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Old Mar 3, 10, 6:39 pm   #1
 
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Most Reliable Restaurant Review Sites

I was wondering which sites people found had consistently the most reliable restaurant reviews. I used to think Zagat was very dependable, then people suggested TripAdvisor, Yelp, and Chowhound, but I have found those three typically had reviews from people whose priorities were quite different from mine.

Actually, comments on FT have generally been extremely reliable, but they are so scattered and fragmented it is often hard to find what you are looking for.

Then there are the guidebook reviews, like Frommers, Fodors, etc.

Where do you go when you are headed for a new place and want to pick up some good information for dinner suggestions? Are there clues or buzzwords in the reviews that give you hints as to whether they are likely to be reliable?
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Old Mar 3, 10, 7:16 pm   #2
 
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I use zagat, but you must remember that most reviewers are locals so a 25 is Kansas City would rate an 11 in NYC and an 8 in Tokyo. I tend to use viamichelin, not because it is always wonderful, it's not, but because it is consistent. Once upon a time there was gault millau and they were wonderful. Now they're both dead.
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Old Mar 3, 10, 7:25 pm   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JerryFF View Post
Are there clues or buzzwords in the reviews that give you hints as to whether they are likely to be reliable?
YES !!

If someone posts about how the nachos are great, steer clear

If someone first posts about how huge the portion was and the food was 'good', steer clear

If someone in another thread posts about how great domino's, pizza hut, subway, Olive Garden, etc is, steer clear

If someone only posts about how the drinks are good, steer clear of the food, go for the drinks

I'd also add that I look for posts where someone has actually posted the menu or taken time to describe a dish instead of simply posting "food was great".

Last edited by Sweet Willie; Mar 3, 10 at 7:35 pm.
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Old Mar 3, 10, 7:27 pm   #4
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My biggest pet peeve is when people rate the service. Bad service is often not consistent. Just because your waiter had a bad night doesn't mean that the entire restaurant deserves one star. Too often I see service clouding judgment of the entire enterprise.

In general I've given up on review sites.
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Old Mar 3, 10, 9:05 pm   #5
 
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Originally Posted by magiciansampras View Post
My biggest pet peeve is when people rate the service. Bad service is often not consistent. Just because your waiter had a bad night doesn't mean that the entire restaurant deserves one star. Too often I see service clouding judgment of the entire enterprise.

In general I've given up on review sites.
Yeah I agree. I've found FT to be pretty useful though, although I generally find FT to be more reliable about most things.
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Old Mar 3, 10, 11:20 pm   #6
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Chowhound Los Angeles gives me heartburn. Same folks writing, ad nauseum, about the same restaurants. The restaurant du jour is now Animal. Lots of raves about pigs ears and entrails. Offal is now in.
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Old Mar 4, 10, 7:14 am   #7
 
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Chowhound Los Angeles gives me heartburn. Same folks writing, ad nauseum, about the same restaurants. The restaurant du jour is now Animal. Lots of raves about pigs ears and entrails. Offal is now in.
finally. now i don't have to go to france to get the good parts of the animal.

i use zagat. it is slow to change. i noticed the 2010 dc zagat has added a very large number of new places(all with no ratings).

most cities have a local reviewer for the newspaper and/or their city magazine. many of these are very good, and much more extensive than zagat. for example, DALLAS and the dallas and the fortworth newspapers have decent reviewers. they go to a lot of dinky whole in walls, and do quite well.

here in dc, we have the washingtonian, and the post has a reviewer. you will see a lot more places, a lot more new places.

not to say that some of these reviewers are real ding a lings. the post once had a revered reviewer who had chefs who were close friends. they could do no wrong. a lot of them were butter and creme guys. when she really porked out, she began rating all restaurants solely by the quality of their salads, as that is all she ate.
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Old Mar 4, 10, 2:18 pm   #8
 
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Originally Posted by slawecki View Post
finally. now i don't have to go to france to get the good parts of the animal.

i use zagat. it is slow to change. i noticed the 2010 dc zagat has added a very large number of new places(all with no ratings).

