When you sit down at Chef José Andrés' tapas restaurant, , in Washington, D.C., and ask to see the beverage options, as I did recently, you're in for a surprise. Instead of a traditional leather-bound menu, I was handed an iPad.
An app called guided me to search for wine by grape variety and climate zone. Selecting a bottle, I got details about the vintage and its producers, tasting notes written by the restaurant's wine team, pictures of the bottle or label, and food pairing suggestions.
Having all this information on hand was initially intimidating. What was I in the mood for? Did I want to splurge on a rare bottle from the illustrious, shuttered Spanish restaurant ? What was the back story on that Rioja? But as I immersed myself in the app, I got so into it that the waiter had to stop by three times before I was ready to order.
While paper menus, which have been around for centuries, still dominate the restaurant world, a growing number of restaurants are singing the praises of tablets to better serve their customers.