Monday, September 28, 2009

Casting Fate to the Wind with Urban Spoon

Posted By on Mon, Sep 28, 2009 at 11:02 AM

Nashville restaurants on Urbanspoon

We have seen comments that sometimes the authors of this blog seem to visit the same places over and over. Admittedly, you eat what you like and you write what you know, but we certainly make the effort to try new establishments to give our readers the skinny on how to get fat.

But I figured why not take the human element of choice completely out of the equation? One of the first cool iPhone apps that drove people in droves to Apple's app store was Urban Spoon. With its fun slot machine interface and "shake to spin" user experience, it also had the benefit of linking to a fairly comprehensive restaurant review and information database. However those of us who are technologically deprived and iPhoneless didn't have access to Urban Spoon's advice. Until now.

With the addition of a web widget, anyone with internet access can now spin to win on Urban Spoon. Just like with the iPhone app you can select and lock down criteria such as neighborhood, food type and price point or you can just hit "Spin" and let kismet choose your dining option. It's like having your own personal dining critic on your desktop or in your pocket. (If you use the iPhone version, be sure to give Carrington some air.)

A shortcoming is that you can't select multiple attributes at the same time. If you commit to searching downtown, it is impossible to expand the scope of your search beyond Urban Spoon's definition of downtown. If you would be happy with either pizza or Italian, you have to search all ethnicities if you don't choose just one. Good luck finding good Portuguese food in Nashville.

On the plus side, Urban Spoons quirky definition of Nashville neighborhoods apparently came off of General John Bell Hood's map from the Battle of Nashville. Did you know Prince's Hot Chicken Shack is in Brooklyn Heights? Me neither. Or that Opry Mills is technically located in Haysboro? The intersection of Edmondson and Old Hickory Blvd. is apparently called Fair Oaks. Funny, we always called it "Brentioch."

This splitting of geographical hairs does complicate searching sometimes. The Bar B Cutie on Donelson Pike shows up as being in Merry Oaks, but Phat Bites Deli 200 feet away across a side street is in Clover Hill. You learn something every day...

Enough whining about shortcomings. It's fun to play with Urban Spoon. Give it a couple spins at the top of this page. I'm committed to using it for the rest of the week to tell me where to eat lunch. I'll report back in this space. Wish me luck.

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