By Jessica Gelzer, 17, Granada Hills Charter HS
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Attention all video game addicts (yes, you WOW players): there is a way to go out for grub without having withdrawals. The innovative restaurant uWink, has combined the dining experience with video games. As its slogan succinctly explains, “Food, Drinks, Media.” The mastermind behind it all is Nolan Bushnell, the creator of Atari, the first video game console, and Chuck-E-Cheese.

The changing, projected pictures on the wall and alternative music create a new-age feel to the Woodland Hills location. Every table is equipped with a sleek, silver computer. First you order your food and drinks on the touch-screen, eliminating the middle-man (server), making it the next best thing since self-checkout. The menu is eclectic and expanding with salads, pastas, burgers, sandwiches and other various entrees serving palates that are both sophisticated—sushi and chicken with artichokes—and simple—mac and cheese.

While I still have many menu items to try, my favorite so far has been the build-your-own-burger. You are able to choose your own bun, meat or no meat, sauce and toppings. One of the many combinations I’ve tried included wheat ciabbata with a turkey burger covered in a balsamic reduction (sauce/spread), with fontina cheese, caramelized onions, lettuce, roasted peppers, avocado and marinated mushrooms (trust me, it all fit). A side of a salad, fries or sweet potato fries comes with the meal. I’ve had better sweet potato fries than the ones served here, so I normally opt for a side salad with a house chipotle dressing. The choices available would please any one. The prices are fairly reasonable for a night out—$8 to $14 per entrée.

While you are waiting for your food you can play games. There are a few fun games equivalent to Minesweeper, a spin of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” trivia and other simple games. They still have a long way to go in variety, as they only opened in the second half of 2006. The only multi-player game currently available is Truth-or-Dare. Most games are free, with a few costing a quarter.

The food comes within the first 15 minutes of ordering, so there isn’t much time to play the games. You can always extend your playing time after the meal and order their “Midnight Snack” of chocolate chip cookies and milk to munch on. The staff is friendly and calm, especially with all the glitches, like frozen screens and double orders, which naturally occur in a restaurant run on computers. Overall, I would suggest everyone try the restaurant for the experience. There are a few problems, but there is huge potential. The food is more creative and offbeat than the classics at family-style chain restaurants, even worth a try if you aren’t into gaming. Next time you video game addicts are hungry, perhaps grab a bite to eat at uWink.

Westfield Promenade
6100 Topanga Canyon Blvd. 2310
Woodland Hills, CA 91367

Check out L.A. Youth’s previous restaurant reviews:

Genevieve’s review of Solar de Cahuenga, a relaxed, crepe restaurant in Hollywood.

Charlene’s review of Le Pain Quotidien, a French bakery-style place  in Pasadena.