What’s on the menu at London’s Inamo restaurant? Literally, your plate, your drinks and your silverware. At Inamo, patrons order their food electronically at the high-tech, interactive table at which they sit!
So, you sit down at a table at Inamo and here’s how it works:
On your table is a circular trackpad (not unlike that on an iPod classic). As you move your hand around this projected trackpad the table will display pictures of various ordering options along with a description and a price. (Did you catch that in the photo at the top of this article? That’s not a real Berkshire pork neck on the table. It is a virtual image of one you can order for £11.50.) When you see an item you’d like simply click the order button.
The restaurant’s founders thought of the idea of the Inamo when they asked themselves the rhetorical question: “Wouldn’t it be cool if you could just hit a button and a waiter brought you another beer?” As the concept evolved Inamo’s interactive tables became much more than a high-tech ordering machine:
Want to set your own table decor? Choose from dozens of (virtual) tablecloths! (We were partial to the spread of lilac chrysanthemums.)
Curious what your chef is doing? Display a live feed from the Inamo’s kitchen webcam on your table.
Unsure how to get back to your hotel? Access a London tube map. Or have your interactive table electronically order you a taxi.
Want to go for some live music after dinner? Your table can tell you what bands are playing at neighborhood venues.
It is all very cool, if geeky. Though those who declare Inamo the future of restaurants and/or the end of the restaurant waiter are almost certainly overstating matters. Inamo still employs waiters to bring you your orders, to tend to customers paying in cash and to answer questions. Also, at present, the cost to purchase and maintain Inamo’s overhead projectors is high.
More to the point: Inamo is not merely a gimmick restaurant. The atmosphere is fun, with lively clientel. The decor is high-design, with a black timber facade accenting modern translucent star patterns on the walls. And, while the interactive tables may attract first time customers, it is the excellent quality of Inamo’s pan-Asian cuisine that keeps diners coming back. We suggest the £9 veggie pumpkin curry.
And if you can’t decide who should pay the bill at the end of your Inamo meal we have a suggestion for that too: Settle the matter by playing a game of Battleship on your interactive table.
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