We're lucky to have such a diverse and exciting restaurant scene in London, but sometimes the choice can feel overwhelming. Sometimes you just need to know where to go for a decent feed, and you want to find out quickly. We checked out three of the newest apps that aim to guide you with speed to the best food in London.
Where to Eat London 2016
Chris Pople writes the award-winning restaurant blog Cheese and Biscuits, and last year he released the first version of his own app, which contains reviews of the 100 best restaurants in London. The updated version was released on 1 February and contains recommendations “from high-end to low-budget, fine dining to bowl sharing, kaiseki to kebabs and everywhere in between”.
How it works: Where to Eat London uses your location to recommend the closest restaurants on Pople’s Best 100 List. Each restaurant has a review attached plus order suggestions, links to contact details and directions.
Pros and cons: The obvious advantage of the app is that the recommendations come from an expert. Chris describes himself as a "restaurant obsessive" who has done all the ‘hard’ work so you don’t have to. Equally of course, this could be considered a con if your tastes differ. Having played around with the app though, we can tell you that the list is very strong, and doesn’t contain anywhere we wouldn’t recommend ourselves.
Price: £2.99 from the App Store (iPhone only).
This app uses an algorithm which analyses real-time Twitter data to find out which restaurants people are talking about at any given time.
How it works: The idea is that the app crawls Twitter to find out which restaurants are being spoken about positively in your area at the time you want to eat. The aim is to avoid negative or outdated reviews and give suggestions based on what is ‘hot’ on Twitter at the time of use. There's also a feature which allows you to book a table at selected restaurants.
Pros and cons: The pro is that you’ll feel as if you have your finger on the pulse, but the obvious con is that there’s no accounting for taste, especially when those Twitter users could be “just anyone”. Gasp! We asked Twizoo to pull off the top five most popular restaurants of the last week and the results included new opening Piquet, alcohol-shunning restaurant Redemption and, quite unexpectedly, French restaurant(s) Aubaine. It should be pointed out that the latter has no less than nine branches.
Price: Free (iPhone and Android).
Described as “Tinder for food” this app requires you to swipe right or left on photos of food to indicate “yuk” or “yum”.
How it works: The idea is that the app stores your food preferences and then makes recommendations for restaurants near you based on them. At the beginning you make a certain number of swipes until the app has built up a profile for you — it then shows you a list of suggested restaurants. You can also refine the results by price.
Pros and cons: Although the aim of the app is to personalise recommendations, it becomes clear that it doesn’t have sufficient sensitivity to do so effectively. We instantly notice that many suitable restaurants nearby are not recommended, but imagine that extra swiping might increase the potential for relevant results. Really though, who has time?
The swiping function is also heavily dependent on images, which apparently have all been sourced from bloggers. The problem is that more often than not they’re poor quality, and it’s not a pleasant experience. This seems to us to be shoehorning an idea onto an existing design without really considering what most people want from a restaurant app, which is a quality recommendation, and fast.
Price: Free from the App Store (iPhone only).