uWink Opens Its Doors in Downtown Mountain View

It sounds like a child’s fantasy: endless free games to play during dinner time, allowing children to avoid needless conversations with their parents, but in reality, it is uWink.

uWink is a new restaurant in downtown Mountain View based on the idea of creating an interactive dining and entertainment experience. Touch screen computers are located at each table, from which patrons can order food and play games.

The touch screens are the highlight of the restaurant. The menu is completely laid out on the computer and is available in multiple languages, from Spanish to Hindi. Each meal has a helpful description. There are also options to customize meals, from making a steak medium rare to taking away the onions from a burger.
Once the initial order is sent to the kitchen from the computer, service is quick. Drinks are at the table within moments, and appetizers and meals swiftly follow.

Throughout the meal, there are options on the computer to call a server to the table, get a refill for drinks, order dessert or just about anything else, eliminating the need to flag down a waiter.

Unfortunately, the quality of service deteriorates after first ordering a meal. For any extra things like drink refills or desserts, service is slow and unreliable.

The touch screens ease the process of ordering food. There is no more searching for a waiter to order. Also, the technology itself is simple to use. A server explains the layout of the computer to any first time patrons, and the system is easy to pick up from there.

Then, to alleviate the boredom of waiting for food, there are countless games to play. The games are free, and can be played with people throughout the restaurant or individually. There are card games, including variations of solitaire and blackjack, strategy games like Bejeweled, a comedy section with Exam Bloopers and Demotivateors, movie trailers and even a version of Pictionary.

The games are a lot of fun and extremely absorbing. Time absolutely flies while playing them, as hours slip by without notice.

The touch screens occasionally have technical problems and freeze up during games or while ordering. Though waiters can help fix the problem, it can be annoying.

The food is typical American food, such hamburgers, pasta, salad and steaks. There is not a lot of variety, as the menu only contains around a dozen dinner items.

Additionally, the food is not cooked extremely well. It is simply average, rather like the Cheesecake Factory. Meals are not burnt or cooked badly, but there is nothing that makes them stand out. The technology completely overshadows the food, and at times the games make people forget their meal.

uWink is located at the corner of Castro Street and California Street in downtown Mountain View. Its doors are open from 11 AM to 10 PM Monday through Thursday, 11 AM to 12 AM Friday and Saturday and 11 AM to 9 PM on Sunday.

Overall, uWink is definitely worth the trip to downtown Mountain View for a chance to experience a truly unique form of dining.

Grade: B+