Banner photo © Jasperdo/flickr. Product photos © NoWait
Developer: NoWait, Inc.
Runs on: iPhone, iPad
Cost: Free (premium services available)
Whether a restaurant offers reserved seating or simply places you on a waiting list for first come, first served seating, neither option has scratched the surface of understanding the all-important patron. What does a plastic hockey-puck-looking device that lights up and buzzes know about the person holding it? The field was wide open for a sophisticated communication app that provides vital dining information to the customer, the host and most importantly, the restaurateur. Two decades after the plastic buzzer came along, that app has arrived.
Developer: Arnold & Pearn
It always amazes me how creative apps can be. I’m sure there are 1,000 cocktail apps that can show you how to make a Manhattan, but I have yet to see one that informs the way Clinq does. In short, imagine a how-to cocktail guide created by highly skilled designers, not mixologists or even cookbook writers. That’s the way Clinq felt as I used it. No big descriptions, no complicated navigation, and with the exception of some glassware silhouettes no real imagery. Doesn’t sound like it leaves you much, but the design team at Arnold & Pearn have created their own concoction worthy of the $0.99 tab.My first sip of love for this app appears on the opening screen. It’s a white background with five large, bold words: gin, vodka, whisky, bourbon and rum. I know when I’m sifting through my liquor cabinet that’s the way my brain works (Ooh, I have a little vodka left, what should I make with that?). Of course, there are other really great cocktail apps out there that allow for this same type of filtering, such as FOOD & WINE Cocktails or the 2012 app award winner for Best Spirits, Mixology (formerly Mixologist). But unlike those other apps, the simplicity of the design strips away all the bells and whistles so you can get straight to the point, the same way Google.com has done with their plain-Jane search box page.
Better Bacon: Chef Recipes & How to Make Your Own
Developer: Open Air Publishing
Runs on: iPhone
It was bound to happen: an app dedicated to that cured slab of pork belly that we all love. This is less of the traditional app that I typically review and more of an interactive book. The app developer, Open Air Publishing, has also created a few other digital books, such as Wine Simplified and Speakeasy Cocktails.
So what do you get with Better Bacon? First, you get sharp writing and contributions from journalist Rob Wiley, specialty foods entrepreneur Ari Weinzweig and butcher shop owner Tom Mylan. You also get bacon basics, how-to information, and 31 interactive recipes. From how to build your own smoker to mixing your own bacon & eggs cocktail, this app brings the swine. This app doesn’t just focus on the bacon you buy in the plastic wrap either, this gives love to pancetta, Canadian bacon, guanciale and others.