In the "as gimmicky as it gets" department, the unsuspecting foodies of Los Angeles have been hit with a restaurant poised to help us entered the digital eating age. uWink Bistro, located in the shopping Promenade of Woodland Hills, is a self-proclaimed "food and fun" cafe featuring touch screens at each table where patrons order up their food. Don't worry, the dishes are still delivered by actual people, you just don't have to talk to them. Lest you think these screens just serve to act as an interactive menu, there's much more electronic fun to be had at uWink. Once you punch in your order, let the games begin - quite literally. This entertainment center includes games, table-to-table tournaments, edutainment, movie trailers, and "selected internet fun." Which says to me you can't exactly surf the web, but you can go where uWink says it's OK to go. Or rather, the sponsors who have paid top-dollar to reach uWink's discerning diners.
It might work. Might. Something tells me, however, that the focus here will not be on food, but on keeping patrons occupied with screen-touches and silly games. uWInk as a company touts itself as a "digital entraining" venture, founded by Nolan Bushnell - the man also responsible for Atari and Chuck E. Cheese. Food, I'm afraid, is going to be woefully secondary. The menu is ridiculously boring and even more confused - there's a lot of so-called "Asian" dishes, like lettuce wraps and noodles, as well as exciting dishes like a "classic turkey" sandwich and "grilled salmon". Oh, joy. The interesting part here will be whether or not their demographic embraces yet another chance to lose themselves in non-personal computer-based entertainment. If I decide to play in an online tournament with Person A sitting two tables down, but never say hello, what does that say about our society? Oh, but wait - if Person A is an uber-hot single male, and there's a chat functionality - well now, I'm intrigued.
Hey, props to uWink, regardless, for being unique. There certainly is potential here, but it would make me volumes more excited to read they were blowing up fabulous and experimental eats in the kitchen, too. I'm not going to be as engaged to play hours of in-house games while noshing on a lame, tasteless turkey san. Put a little caviar, lotus root, or black truffles in the mix, and you just might have a winner.