By inviting users to rate, review, and share pictures of individual restaurant dishes — whether they're worth ordering or not — Tasted Menu wants to help answer two questions, says founder Alex Rosenfeld. "People want to know what's good to eat at a particular place, and where can I find the best pad thai or chicken soup," says Rosenfeld, who started the site in the summer of 2009, after finishing Harvard Business School. Sites like Yelp, Zagat, and Chowhound can be useful in helping people find good places to eat, Rosenfeld says, but they don't help you navigate the menu once you get there.
Wednesday is the beta launch of the site. "We're sending out invitations to over 1000 people, focusing on the online food community," Rosenfeld says. (But if you don't get one, you can request an invitation to participate in the site's beta.) "Then, we're targeting late September or early October for our public launch." The site already contains reviews of more than 5000 dishes at about 1250 Boston restaurants, Rosenfeld says.
Tasted Menu will wind up competing with other sites that aim to direct diners to the best dishes, including Foodspotting, Nosh, and Forkly. (Goodplates, another Boston start-up that started off with a strategy quite similar to Tasted Menu, recently adopted a new name and focus.) Rosenfeld claims the start-up has built one of the most comprehensive collections of menu information from Boston restaurants, and says that the company "plans to aggressively expand nationally" following its Boston launch. "We have our next 12 or 13 markets laid out," Rosenfeld says, declining to reveal the cities on the list.
Tasted Menu has five employees in Coolidge Corner, and has raised about $350,000 in funding from 11 angel investors, Rosenfeld says. He adds that the company may attempt to raise a larger Series A round later this year. They're working on a Tasted Menu iPhone app, which would help the site gather more reviews and photos from diners who may not always tote their SLR camera along to supper.
Some screenshots below:
Tasted Menu page for the BLT sandwich at Flour Bakery and Café
Tasted Menu ranking of the best maguro (tuna) sushi in town
Tasted Menu page for Boloco
About Scott Kirsner
Scott Kirsner was part of the team that launched Boston.com in 1995, and has been writing a column for the Globe since 2000. His work has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, The New York Times, BusinessWeek, Newsweek, and Variety. Scott is also the author of the books "Fans, Friends & Followers" and "Inventing the Movies," was the editor of "The Convergence Guide: Life Sciences in New England," and was a contributor to "The Good City: Writers Explore 21st Century Boston." Scott also helps organize several local events on entrepreneurship, including the Nantucket Conference and Future Forward. Here's some background on how Scott decides what to cover, and how to pitch him a story idea.
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December 9: Web Innovators Group
Demos of new mobile apps and web ventures at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge. Free admission; cash bar.
December 10: Fintech Demo Day
Short demos from startups in the financial technology realm.
December 11: Unpitch
Entrepreneurs and investors sit down for lunch, advice, and feedback. Entrepreneurs must apply to participate.