UWink Part I: The ConsumerMachine’s Team’s Dream/Nightmare Assignment

by janet on March 10th, 2007

UWink. As soon as it crossed the CM team’s (meaning James’, since I am technologically out of it sometimes) consciousness, we knew we had to go. It was a match made in heaven for us: a restaurant with a technological bent!

UWink is a publicly traded company (OTC Bulletin Board: UWNK) created by Nolan Bushnell, who is famous for creating both Atari and Chuck E. Cheese’s. With that kind of resume, you’ve got to have high expectations for what’s going to come out of that crazy mofo’s head. Enter UWink. It’s a modern comfort food meets digital entertainment restaurant (with great food; see below) that has computers at each table. You order your food via a touch-screen menu, and while you dine you can play games (including table-to-table tournaments) or watch movie trailers.

All this we learned from James’ research. To check it out in person, we immediately (not really; more like two weeks) made a date (not really; more like a conversation like, “Wanna go?” “Ok.”) to make the trek (40 minutes – this shit is in Woodland Hills). Warning – we drove around forever trying to find it. It’s nestled in the second floor of one of the three thousand mall complexes in the Warner Center area of Woodland Hills. James drove around it once and missed it; I retraced his steps and found it via a small sign.

Good landmarks are Maggiano’s, Corner Bakery, or Barnes & Noble.

The interior is, as expected, ultra-modern and sleek. There are about a bazillion LCD projectors projecting cool (in their words, “scrumptious i-candy”) photos, some with NUDITY of the MALE kind (this becomes important later).

Why the dash in “i-candy?”

We were seated at a table that said “Welcome, James!” but then were ushered to another table because the original one was apparently broken. We had assumed from the description that we would sit on opposite sides of the table and play games against each other on our own screens, but they seated us both on the same side, and it became clear that one screen was supposed to service both of us. They gave us each a card that you hold up against the side of the computer that registers the user (theoretically making it easy to split tabs and keep score in games).

Who’s sexy hand is that?

OK, so some drama went down, but you’ll have to wait for Part II to hear about it. In Part I, I am going to handle the food description, because the food really was excellent. We’re going to give UWink credit where it’s due first, and then commence with the well-deserved battering.

We pored through the menu, looking through their drink menu first. I ordered a raspberry mojito and James ordered something with Midori in it. Some of these photos are blurry because I had to take them on the down low for reasons that will become apparent in Part II.


The mojito was fabulous with real raspberries; not sure about the Midori as James spilled it immediately (and it wasn’t replaced…boo).

We perused the appetizers, and found this intriguing little guy:

Modernizing low-brow food is SO hot right now.

In case you can’t read it, it says “Spiced potatoes coated in bread crumbs and served crispy, then drizzled with jalaperema and chipotle ranch dressing.” Oh my.

Each dish had nutritional information and ingredients listed, which was nice. We ordered the tater tots, and just like the drinks, it came out immediately, magically.

Three bites of heaven.

These fucking tater tots were so fucking good, fuck! Beautifully crispy, luscious with the jalaperema and chipotle sauces, YUM! We could have eaten about a trillion more.

For our entrees, James built his own burger which came out piled high:

Tall bites of heaven.

I’m holding out hope that this burger will appear in one of James’ burger tour posts, so I will refrain from describing it here.

I was on a major beef kick, so I ordered the braised beef with fried onion rings and mashed potatoes.

Braising is my new favorite.

The meat was succulent and tender, edible with just a spoon, even. It was pretty heavy, though, and by the end it got very boring. Same taste over and over. But the first seven bites were delicious.

We ended with a creme brulee, which came out served with fruit, but was immediately whisked away by a server mumbling something about “it’s not done, it’s not done.” It had looked rather pale, and when it came back out it was the nice browney color a creme brulee should be.

Way to glisten, baby.

At well over 50 buckaroos, this place isn’t cheap. But the food was delicious. And, the middle-management-induced drama made the night more exciting. But you will have to stay tuned for Part II: In which we meet Nolan, get harrassed, and then they suck up to us.

3 Responses to “UWink Part I: The ConsumerMachine’s Team’s Dream/Nightmare Assignment”

  1. simon says:

    if ever there was a tater tot that i would marry, it would be that one.

  2. zagil says:

    i think every new technology has the bugs in the first step and when you are looking at Nokia they do have multimillion bugs in there every new phone relase so wait and look at it after Jul thats my expectation.

  3. Simon says:

    where is part ii?

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