Wednesday, April 28

Yahoo! Expands Restaurant Vertical with Menu information

For those of you who know me, you know that I love to cook, and to eat. So I was excited when today the Yahoo!Search blog highlighted the addition of a new feature to that allows you to search for a specific dish at local restaurants. The post makes vague reference to information extraction from menus:
By extracting structured content – in this case, menu items – from unstructured web pages and matching them to restaurant entities, Yahoo! Search can return results of restaurants near you that serve the dish you crave for when you enter the name of the dish in the search box. You can also try this experience in Yahoo! Local.
I tried a search for roasted chicken, san francisco. I expected Zuni Cafe and their world famous roasted chicken with bread salad. However, I was disappointed and the vertical did not trigger. Giving it another shot, I tried burger northampton, ma. My favorite burger joint, Local Burger is second on the list; right after burger king. Not horrible, but not great either. The local ranking could be improved.

I love the idea, but it still needs work. First, I usually don't think of a specific dish when I'm picking a restaurant, unless it's pizza or a burger and its pretty obvious in these cases. What I would really love to see are search options that let me find restaurants with menus that cater to specialty diets. For example, find me a restaurant with options that are gluten-free, low sodium, kosher, dairy-free, etc... This is important because like many other people I know, my mom has celiac disease and other dietary restrictions.

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