If this is the future, then it comes with very large dry cleaning bills. And cold burgers.
I am here at YO! Sushi to test the new prototype iTray, the latest gimmick to grace a London restaurant. It is part waiter, part attack-helicopter, which conspires to be both menacing and inefficient.
Atop the remote-controlled flying drone is perched a tray of food. The chicken burger in a rice-cracker bun, salad and crisps slowly lose their kitchen-heat and appeal as they hover near – but never actually onto – my table.
The drone is being controlled by a waitress, who is using an iPhone and the Japanese restaurant's wi-fi to try to steer the contraption, and my lunch, towards me.
On the third attempt, the prawn crackers get caught in the updraught and are immediately sliced in the blades of the chopper, causing carbohydrate shrapnel to go flying in all directions. I take cover behind the soy sauce bottle.
"We've a bit of work to do," says Alan Twigg, the spokesman for YO! Sushi, before rushing off to find yet more batteries to power up the spluttering machine. Robots may be taking over the world, but they are chewing through plenty of AAs as they go.
Some in the restaurant world are mildly alarmed at yet another attempt to cut back on waiters. Fred Sirieix, manager of Galvin at Windows restaurant, who organises National Waiters' Day, says: "Ninety-nine per cent of people want human interaction when they go to a restaurant. They want to feel special."
I am feeling very special, because by now a crowd has gathered on the street in Soho, London, to watch with bemused interest. It's like feeding time at some futuristic zoo – and I am the monkey.
Twigg, to give him credit, does not pretend this contraption will ever replace waiters completely. "But we'd seriously like to get it working in some of our restaurants. It's really about the whole YO! experience, which has always been experimental, and a bit of theatre."
This is not the first time restaurants have been portals to the future. When Wimpy opened its doors in 1954, it was heralded as "jet age eating". A breathless review at the time said its "mechanised" food "can be eaten in less than 10 minutes, leaving the rest of a lunch hour for shop gazing, flirting and jazz".
Since then things have moved on at a relentless pace, from fast-food joints dispensing with the need for waiters, to a restaurant in Nuremberg, Germany, where you order your food from a touchscreen at your table and wait for it to be sent down a Heath Robinson-style helter skelter. In China they are experimenting with fully robotic waiters.
In the 1990s, a bar in Manchester priced its beers according to the principles of a stock market, changing the tariffs on a minute-by-minute basis and displaying them on a big electronic screen. Popular beers would shoot up in price, while unloved brands would become ever cheaper, presenting would-be "investors" with a bargain. The bar didn't last long.
But possibly the greatest innovator has been YO! Sushi itself, which changed the restaurant scene when it opened in 1997, not least because it introduced companies to the infuriating habit of including extraneous punctuation marks in their names.
It was a Japanese restaurant, with a no-booking policy, owned by an Englishman. The head chef was Algerian.
YO! Sushi was the first place where most people had come across conveyor-belt sushi (dishes would slowly snake along 60 yards of carousel around the tables, allowing diners to help themselves), and a robotic drinks trolley, which spoke to you and occasionally malfunctioned.
More than anything, it popularised sushi, which was until then an exclusive cuisine served by cleaver-wielding chefs. Now, it is as cheap and common a lunchtime option as a bacon sandwich. Marks & Spencer sells enough of the stuff to wrap its seaweed paper around the M25 every year.
Crucially, you never really went to YO! to eat high-quality raw fish, you went to have fun.
And eating out, especially in these days of recession-busting, dine-in-for-£10 ready meals, should be about enjoying yourself and making the most of being away from the house and the washing-up.
I never was served my meal. We gave up after the fourth attempt, in which time we could have landed a probe on Mars. But it was fun trying.
The Telegraph, London