Since 1969, restaurant, hotel, travel & other witty reviews by a handpicked, worldwide team of discerning professionals—and your views, too.

October 2001

The Complaint: The Zagat Survey

"This surveyor has to admit that Zagat's restaurant survey is 'phenomenally successful' and 'useful—at the very least for addresses.' But it is also 'irksome in the extreme.' First of all, it is 'shockingly lenient.' (Of the more than 1,500 restaurants in the New York 2001 edition, not a single one received a food rating of 'poor to fair,' and only 50 restaurants rate 'fair to good.') This surveyor also found it 'annoyingly arcane' (Babbo is rated among the city's most popular restaurants but not among the most visited) and filled with 'lame wordplay' (a Mexican-restaurant entry ends with the phrase 'need we say más?'). Not only that, but this surveyor finds the 'opinions of an anonymous army of Uncle Ralphs and Aunt Selmas' to be 'oftentimes way off the mark.' (Is the food at Miss Mamie's Spoonbread Too in New York really better than at the glorious Guastavino's, hands down New York's best new restaurant last year, as Zagat ratings indicate?) For alternatives, at least in New York, sample the 'more reliable' TimeOut Eating & Drinking Guide or Gayot New York City Restaurants."
—John Mariani


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