As the first decade of the 21st century draws to a close, we’ve observed eateries around the city adopting technologies that are strange, cool and decidedly futuristic. In some cases, they look the part, too. Could this be the wave of the future?
DIY wine pours
Restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow tapped Syd Mead (who designed the “Blade Runner” and “Aliens” sets) to give his brand new Bar Basque a futuristic design; with its strong red, black and chrome color scheme, it’s easy to imagine black-clad “Matrix”-like characters walking through the corridors. We’re big fans of the DIY wine bar: Trade in your credit card at the bar in exchange for a wine card that lets you self-select 1 oz., 2 oz. or 6 oz. pours of any of 32 Spanish wines. A sommelier is standing by to answer questions. Bar Basque, Eventi Hotel, 2nd Fl., 839 Sixth Ave., 646-600-7150
Tip: If you enjoy the DIY aspect of the wine ordering system here, make sure to check out Clo Wine Bar (10 Columbus Circle, 212-823-9898) on the fourth floor of the Time Warner Center.
Fully automated ordering
Downstairs from Bar Basque, Food Parc also benefits from Mead’s sleek, modern visual touches, but we’re most intrigued by the fully automated ordering system. Touch-screen kiosks are set up throughout the 20,000-square-foot space that is home to four distinct eateries: 3Bs (bacon, burgers and beer), Fornetti (with sandwiches, salads and pastas), RedFarm Stand (dim sum and noodle dishes) and The Press (La Colombe coffee and light bites). From the kiosks, you can pull up menus from all four vendors. Follow your order’s progress on the virtual displays, or (our pick) opt to get an SMS text message notifying you that your order’s ready for pick-up. FoodParc, Sixth Avenue at 29th Str., foodparc.com
An experiment in social media
When 4Food opened in September in midtown it introduced to New Yorkers two futuristic concepts: The (W)holeburger, the eatery’s signature donut-shaped burger stuffed with choice of veggie filling (e.g. spinach and pine nuts or veggie chili), and a progressive community initiative that allows you to join online groups on the restaurant’s website, champion your own burger creation (and receive 4Food points when it sells) and a “big brother”-like board in the resto that features a running list of live Tweets mentioning @4foodnyc. We wonder if anyone’s yet used the Twitter feed to pick up that fellow Midtown luncher at an adjacent table. 4Food, 826 Madison Ave., 4Food.com
Tip: Join 4Food’s online community, complete the profile survey and you’ll receive 5 4Food dollars towards your first purchase.
Swanky South Gate (154 Central Park S., 212-484-5120) was the first restaurant in the city to load their wine list onto the iPad, creating, voila, the iPad wine tablet. This innovative use of the iPad is by no means a replacement to the sommelier’s expertise (he’s always standing by), but a new, interactive means for diners to engage with the restaurant’s cellar, with more 650 bottles. And South Gate’s not alone. Madison Square Park Italian resto SD26 (19 E. 26th St.,212-265-5959) has also moved its wine list onto iPads, and power lunch spot Michael’s (24 W. 55th St., 212-767-0555) has begun to keep a few iPads on hand as an alternative to the printed papers offered during breakfast service.
Interactive wine bar
At Adour Alain Ducasse’s intimate wine bar, and in its private Vault Room, customers explore their wine selections through a state-of-the-art computer program and projection system. They can scroll through hundreds of wines from Adour’s cellar projected on the surface of the bar, and interact with it like you would an iPhone or iPad. Pretty cool indeed. Adour Alain Ducasse, 2 E. 55th St., 212-710-2277