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Poynt vs. Urbanspoon (score 1 for Poynt)

December 31, 2009 Leave a comment

PoyntI posted earlier about my excitement that Urbanspoon for BlackBerry had finally been released (see original post here).  However, I have to put a plug in for Poynt here, based on a vacation I took this week.

I took my wife to Harrison Hot Springs in south-western BC for a couple of days during the holidays.  Once we were settled into our hotel and ready to go for something to eat, I fired up Urbanspoon on my BlackBerry.  I was disappointed to see that the nearest location was Chilliwack (approximately 30 minutes drive away).  This didn’t provide us any useful information as to where to eat.  So while I do use Urbanspoon frequently in a big city, it is completely useless in a small town.

So I opened Poynt and searched using the ‘Restaurants Near Me’ feature, which quickly brought up a list of restaurants, noting each of their distances from my present location.  Poynt uses Yellow Pages listings and Open Table restaurant listings to find restaurants.  Although we could not read reviews or ratings on any of these restaurants, we could find which ones were closest, directions to get there, and an idea on what type of food to expect.

So, while sometimes I like to read a few reviews on a restaurant before dining there, in a small town with 1 sushi restaurant and 1 bar/grill, I only really need to know what’s available and how to get there.  Score 1 for Poynt!  I must also admit that Poynt is one of the most used apps on my BlackBerry.  Everything from movie tickets to a nearby liquor store or gas station can be found.  Incredibly powerful tool, I just never thought I’d also use it to find restaurants in a pinch.

Urbanspoon for BlackBerry

November 26, 2009 1 comment

UrbanspoonI’m a little behind on this one, as I’ve been away in Europe for the last couple of weeks, where my Bell Canada CDMA BlackBerry 8330 does not work.  But here we go…

I installed Urbanspoon for BlackBerry earlier this week, and have been playing with it for a few days now.  I must admit that I have been anxiously anticipating this release ever since the first time I saw this app on a friends iPhone a few years ago.

So far, I have been pleasantly surprised with the application.  Prior to this release for BlackBerry, I have been using Poynt and OpenTable’s BlackBerry apps to search for restaurants.  Both of these apps are location-based search apps, but have their limitations.

The OpenTable app is well designed and works well, but had a couple of glaring limitations that were quite frustrating.  First, there was no way to read restaurants reviews in the application.  Therefore, it would find restaurants in my area, but other than a short description of the restaurant, offered no additional information.  Secondly, the app is limited to restaurants that sign on to the OpenTable reservation program.  So a great app, but quite limited.

Poynt is a great location-based search tool, but searches directories (i.e. YellowPages) and therefore, provides restaurant names, contact information, address, and directions, but does not provide any additional information, such as reviews or descriptions.  So while Poynt is one of my favourite and most used BlackBerry apps, it is not entirely suited to finding restaurants.

Enter Urbanspoon.  I like that it has the ability to search based on proximity, type of cuisine and price range.  The randomization (spin) feature is nice, but is purely aesthetic.  I do, however, really like that it offers ratings (% of people who like it) and reviews for each restaurant.  Additionally, the app integrates really well with BlackBerry Maps to provide navigation and/or step-by-step directions.

However, the app leaves room for a couple of improvements.  First, each time I open the app, the sound is turned on, even if my phone profile is set to quiet or vibrate.  Easily turned off, but easy to forget.  Second, the reviews open in the browser instead of in the app itself.  While still functional, would be nice to see this functionality built into the app itself.  And lastly, the app opens with a background image of a cup of french fries.  Not exactly the haute cuisine I am searching for.  If I want fries, I can always find the Golden Arches.

Overall, a great app, and it is great to see that it has finally been added to the BlackBerry lineup.  The app is available in the BlackBerry App World or from the Urbanspoon directly.

Update: Proposed Vancouver Wine Bylaw

November 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Great news for wine lovers in (or visiting) Vancouver!  Vancouver City Council has revised the new proposed bylaw to state that establishments under a restaurant license must offer their full menu while alcohol is being served.  This is a much more lenient limit to the original 50/50 ratio that was proposed.

Here are links to articles posted by the Vancouver Sun and News 1130 for more information.

See my original post here.

Proposed Vancouver Wine Bylaw

October 27, 2009 1 comment

I’m sure most of you have already heard about this new proposed bylaw; however, thought I should post it just in case you haven’t.  If you live in the Vancouver area and drink BC wine at restaurants, this could definitely affect your nights out.  The bylaw is supposedly up for revisions before becoming official, so no need to panic yet.

The proposed bylaw is aimed at restaurants that operate as bars and requires restaurants to maintain a maximum 50% of their total sales from liquor sales.  However, the unintended impact will be on sales of finer wines.  Say, for example, you go for dinner and order with your spouse and each order a $25 entree and are looking at a $60 bottle of wine on the menu.  In order to be able to order the wine, you would also have to order a $10 appetizer to achieve the 50% maximum requirement.

While the bylaw does not require the 50% maximum to be enforced on a table by table basis, it does require the ratio to be achieved for every 8 hour window.  So if everyone in a restaurant stays within the 50% maximum, and one table orders a $150 bottle of wine and a $10 appetizer, subsequent tables may be limited to below the 50% maximum in order for the 8 hour period to as whole to meet the requirement.

For more information, this article was posted today in the Vancouver Sun today.

Additionally, here is the discussion (on page 10) that was discussed by the City of Vancouver P&E Committee in their October 8, 2009 Agenda.