As of Friday, Google now offers restaurant menus as part of its search function. One can type "show me the menu for" and a restaurant (or in some cases, a restaurant name then "menu"), and Google will return a menu at the top of the page, sorted by categories such as salads, lunch specials, and desserts. At this point, the restaurant choices are limited, but Google will be expanding the search over the next few months.
The good news is that now one can avoid some of the clunky, flash-based websites that many restaurants use. Menu options will be posted in a clear, consistent format that's easily accessible. Customers can quickly browse among restaurants without having to navigate through entire webpages. The flip side is that restaurants who have distinguished themselves in the past by their excellent online menu will now be forced to compete on an even playing field. For example, there are no images displayed in the Google search, and while prices are often included, nutritional information is absent. If the customer desires to place an order online, he or she must still access the restaurant's website.
The menu search functions similarly to the weather feature in that Google pulls data from a data partner and displays it in a user-friendly fashion. At this point, the data partner for restaurant menus remains unnamed, although AllMenus.com has been put forth as a suspect.
Right now, the menu search is in its introductory phase, but as Google expands and improves its menu search functions, date nights and group hangouts should be that much easier to plan.
On The Web:
Google Adds Full Restaurant Menus To Its Search Results Pageshttp://techcrunch.com/2014/02/28/google-adds-full-restaurant-menus-to-its-search-results-pages/