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Carmel Cafe

by Meghann on April 13, 2012

If you live in the Tampa Bay area (or are planning to visit soon!) I have a new restaurant you need to try!

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Carmel Cafe recently opened on North Dale Mabry and has been on my ‘must try’ list for months now. If you check out their Yelp page (by the way – are we friends on Yelp?) you’ll find dozens of reviews raving about the great food and quiet atmosphere. I’ve been dying to check it out to see if it truly lives up to all the hype, so when Courtney asked if I wanted to go out for lunch, it was one of the first places that came to mind.

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Hi Courtney!

Unfortunately there was some miscommunication on meeting times and I ended up arriving 30 minutes before Courtney. Oops. I had a rich and creamy cappuccino while I waited.

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When we were seated, the hostess presented us with an ipad and told us we had the option of ordering from directly from the ipad menu or through our server.   

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The ipad was kinda fun. It was basically set-up as a virtual menu where we could scroll through all of the different lunch options. The beautiful photos of each of the dishes were very persuasive when ordering. I began considering things I wouldn’t have thought of before and almost ordered an unnecessary starter and extra side just because the photos made me want to try them.

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You could also expand the menu options for more information on the dish.

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The combo options on the menu were what eventually won me over. (I love a good combo!)

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The best part about the virtual menu was that we didn’t have to wait for the server to order. We could just make our selections whenever we were ready and request them directly from the kitchen via the ipad.

I selected the 1/2 Flatbread Combo with Soup and hit the Add… button. I was immediately prompted with a beverage choice (iced tea)

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Then my soup or side choice (Minestrone Verde)

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And flatbread choice (seasonal with shrimp, mango, goat cheese, and arugula)

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There was an area for special instructions (i.e. no cheese or whatever) then you hit the final add-to-order button.

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All done.

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As soon as we placed our order, it was only a matter of minutes before our food arrived. Scratch that – it was seconds. They brought the food fast!

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The food more than lived up to all the hype. The Minestrone Verde Soup was hot, very flavorful, and very different from any minestrone soup I’ve had before – it was better.   

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The flatbead was great as well. I thought the 1/2 serving would be too small when they placed the plate in front of me, but it was very filling with the soup. I also loved the sweet and savory combo with the shrimp and mango.

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When we were done with our meal, we were able to pay our check right through the ipad.

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I love that they had a ‘Split The Check’ option. So much easier than going through the server.

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There was an option to leave a tip.

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I was hoping there would be a fun PayPal option, but they only had the traditional credit card (or you could go through the server with cash).

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Once we paid the bill, the server came by and told us we were all set. Easy peasy.

After lunch I informed Courtney there was a nearby cupcake place that was amazing. She was sold.

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I love Sweet Tweets. I’ve only been here once before (on my birthday!), but each time the staff has been so friendly and welcoming.

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We ordered the Dulce de Leche cupcake to share.

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The cupcake had a butter cake base with a caramel filling and a caramel buttercream frosting.

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It was terrible. Obviously. 😉

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Demolished.

Have you been to a new restaurant lately the incorporated technology in a fun way? What did they do?

1 Lindsey April 13, 2012 at 3:25 pm

That is awesome! So efficient too. I have never seen a restaurant use iPads before. I see many waitresses use their iPhones for orders but that is about all.
Lindsey recently posted..Foodie Friday

2 Kelly April 13, 2012 at 3:43 pm

I like the idea of using an iPad, but don’t they get super dirty and all fingerprinted up? I know standard menus do, too, but sometimes I’ll catch a glance at other people’s iPhones and they’re just downright filthy. I can only imagine what using an iPad in a restaurant would be like. 🙂

3 Christina April 13, 2012 at 4:17 pm

I work there – the hostess sanitizes them and cleans each and every one of them every single night (and sometimes more than once if its a table with a child!) 🙂

4 Allison April 13, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Wow, what a cool restaurant!
Allison recently posted..Friday Confessions

5 Krista April 13, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Hmmm…don’t know how I feel about this. While I think it’s a really cool concept for customers, I can’t help but wonder if this is going to lead to less jobs for waiters/waitresses. Don’t know if I can fully get on board with this. I’m always for the U.S. creating more jobs & I feel this might be taking away.

6 Hillary April 13, 2012 at 5:39 pm

Yeah, my boyfriend is a sociologist and he studies work scenarios similar to this one (like the self checkouts at supermarkets). There are so many social and economic issues that come up as a result of this technology, and, interestingly enough, they’re apparently eliminating a ton of self checkouts because people miss dealing with other people face to face!
Hillary recently posted..Be Kind.

7 Courtney April 13, 2012 at 3:54 pm

I agree with Krista. I think it’s a clever idea, and while it may not make servers obsolete, it definitely lessens the need to have as many as before and sets up questionable tipping scenarios. Do you not tip or tip less because they didn’t take your order or take your payment? Interesting stuff, for sure. As a former server, I can definitely see how this may be a cool idea, but could cause issues.
Courtney recently posted..Injuries May Test You, But They Shouldn’t Break You

8 Lisa April 13, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Nowwwww we are friends on Yelp – I’m totally addicted and have been for years. Yelp love!

