Ordering food through Caviar is a comparatively straightforward and uncluttered experience. The relative sparseness of Caviar's offerings has the paradoxical effect of making you feel as if you actually have more choice because you aren't looking at 24 places all selling pizza.
And when it comes to choosing a restaurant, one is presented with a clear matrix of choices featuring well photographed shots of the food.
"I wasn't convinced that I needed the service," says [Chef Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese], "but once I tried it from home and I was able to order Frankies Sputino 570's eggplant parmesan from my couch, I changed my mind."
Caviar works like any other food delivery site, except this place has the really, really good restaurants on board. We're talking Cha Cha Cha and Uva Enoteca in San Francisco, Wild Ginger and Japonessa in Seattle + Corner Bistro and Katz's in NYC. Best of the best, right?
I think it's safe to say Caviar has reinvented the food delivery world–I mean, what's better than ordering from Pommes Frites in your PJs and never having to step foot outside?
Our crack team of gallant investigators holed up near Columbus Circle and visited the site to scope out options. Among others, they've got Katz's Deli, Corner Bistro, Han Dynasty and (once it reopens) Mission Chinese. So... good start.
After each investigator added their choices separately via the "Share your cart" option, the order was placed. They were then given a page through which they could see when their order went out and track it in real time. During which time productivity plummeted.
The Verdict ... ... Sorry, our intrepid investigators' mouths were full of hot, spicy dan dan noodles. It works. Every part. And took just about an hour. Magic is real.
Caviar's ethos is quality over quantity. Caviar carefully selects the restaurants and takes beautiful, drool-worthy photographs of every dish. This is particularly useful for people like me, who find it difficult to make ordering decisions without a visual."
"We are finally giving local businesses, namely restaurants in our case, the ability to distribute their product to an entire city simply by plugging into our platform," [cofounder and CEO] Wang said. "On the other side, we are empowering millions of people to order food from places they would normally have to spend 30 minutes getting to and then waiting 60-plus minutes in line."
Young companies like Munchery, Zesty, and Sprig focus on delivering healthier food. Caviar's focus isn't on nutrition, but rather on elevating the quality of the online ordering experience. "
By working with restaurants directly, Caviar can provide a higher-quality experience than you might get if you used some other, non-partnered service to order takeout and bring it to you.
It also allows group ordering, so that you can send a link around to your coworkers or roommates and have them pick from menu items, without having to go through the trouble of writing down everyone's selection yourself.*
The company added a new feature where you can schedule orders up to six days in advance. Having an office party later in the week and want to make sure everyone gets what they want from an awesome restaurant? Caviar's got you covered.
* This has proven wildly popular in the San Francisco office, especially between Anthony Ha, Felicia Williams, and myself when we're feeling lazy and want lunch.
To date I have ordered (ouch) $1,685.59 worth of food, from some of my favorite restaurants, through Caviar.
No neighborhood restrictions. No more wondering, When's it gonna get here? You can GPS-track your order online, of course. No scrambling for cash or figuring out a few-bucks'-tip on the fly.
I admit, this Caviar addiction could be getting out of hand. The other night, my husband and I spent $33 for two carnitas burritos. A little ridiculous, I realize. But the luxury of eating Nick's Crispy Tacos while watching Homeland - without having to leave our living room? Priceless.
Craving piping hot Dan Dan noodles from Han Dynasty? How about an overstuffed Katz's pastrami on rye? Or perhaps Mission Chinese Food's famously explosive chicken wings? What if we told you that all of these dishes could be delivered directly to your home or office today in just a few clicks?
And get this - users can track their meal couriers via a real-time tracking system. From personal experience, this little tool is great fun for the hungry and impatient. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh. Refresh.
It remains to be seen if a service such as Caviar can make it in the big city. If their expanding selection of NYC grub is any indication (in addition to the aforementioned places, Caviar features Baohaus, Caracas Arepa Bar and Corner Bistro, among many others), the answer is a resounding YES.
No cash changes hands; all the money is dealt with online, and there's a $9.99 flat fee for orders, which includes tip.
"Our sole focus is on restaurants, all of our delivery drivers are trained to handle food," Wang said. There are photographs of every restaurant dish on the site, and it's possible to customize orders down to, say, ordering a "wet" and spicy Gorditos burrito.
Orders can either be placed on-demand or can be set up to six days in advance. There's GPS tracking to see how far away your food is. A particularly nice feature to my eye, and to anyone who has lived to regret asking officemates "I'm running out for lunch, want anything?" is a "group" option where friends or co-workers can share an online cart.
Caviar's different, offering a selection - and often a wide one - from the menus of some of Seattle's very favorite restaurants. Choose dishes from Japonessa, Skillet Counter, Wayward Vegan Café. Without leaving your home you can enjoy Café Lago's justly fabled lasagne. The chilaquiles from Senor Moose Café. Hanoi tuna and Sichuan green beans from Wild Ginger.
Caviar co-founder Jason Wang told me that on average, it takes 17 minutes for delivery from the restaurant to a user's home.
Along with that, Caviar has a feature to enable group ordering, simplifying the process of multiple users deciding what they want when all ordering together.
The Caviar team set out to create a web-based service that would take all of the pain out of that experience, and the result is flat-rate delivery fee of $9.99 from any of its partner restaurants with an average delivery time of 17 minutes anywhere in San Francisco and Treasure Island.
Caviar delivers meals from eateries which are highly rated on customer review site Yelp.
Caviar claims that its service gives diners access to those restaurants where long queues and waits for food are common due to their popularity. Each restaurant partnering with the site must have a rating of four stars or more on Yelp.
The Interwebz have once again come to the rescue with Caviar, an invitation-only service delivering food from 11 of SF's best casual restaurants. None of which offer their own delivery service.
You pre-pay, schedule your delivery for after your noon conference call, and voila! Carne asada tacos Nick's Way arrive at your office in SoMa at the appointed hour.
Only restaurants that have been given at least four stars out of five on Yelp will be included on the site. To add to the convenience, users can also track the order in real-time.
Caviar has a flat-rate delivery fee of $9.99, which is worth while if you're ordering a lot, or with a bunch of people. It might be a great online system for catering, or colleagues looking to have lunch together but without the fuss of leaving the office.
In addition to cherry-picking vendors, Caviar also offers picture menus, real-time delivery tracking and no minimum order limits in order to be competitive with startups like Seamless or GrubHub. It also offers scheduling options in addition to “Deliver Now,” with a $9.99 flat rate anywhere in SF and Treasure Island.
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