbanspoon escapades

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