You've finished work on a Friday and a work mate asks if anyone is up for dinner. The inevitable "Where do you want to go?" pops up.
You've just watched Hawthorn thrash Collingwood (ok maybe not currently but definitely in the past) and you're all ready for a meal "Where to eat guys?"
If any of the above scenarios seem familiar to you, then there is an iPhone Application that you'll love. It's called Yum Table. I know the app will be useful to me as I've lost count of the number of times when my friends and I all ponder about what to eat after an event. Usually we all stand around undecided for 30 minutes and start getting out our phones to check out what is around the area and whether the restaurant is free. Yum Table solves all these problems, in real time.
Yum Table is the brainchild of Craig Winkler, ex-CEO of MYOB, the ubiquitous accounting software for small business. Craig's turned his attention to this Yum Table app and I personally think it's a brilliant idea. For years now, I've bemoaned the lack of a real time restaurant booking system. If you can book a plane ticket in real time, book a movie ticket in real time or book a concert ticket in real time, what's stopping you from booking a restaurant table in real time. Restaurants that profess to take online bookings still require you to wait for confirmation when they ring you back the next day. With most people in Australia owning an Internet enabled phone, booking online seems like the most natural progression, and Yum Table does that. It is as easy as taking your phone out of your pocket and pressing a few buttons. Yum Table even takes it one step further. It uses the location of your phone to tell you what is in the vicinity, and better still, what is being discounted. It's like lastminute.com.au for restaurants.
I'm definitely a fan of the idea of Yum Table and think it can work fantastically. However, the key to the success of this application is to get buy-in from restaurants. If restaurants don't participate, it will severely restriction options for the customer and people will use it less and less. So far Yum Table has gotten agreements with numerous restaurants, including some big names like Flower Drum, Fenix and St Jude's Cellar, where the launch party was held.
I was fortunate enough to score an invite to the launch party and learn more about the app from Marketing Director Niv and Craig himself. I can't see too many flaws in the application itself so far. I found it very easy to use and the interface is clean, simple and efficient. You would expect that with all the experience of MYOB, the software aspect would be in good condition. As for the restaurant side, it's a win-win for diners and proprietors. They can fill out seats during quiet hours at a discount or offer specials on items that they may have recently sourced a lot of. The system will fail if restaurants don't put on any listings or there are confusion over bookings made and they don't get registered into the system.
At the launch, the food at St Jude's Cellar was extremely delicious. Below you can see Craig in the blue shirt on the left, and that's John Lethlean in the pink shirt, food editor at The Australian newspaper, and next to John is Joyce, my fellow food blogger from MEL: Hot or Not.
We started our meals with the Charcuterie Platter, which was a highlight for me. It contained sensational croquettes, cured meats, pickled vegetables, terrine and relishes. That was followed by a beautiful Seared Calamari and Chickpea dish and Stuff Zucchini with Sheep's Cheese. The calamari was so tender and fresh. Just as tender was the Lamb Ragout with Pappardelle. The meat was so unctuous and the pasta was perfect.
The Pork with Braised Lentils had everyone at the table reaching back for more. Crispy pork skin (the worst thing is pork with chewy skin) encased a tender flesh. At this stage I was so full already but I soldiered on and ate the Seafood Stew of monkfish, clams, calamari and mussels. The sauce was so full of substance and I lapped it up while devouring all the clams.
Despite my assertions that I was full beyond belief, when dessert came I found a second wind. I savoured the comforting Autumn Fruit Frangipane Tart, served with a slightly ugly but tasty vanilla cream. Wines throughout the night went beautifully with the food.
I had a fantastic meal and learnt all about the Yum Table app, a great idea I think. The highlight for me was to get to chat with Craig and ask him a million questions about everything. His honesty and down to Earth nature really captured me and I believe that he believes in this app, which is what you want as a consumer. It was also fantastic to meet one of my food writing heroes in John and hear his views on things as well.
You can download the app for free from iTunes and to once you set up an account the first time, you can start using to make all you online booking dreams come true.
Thanks to Spark Communications for the invite and I dined as a guest of Yum Table and St Jude's Cellar.