'Zagat' on Serious Eats

Zagat vs. Yelp: A Restaurant Review 2.0 Showdown?

Randall Stross compared Yelp and Zagat in the New York Times on Sunday. While he correctly noted that Yelp now covers more restaurants than Zagat, and uses this as a launching pad to compare and contrast the two companies, he leaves out the most relevant points. Most notably, he completely whiffs on recent business goings-on in the world of user-generated restaurant reviews. My first question is what do serious eaters think about both Zagat and Yelp? And while you ponder that, here's what Stross should have pointed out in his comparison.... More

Nice and Easy to Read

Tim Zagat suggests that his technique of concise summaries are more accurate and informative than user-generated reviews: "We try to make it nice and easy to read—in as few lines as possible.” Online companies “are running into the problem that anybody can throw up things on the wall, and after a while there are just too many people doing it.” In an article ironically titled "Online Reviews of Hotels and Restaurants Flourish".... More

Zagat Survey Up for Sale

Zagat Survey, the company behind the original crowdsourced restaurant guide is seeking a buyer. According to the New York Times, the company, which was founded in 1979 by Tim and Nina Zagat and has since expanded its coverage to nightlife, hotel guides, and attractions, could be valued at $200 million. What started as a two-page typed list of the Zagats' and their friends' recommendations soon became best known for its tall, slim, burgundy guidebooks that rely on the information of thousands of diners to put together quotation mark–laden blurbs. But it's the company's online presence that could prove most interesting for potential buyers:... More

Michelin, Yelp, Zagat: Who Can We Believe?

The Wall Street Journal runs an article questioning the validity of online restaurant reviews by writers who are comped their meals. Two days later, Michelin releases its 2008 New York restaurant guide. These two events provide a perfect opportunity to discuss the relative merits of reviews and judgments rendered every which way, from on high (Michelin and the New York Times) to online (Yelp, Zagat, and food blogs). More

Stating the Obvious: The Zagat Survey Can Be Rigged

Steve Cuozzo writes very smartly in the New York Post about some of the inherent problems of Zagat Survey polling techniques and results. You don't have to be a statistician to understand that restaurateurs imploring their friends and customers to fill out Zagat Surveys make the results suspect at the very least. And no matter what safeguards Zagat Survey folks build into their methodology, they cannot prevent ballot-stuffing if it's done carefully. Think about this the next time you go to a highly rated Zagat Survey restaurant and have an awful meal. At least when Frank Bruni in NY or Sherry (Irene S.) Virbila in LA or Robb Walsh in Houston review a restaurant, you know where they are coming... More

Do Men Get Better Service At Restaurants?

Do men get better service than women at restaurants? asks Cynthia Kilian of the New York Post. Tim Zagat of the eponymous guidebooks says yes: "Women arriving together very often get shown to less-desirable seats. Men always seem to be offered the bill, regardless of who's paying, even the female boss. And when it comes to tasting wine, "very often they'll give it to almost every man at the table before they get around to [the woman] ordering the wine," Zagat says." Is the poor service because women tend to tip less than men do? Or do women tip less because they don't get treated as well? All I know is, shoddy service means I'll never go back—and I'll tell... More

Eating Out, Zagat-Style

Slate's Bryan Curtis had dinner with Tim and Nina Zagat, publishers of the Zagat Survey of New York restaurants to see what life is like for them. Yes, they eat pretty much all their meals out (even at their country estate), and yes, every place they go they get star treatment, recognized by maître d's and feted by owners: "The city's major food critics—Frank Bruni at the Times, say, or Adam Platt at New York—are treated like minor royalty upon entering a restaurant. But then they must actually review the restaurant, which can prompt bad feelings and make their re-entry a few months later a rather cold and uncomfortable occasion. The Zagats assign the reviewing to an army of readers... More

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