Where Are the Truly Great Restaurant Websites?

By Alexis C. Madrigal

There is some breaking restaurant-website news today out of New York: Menupages.com is being purchased by a company called Seamless for $15 million. Allow me to suggest that Menupages.com only exists because restaurant websites are so ridiculously, uselessly ornate, as Farhad Manjoo hilariously described this summer. They are triumphs of style over substance, all Flash, no data. But menus -- probably the number-one thing a potential customer wants to see -- are nowhere to be found.
 
In addition, little information appears about the sorts of things that dedicated food-lovers want to know these days. Where is all the stuff about meat suppliers or cooking methods or kitchen staff?

It's not as if these things are impossible to create. Take the website for my olive oil, Terra Creta. Yes, there is a website for my olive oil -- and it's great! TerraCreta.gr allows you to enter the lot number from your bottle and see all kinds of data about where it came from. I can get a satellite photo of the olive orchard or its organoleptic evaluation. I even know that my last bottle was in Storage Tank 4 at the olive oil mill where it was produced.

Now, most people won't want that much detail, but how about telling us where your beef comes from? Or the cooking lineage of your chefs? How about big, beautiful photos of the food on your menu? Can we see your kitchen? Do have a helpful reservations system in place (your own or someone else's)? Do you incorporate reviews from other sites? Help us come to the conclusion that your restaurant is awesome, if it is.

So, with all that carping, I want to know what restaurant website innovation looks like. Which restaurants are doing a great job? Who has the best restaurant website in the world?

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2011/09/where-are-the-truly-great-restaurant-websites/245671/