Restaurant reviews are so 2008. Today, the latest Internet food craze starts with the camera on your phone and the food on your plate. When you order an item that looks tasty, you share it on a new social network called Foodspotting. If you're wondering who has time to post pics before eating, the site currently features more than 90,000 food sightings from around the world.
Foodspotting launched earlier this year, but it's just starting to gain traction here in Canada. Take a spin through photos from Vancouver and you'll find buttery short-stack pancakes at Jethro's Fine Grub and an up-close shot of cornbread from the Memphis Blues Barbeque House. Each photo is listed beside an address for the restaurant, a Google Map, and even a Wikipedia link if the featured food has an entry in the online encyclopedia.
Unlike Yelp, which is a popular online destination for restaurant reviews, Foodspotting focuses on good food sightings (versus negative reviews). In other words, the goal is not to rip apart your local pub, but to highlight where people in your neighbourhood should go to eat. If someone has shared an item that you've tried, you can like that food (or "Nom It", which is the Foodspotting equivalent). You can also say you want to try the item or leave a comment for the spotter.
As of right now the only official mobile app is for the iPhone, but they're working on developing for other platforms. The focus is on sharing foods in your neighbourhood, but you can also earn points ("tips") for submitting foods that get lots of likes (which could lead you to a Super Spotter title, which is the social gaming element on the site).
For people who discover great restaurants but don't know what to order, a service such as this is valuable. If enough people share photos, you'll be able to browse through the best-looking items and see which orders rise up the ranks. The one thing missing right now is how much some of these great-looking dishes cost, but if foodies keep posting pics chances are that this will be just one of many features to be added in the months to come.
Even if you're not looking for a place to eat today, it's worth a visit to the site to check out thousands of beautiful food photos. However, take it from me, don't browse on an empty stomach.