At a recent visit to Lark Creek Steak in San Francisco’s Westfield Center, the waiter beamed as he presented us with their new menus: iPads for everyone! Though it took a little practice, we found it fun and helpful to click around the menu for more information and pictures of each dish. The pictures even helped us decide to order a pedestrian-sounding beet salad because the goat cheese croquette looked too good to miss. (And yes, it was delicious). Our first run-in with computers at the table was a good one, but is this the beginning of a big restaurant trend?

Tablets for Ordering Food

According to a recent article in The Wall Street Journal, more and more restaurants (especially big chains like Chili’s, Applebee’s and Chevys) are offering interactive tablets at the table. While most managers said they’re still in the testing phase with the eTab, Presto, Rail, Ziosk and iPad, we have a feeling the computers are here to stay.

On the plus side, customers like tablets because you don’t have to track down the waiter to pay the bill. Restaurants like them too: people are more likely to order dessert and give higher tips by agreeing to the pre-selected option (often 18%). On the negative side, parents worry about competing for their kids’ attention with tablets pre-loaded games and some diners worry that their waiter (the human one) will be impossible to reach when the food isn’t up to par.

How do you feel about computers at the table? Share your thoughts in the comments.