Where I used to live, the choices for dining were slim. It’s not always a bad thing; every Monday night was wing night at our favourite hang out. Since I moved to the West Coast, there’s almost too many to choose from! Part of me wants to stick to familiar places, another part says to venture out and see what else is out there, still another part says to stop going out so much and save the money for a new BlackBerry. After trying to figure out what everyone feels like having to eat, there’s still the decision between the usual place or a new one. At this point, someone may get fed up and decide to order a pizza. Before you surrender to the salivating scent of pepperoni and cheese, grab a spoon…Urbanspoon that is.
At the BlackBerry Developer Conference 2009, Kevin gave us the heads up on Urbanspoon. The application helps you decide where to dine, based on the neighbourhood, cuisine and your budget. We’ve seen it in commercials featuring the ” SighPhone”, but now we users and abusers have the opportunity to search for places to stuff our faces. Grab a napkin and read on!
The Urbanspoon app is powered by Xtreme Labs. This recently released mobile application for BlackBerry smartphone is available for the 83xx series, 88xx series, Curve 8900, Storm, Tour, Bold 9000 and Bold 9700. Its current version is 1.0 (duh, it just came out) and the file size is 422KB.
Every time you open Urbanspoon, the application will attempt to retrieve your GPS location. I found that this failed frequently, so I chose the second option; Choose your City. The second option retrieves the list of dozens of cities from Canada, the United States, United Kingdom and Australia. You can search by Zip Code or by City name. As you type out the desired City, the application begins to shortlist the cities. As you use Urbanspoon, a third option allows you to use the last location.
Now the magic begins. Urbanspoon sports a series of three tumblers. The first has a selection of neighbourhoods, the second offers up various types of cuisine. The third will help choose your budget, from ‘heap eats’ to ‘fine dining’. The tumblers are quite easily managed. You can let your dinner be decided by fate, or lock tumblers for more control. For example, you may want to stay in a particular neighbourhood and have a moderately priced meal, but you don’t know what to eat. Once your selections are made, choose to spin. Watch and drool as the tumbler spins. The results are displayed below the tumbler. It should be noted that the application could come up with no results as well. Storm users have the extra fun with the shake and spin feature. Instead of clicking “spin”, they get to manhandle their BlackBerrys until they find a place to eat. I just look like an idiot, shaking by Bold. If you had a place in mind, Urbanspoon has an added feature that allows you to search by name.
If you click on the establishment chosen for you, the following screen allows you to see patron ratings and read online reviews. You can also call the restaurant, as well as view it on a map (Google Maps). Clicking on either the review button, or the button containing the name, will bring you to the restaurant’s online entry. So while everyone else is already trying to call shotgun while heading out the door, you can view additional information. From this page you can view any photos, view the menu, view critic reviews (including ratings), any available website, restaurants with similar menus and business information (capacity, owner, email address, inspection history and permit history). While some may find these details important, some (like me) would already be making reservations.
Urbanspoon is a fantastic way to find a place where you can fill your belly. I’m hoping that, in time, more cities will be added. This will only add to the already amazing choices. The application offers quick access to those on the go, as well as those who want to research a restaurant beforehand. Urban spoon is available for free and can be found in the BlackBerry App World catalog.