And the Survey Says???

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A wise man himself, a famous Latin writer once said, “Many receive advice, only the wise profit by it.” – Syrus

In modern times, we’re still looking for great advice, and it’s still just as hard to find.

Maybe even more so nowadays…

Today, with so many people in the world, so many more news agencies, books, advisors, and the Internet, you’d think the world would be full of advice.

And it is.

It’s just not all “good” advice.

So that said, where do you go to get advice about getting “Good Advice?”

When it comes to culinary advice, specifically for dining, travel and entertainment, you’ve come to the right place. I know just where you can find it. And it’s all in a word:

Zagat.

What Is Zagat?

The Zagat Survey was established by Tim and Nina Zagat in 1979 as a way to collect and organize the ratings of restaurants by actual diners. Not reviewers–diners, just like you and me.

The Zagats’ first survey covered whatever restaurants their friends frequented in New York City. As their membership grew, so did their reach, and as of 2005, the Zagat Survey included 70 cities, with reviews based on the input of over a quarter-million individuals.

In addition to restaurants, Zagat now rates hotels, nightlife, shopping, zoos, music, movies, theaters, golf courses and airlines. The guides, just like Michelin Guide, are sold in book form. And as of May 2012, they’re now part of Google, which has made the Zagat.com site free to use.

Zagat smartphone app

How Does Zagat work?

Zagat’s rating system is broken down into various categories within each type of business or service, with a 30-point ceiling for each category. Restaurants, for instance, can achieve a maximum of 30 points each for food, service, décor and cost. The ratings also offer personal comments written by each respondent, which range from wonderful to wicked (and occasionally, witty).

Speaking of free, perhaps the best part about Zagat is that it is rather free of the bias of “professional” reviewers whose opinions I respect but whose experiences at any one venue are generally limited to one or two visits.

The Zagat Survey is just that, a survey of many people from all walks of life. They may not be “expert” reviewers, but their experiences are genuine and (usually) quite reliable. And if you find through your own experiences that you can trust one specific person’s reviews (as many people submit multiple reviews to the survey), you can actually use him or her as your own personal “advisor.”

I have submitted many reviews of restaurants to Zagat (mainly in Detroit) and I’ve enjoyed reading about the experiences others have had at the same restaurants I’ve reviewed. And when people ask me where they should dine in a city I’m not as familiar with as I am Detroit, I do most of my research on Zagat.

Zagat is also an “App,” which (if you have a smartphone) you can use from anywhere you happen to be. It’s one of my most valuable culinary “advice” resources and one that I know you’ll personally “profit” from.

Give it a try, and let me know what you think!