Whether it is a fast food restaurant or a Michelin-starred fine dining affair, eating out always feels like a treat to me.
The very idea of someone cooking my meal on demand and then having someone else bring it to my table, while I do absolutely nothing, strikes me as being an excellent way to pass an afternoon or evening.
At university my diet consisted almost exclusively of sausage rolls, crisps and apples. As I have grown older, I would like to think that my palate has also matured and I can now appreciate the gastronomic creations of a skilled chef.
Even when you are planning to eat out, or actually sitting at a restaurant, your Nokia Lumia is always there to help you. How so? Here are some dining companion apps for your Nokia Lumia.
Finding a restaurant
The first step towards satisfying your culinary craving is to find a restaurant. In the past, this would have meant relying on word of mouth or newspaper reviews but thankfully we now have more tools (well, apps) at our disposal.
An app like TripAdvisor can help you to find somewhere to eat on the other side of the world. Similarly, the Unlike City Guides are also extremely helpful if you are searching for something away from the tourist crowds on your holiday.
For digging out local treasures you may want to give Foodspotting a try.
This lets you search for local restaurants, as well as filtering places by the type of food they serve.
You can pin your favourite restaurants and even specific dishes to your start screen, and there is also a Live Tile, so that you’ll be alerted if there’s somewhere new worth booking a table for.
As well as finding somewhere to eat, another key feature of Foodspotting is the ability to take photos of dishes and post them online within the app.
For another local restaurant finder and to have fun with some Augmented Reality, you can also use Nokia City Lens.
Eating out is great but it can also be a real strain on the finances. Even here, there are a couple of apps that can help you out.
This app lists the best deals from bars, cafes and restaurants in your area. This might range from 2 for 1 on drinks or a discount off the final bill.
The deals are shown on a map, you can save them to your favourites and share them with your friends. This is great for eating out on a budget.
The main meal
Your dining companion might very well get annoyed if you are checking your Nokia Lumia instead of eating the food.
However, I would argue that in between courses you are well within your rights to unlock the screen and tap away. There is still plenty of food-related things that you can do.
Before you get tucked in though, you may want to consult the TableEtiquette app (£0.79p). It doesn’t mention anything about using your smartphone at the table, but it can help you with picking the right spoon for the right dish.
MyFoodDairy helps you to track everything that you’ve eaten. This might sound superficial but it can be genuinely useful, for example where you are trying to pinpoint a food allergy.
Using this app your personal food data can also be emailed or exported as an Excel file.
The health conscious may also want to ensure that they are eating five fruit and vegetables a day. This app, 5 A Day, keeps track of your daily total for you.
The Calorie Counter app does exactly as its name suggests. It has a database of common foods, meals and even restaurants to make it as easy as possible for you to track your calories and the nutritional information of everything you eat.
You can also use it to keep a food diary, exercise diary, diet calendar and to track your weight.
If counting calories during a meal is too depressing for you to contemplate then you can stick to good old-fashioned reviews with the DishOnIt app. This is a social network for foodies who like to take photos of their food and give recommendations, or not as the case may be.
Paying the bill
After every great meal there is always a great bill that needs to be settled.
If you are eating out with a large group of friends then this can often lead to a tedious few minutes trying to calculate what everyone owes. Bill Splitter makes this task much easier.
You can choose to split the bill evenly, which is a simple division but the magical feature is the uneven split, where it calculates exactly what everyone ate and what they need to pay.
Another aspect of the bill that exercises a lot of diners is the tip. The Perfect Tip Calculator has a lovely scrolling wheel to help you work out the tip as a percentage of the final bill.
Scroll one way for a low percentage; scroll the other way for a higher one.
What else can your Nokia Lumia do after helping you choose a restaurant, keeping track of what you eat, sharing photos of your favourite dishes and calculating the bill?
How about Nokia Maps and Nokia Transport (also known as Nokia Transit) to get you home?
Let us know if you have ever used your Nokia Lumia smartphone as a dining companion.