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When we’re home, we may not allow ourselves such luxuries, but a trip abroad is just the right time to try something more fancy. Restaurant-finding apps are a dime a dozen, with well-reviewed Yelp, old standby UrbanSpoon and TripAdvisor being the best known of the lot. And while these apps do a great job with the smaller places, they might disappoint when you’re looking for that really good place.
So what do you do when you want some fine dining?
Introducing: TheTable (Android, iOS)
TheTable is a recently launched mobile app for Android and iOS. Its sole purpose is to help you find the really good restaurants out there. The ones the experts love. The ones the papers talk about. This is probably not the type of restaurant you’re looking for every day, but when you are looking for them, TheTable is a great way to find them.
Unlike most other restaurant-finding apps, TheTable wants nothing to do with user reviews or user ratings. According to the app’s developers, user reviews are great when you’re looking for touristy places or street food, but they’re just not enough for fine dining. For this, you want expert reviews. And this is what TheTable’s scoring system relies on.
TheTable is a fairly new app, and at the moment includes restaurants only in five cities: London, New York, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro and Tel Aviv. Additional cities such as Chicago, Istanbul, Lisbon, Paris, Rome and Berlin should be added within the next few weeks, with more to come as the service expands.
There are several ways to use TheTable: Choose a city and get a list of its best restaurants, or search for the best restaurants around your current location. In either case, you’ll get a list of restaurants in order of their score or their distance from your location. You can also view the results on a map.
You’re probably wondering that this “score” is. So did I. While I didn’t get a straight answer to what the algorithm is, it’s largely based on expert reviews, taking things like the source’s credibility and Michelin stars into account. At the moment, it takes a certain amount of trust to go by this score, as it’s not entirely clear where the numbers come from. That said, judging from the amount of work put into this app, it’s easy to put your trust in it.
Since the score is based on expert reviews, and not every restaurant has those, the list of restaurants you’ll find here is more limited than on apps such as Yelp or TripAdvisor. The developers promise that more restaurants are added all the time, though.
You can still try to narrow down your search using filters to find a place you’re really interested in. Try not to narrow it down too much, however, or you might end up with nothing. At least at the moment.
When you find a restaurant you’re interested in, you can find its opening hours, location and phone number, as well as read those expert critic reviews. If the restaurant has any Michelin stars, you’ll see that here too. There’s no way to view the restaurant’s website or menu from here, but a quick Google search can get you there easily.
If you choose to sign in using Facebook, you’ll be able to add restaurants to your favorites and access them quickly through the home page. I’m not sure why this feature has to require Facebook login and I wish it didn’t, but this is the deal for now.
TheTable’s website is very similar to the app in looks and design, meaning, it’s super slick and and easy to browse.
When looking at a restaurant on the website, you’ll also get suggestions for similar restaurants, as well as a glimpse into the restaurant’s official Instagram feed. You could call this the official version of Yelp’s user-uploaded photos.
Fine Dining At It’s Best… If You Want It
TheTable is a focused app. It’s meant for people who want the real deal — the absolute best places to eat in town. You won’t find the best food wagon or best budget sushi, but sometimes you want more than that.
The fact that TheTable is one of the best looking apps and websites I’ve seen in a while is certainly a good reason to use it. It’s free, has no ads and no other limitations. All you have to do is have bear with its currently limited number of restaurants, which I’m sure will grow over time. Enjoy!
Download: TheTable on Google Play / TheTable on iTunes [No Longer Available]
Image credit: Jan Fidler