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It’s going to get a lot tougher for chefs to complain about customers’ cell phone use at the dinner table. At least with a straight face. Restaurants everywhere are rolling out their own flickering gadgets: the new Elisir has its wine list on an Android tablet, 901 has illuminated its entire menu at nighttime on battery-powered back-lit contraptions and servers at the forthcoming Hamilton will carry hand-held devices to enter your order and swipe your credit card. You can expect to see a whole lot more of this, too. According to a survey of some 1,800 chefs by the National Restaurant Association, roughly a quarter expect “tablet computers (i.e. iPads for menus and wine lists)” to be the hottest technology trend for the food service industry in 2012.  Smartphone apps (26 percent) and “mobile/wireless/pay-at-the-table payment options” (16 percent) also make the trendy list.

Photo courtesy of 901