most cities have a local reviewer for the newspaper and/or their city magazine. many of these are very good, and much more extensive than zagat. for example, DALLAS and the dallas and the fortworth newspapers have decent reviewers. they go to a lot of dinky whole in walls, and do quite well.

here in dc, we have the washingtonian, and the post has a reviewer. you will see a lot more places, a lot more new places.

not to say that some of these reviewers are real ding a lings. the post once had a revered reviewer who had chefs who were close friends. they could do no wrong. a lot of them were butter and creme guys. when she really porked out, she began rating all restaurants solely by the quality of their salads, as that is all she ate.
Checking the websites of the local newspapers is a great idea - I hadn't thought of that. Thanks.
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Old Mar 4, 10, 2:27 pm   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by obscure2k View Post
Chowhound Los Angeles gives me heartburn. Same folks writing, ad nauseum, about the same restaurants. The restaurant du jour is now Animal. Lots of raves about pigs ears and entrails. Offal is now in.
obscure2k, have you had a chance to read the "Kevin Eats" blog? I find his perspectives very on-the-mark (he's adventurous but doesn't seem over-bamboozled by fads), and I especially like his writing style and his photos:

http://www.kevineats.com/
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Old Mar 4, 10, 4:57 pm   #10
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Originally Posted by Non-NonRev View Post
obscure2k, have you had a chance to read the "Kevin Eats" blog? I find his perspectives very on-the-mark (he's adventurous but doesn't seem over-bamboozled by fads), and I especially like his writing style and his photos:

http://www.kevineats.com/
I often read his blogs. I think he's a terrific writer. The only thing I don't understand is how he can seemingly consume every dish on the menu (unless he is dining with about a dozen people).
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Old Mar 4, 10, 6:14 pm   #11
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No one mentioned FT?

I find tripadvisor to be by far the worst review site. Chowhound, at least for NY and the tri-state area has proved somewhat reliable.

Another poster mentioned Midtownlunch.com and that's been a great blog for NYC.
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Old Mar 4, 10, 6:21 pm   #12
 
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Chowhound for sure. Yelp can be very unreliable, with extra time spent mining through the data to get to the helpful reviews.
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Old Mar 5, 10, 4:06 pm   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slawecki View Post
finally. now i don't have to go to france to get the good parts of the animal.

Off hand I would says things are looking up (despite the resistance) in the USA.

mike
p.s. to add to the topic I find Zagat supplemented by Chowhound's more recent type updates to be the best combination.
Not sure why anyone would find the postings on the latter site by foodies, (who often visit a lot of places and their opinions but also give you feel of an eatery and other/variousa
aspects of dining and do so more than average) could be considered a problem .. but food is one topic which never fails to amazes me including the interest or lack of it by others
.. far more than politics and way more interesting and soul satifying.

Last edited by MIKESILV; Mar 5, 10 at 4:20 pm.
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Old Mar 6, 10, 12:07 pm   #14
 
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Restaurant Info

One site that I think is useful is Gayot.com which uses the Gault-Millot 20 point scale. They cover a lot of cities and seem to be pretty reliable. There is another site that is only good for Vegas but they have an exhaustive analysis of steakhouses that blew me away and helps me look for steakhouses in other cities.

http://www.gayot.com
http://vegasmadeeasy.com/dining/steakhouses
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Old Mar 6, 10, 4:43 pm   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweet Willie View Post
If someone posts about how the nachos are great, steer clear

If someone first posts about how huge the portion was and the food was 'good', steer clear

If someone in another thread posts about how great domino's, pizza hut, subway, Olive Garden, etc is, steer clear
Sometimes you want nachos. Sometimes you want just plain ol' Tex-Mex nachos, instead of foo-foo pretentious nachos with goat cheese, arigula, and lemon oil. In fact, I can declaim on the differences in traditional nachos at a dozen different places, and appreciate learning of new ones. So, reviewers, if you're reading, please keep the nacho reviews coming. And while I occasionally like pretentious food, I also sometimes like decent, full-size-portioned food -- even from the occasional chain! Horrors! -- that others find enjoyable to to look down on with noses upraised as they contemplate how much more righteous their tiny plate of foofoo food is.

As to the original question, I usually use a combination of Yelp and TripAdvisor via their mobile apps.
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