9 Talia @ Bite Size Wellness April 13, 2012 at 4:25 pm

Okay that might be the coolest thing I have ever seen. Note to self for when I can open up my own cafe….virtually menus. Genius. I also think I am going to go on a hunt for a minestrone verde soup….looks so good!!
Talia @ Bite Size Wellness recently posted..Perfecting Your Plank

10 Steph @321delish April 13, 2012 at 4:34 pm

Looks so cool! How funny, because I was just doing some research for my work, and did a google search about “restaurant trends” when it talked about technology and the restaurant business, it totally talked about ordering and paying at your table! Here’s what it said:

“According to the National Restaurant Association’s 2012 Restaurant Industry Forecast, nearly 4 in 10 consumers say they’d be likely to use an electronic ordering system and menus on tablet computers at tableservice restaurants. About half said they would use at-table electronic payment options and a restaurant’s smartphone app to view menus and make reservations. At quickservice restaurants, about 4 out of 10 consumers say they would place online orders for takeout, use in-store self-service ordering kiosks, and use smartphone apps to look at menus and order delivery. ” (from http://restaurant.org/pressroom/pressrelease/?ID=2220)
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11 Kristen @ notsodomesticated April 13, 2012 at 4:46 pm

That is awesome, but I gotta ask one question … who are you tipping? What I mean is, does a waiter actually help you at any point? I typically tip AT LEAST 20%, but it would feel a little weird tipping that much when a computer was doing most of the work … ? But maybe I’m completely misunderstanding haha?!
Kristen @ notsodomesticated recently posted..The perfect springtime dessert.

12 Heather April 13, 2012 at 4:59 pm

oh my gosh that is so cool how you order at that restaurant! Love it! Technology never ceases to amaze me!
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13 Nanci April 13, 2012 at 5:05 pm

WOW! How cool is that to order and pay on an iPad. I bet the pictures of the menu items were incredible. They might be on to something. And oh my, that cupcake!!! It bet it was awful, lol. I must go to both of these places now!
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14 Katie @ Peace Love and Oats April 13, 2012 at 5:32 pm

That iPad ordering system is awesome!!! If they have ingredient or allergen information that would be so much easier than asking the waitress a million questions. I usually feel so awful because I can’t have gluten or soy!
Katie @ Peace Love and Oats recently posted..Do You Know Me?

15 Heather April 13, 2012 at 5:45 pm

That is very cool! I’ve never seen a menu like that before. The cupcake looked amazing also!
Heather recently posted..Banana Date Muffins

16 Sara@RunningInPinkProject April 13, 2012 at 6:57 pm

Hi!! Not to be totally random but where is this in relation to like Westchase and Citrus Park?
Sara@RunningInPinkProject recently posted..Late to the (Garmin) Party

17 Meghann April 16, 2012 at 3:01 pm

It’s between 20 – 25 minutes away. (basically on the other side of town, but not too bad if you don’t hit any traffic)

18 Angela @ Happy Fit Mama April 13, 2012 at 7:04 pm

That is really cool! I’ve never been to a restaurant like that before. Kind of makes you wonder if we are even going to need wait staff and cooks/chefs in the near future?
Angela @ Happy Fit Mama recently posted..2012 Boston Marathon – Who’s Running?

19 Kris @ www.kris-lawrence.com April 13, 2012 at 9:19 pm

I must be some old geezer because I hate the idea of ordering off an ipad. You’re doing exactly what your server would do for him/her, even splitting up your own check. I did that as a waitress for 5 years. Why would I want to do it now? I would feel like I was at WaWa punching for my own fast food sandwich. If I am paying restaurant prices than I want restaurant service.
Kris @ http://www.kris-lawrence.com recently posted..Drowning & Ambassadors

20 Carrie April 13, 2012 at 9:31 pm

I’d love to see a pic of every dish like on the iPad, but if I were the restaurant I’d worry about people wrecking and/or stealing them!
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21 Allison April 13, 2012 at 9:56 pm

My mom was just telling me about this place. I can’t wait to try it!

22 Natalie April 13, 2012 at 10:27 pm

I went to the location in Clearwater on McMullen Booth Rd and I totally agree that the food was really good and the service was super fast!! I loved the flatbread I had but I forgot which one it was since I went last year..The iPad ordering is super conevenient and so easy to use! I think every restaurant should have it

23 Life's a Bowl April 14, 2012 at 6:46 am

That’s so cool that a restaurant is using iPads as “servers”- efficient and gets ya exactly what you want, what’s not to love?! I’ve been to stores and checked out via iPod touch but not iPad- they also have attachments so you can swipe your credit card versus having to enter in the information manually!
Life’s a Bowl recently posted..Favorite Finds Friday 4.13.12

24 Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner April 14, 2012 at 9:31 am

I love that restaurant’s set-up! I love going out to eat with friends and family, but it is oh-so-difficult when it comes to the check; it always involves headaches. What a great idea!
Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner recently posted..13 Things to Love

25 Sam @ Fit for My Fork April 14, 2012 at 11:50 am

Wow! I love the idea of iPad menus. That is awesome! It would really make separating the bill super easy.
Sam @ Fit for My Fork recently posted..Primal and Not-so-Primal Pot Pies

26 Corrie @ Blurb Column April 14, 2012 at 2:04 pm

OMG! This idea is epically awesome! I would LOVE to go to a restaurant where I could order with an ipad!
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27 Allison April 15, 2012 at 4:15 am

I love Carmel! I’ve been there a few times and LOVE the food and wine selections!

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