Posted in musings

Do you want help finding a restaurant?

An Olivetti rotary dial telephone, c.1940s
Image via Wikipedia

No, of course you don’t.

I’ve just been reading about a new Volvo in the Torygraph, which supposedly uses its sat nav to help you book a restaurant table in the town you’re about to arrive in. My own phone-based sat nav gadget offers a similar service. In fact, when you try to find “points of interest”, restaurants are the top choice. Click the green arrow and the phone turns into a phone to phone the restaurant (or, in my case, to accidentally start a phone call and then cut off).

I made the mistake of buying a Michelin travel guide app for my recent holiday, and that was utterly useless for finding interesting places to go, but was chock-full of information about (expensive) restaurants offering fancy food, Michelin style.

What’s that all about then? Because I really don’t think there’s much call for this kind of thing. People rarely leave the house, set a destination and then think about where they’re going to eat. You might arrive somewhere and wander around looking at the bills of faire posted outside, but you don’t book a restaurant, sight unseen, just because it’s in your sat nav. And in this economy?

We were wondering around Le Lavandou the other day, and there were lots of restaurants, most sparsely occupied. And there were a lot of people walking the streets gawping, but very few of them looking to sit down and eat. The French have taken to street food in a big way, and even places where you might get away with spending less than €100 aren’t seeing much action. And, face it, the cheaper restaurants are not going to be the ones in your sat nav or travel guide app.

So whence comes this fantasy that people are walking around booking restaurants on the fly? It’s a load of old shit. It may be hard to get a table in the places run by top TV chefs, but most restaurants are serving tumbleweed these days. No need to book.

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World famous writer labouring in obscurity. My other blog is a Porsche.