We were impressed by Dish.fm‘s iPhone and mobile Web app, which launched late last year, meshing restaurant review data from the likes of Yelp and Foursquare with food photos from Instagram into a beautifully presented package. Now the startup has launched an iPad version that is less about finding the perfect meal on the go and more about sitting back at home and letting your eyes do the eating.

Yes, this is a ‘leanback’ experience that allows you to browse photos of the food available at restaurants nearby or in any of the cities currently supported by Dish.fm. “There are millions of searches for each dish in Google,” says Dish.fm co-founder Zhanna Sharipova, “so people actually search for ‘Best tiramisu in NY’, ‘Best pho in San Francisco’, etc. At the moment Yelp and other services like that compare restaurants based on their overall rating, what we can offer is actually comparing dish to dish. We make local search really granular. You can really find whatever you are looking for.”

Diving into one of the 15 US cities currently supported by Dish.fm is a real visual feast, with large, user-generated photos of the most popular food offered by local restaurants there.

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You can tap any image for a closer look and to explore the other dishes offered by that restaurant. If you’re in the city concerned, you can search by distance, but otherwise it’s best to stick to the ‘Most tasty’ ranking. If you prefer to search by restaurant that’s possible too, although the pure mouthwatering food porn is more accessible if you use the ‘Dishes’ search.

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An alternative way of discovering meals and restaurants is via the well-designed map view (well, Dish.fm did win a The Next Web Startup Award for design recently, after all).

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Dish.fm is an interesting company as it’s a Moscow-based team targeting the US market. While only 15 cities are currently supported, the plan is to add 850 more towns and cities (again, US-only for now) by the end of this week. The monetization plan here is twofold – to allow restaurants to place ads against specific searches within the app, and to sell premium accounts to restaurants, allowing them to see analysis on where their dishes stand against their neighbours. In the longer term, there are plans to allow users sitting inside restaurants to order dishes directly from the app, similar to the likes of Storific.

If you’re in the USA and love to eat restaurant food by proxy, or just want to plan your future restaurant-going nights out, the Dish.fm iPad app is highly recommended.

➤ Dish.fm for iPad

Image credit: Thinkstock

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