The New Zagat Brings Location Reviews from Google

Aside from roaming aimlessly around the streets, the Internet is the most obvious way to find new places to eat, drink and relax. Yelp dominates the directory market in most countries but since 2011 Google have been building up a small acquisition of theirs: Zagat.

Zagat has just relaunched with an all new business model and apps to go along with it. The chic review site gained popularity in wealthy US cities such as San Francisco, New York and Washington DC. Now they’re taking things global by expanding into Europe, with London as their flagship city.

But what makes one jumped up directory site different from the rest? The new Zagat, for one, has added some cool features to embrace online communities and social networking, with quality multimedia content to boot. It’s definitely worth checking out.

What is Zagat?

Curated Reviews for Major Cities

Curated Reviews for Major Cities

The moment you visit Zagat, it’s obvious that it’s not a simple business review site like the rest. It look sleek, professional and respectable. That’s because Zagat isn’t based upon comments and rating sourced from anyone with an opinion. Instead, reviews and recommendations are left up to trusted users, approved by Zagat, who upload their experiences and reviews. These are then managed by Zagat  staff and compiled to form a comprehensive listing and review site for each main city.

Their belief is that “…the curated opinions of avid consumers with real experiences are inherently more accurate and useful than the unfiltered comments of a few.”

Features

Lists by location, price, food type and more

Lists by location, price, food type and more

An important addition to the site is the Trending Topics feature, pretty much replicating the Twitter trending topics. They monitor the discussions within the community to find out what’s going on in that locale.

There is also the list function which would be the main port of call for each city. There’s no  particular method to the madness of lists. Merely randomly categorized restaurants and venues based either on the location, type of food, prices, atmosphere and a host of other elements left up to the whims of the Zagat staff. And yet, they’re still great to browse and discover the kind of places you never would have regardless of how long you’ve been living in a city.

Buzz

Despite the fact that Zagat uses dedicated reviewers to sample what each city has to offer, they do involve users through their ‘Buzz’ section. When a new review or article is uploaded to Zagat, the buzz section is filled with comments and opinions. So, in a way, they still allow people to have their say about a restaurant or pub, albeit under the strict gaze of the Zagat admins.

I’m sure Buzz will be the least favourite part of the site for many, but I think it’s the best part of Zagat. Negative discussion, unhelpful criticism and trolling destroy sites like Yelp. Buzz, however, sets the bar for discussion on Zagat quite high.

Interesting review system in use at Zagat

Interesting review system in use at Zagat

The way in which each business is reviewed is unique to Zagat. Each aspect is ranked out of 30 with the price listed along side. For restaurants the food, decor and service are all rated. Pubs and clubs are also rated on their atmosphere.

Final Thoughts

Zagat still has a long way to go until it becomes a vibrant site at the top of the pack. It’s limitation to just a few select cities worked when it was using a paid subscription model – now however, the exclusivity must fade away so a full featured site with a good regularly visiting community can blossom.

Overall I like Zagat. It’s a good halfway house between The New York Times ‘Dining & Wine’ section and Yelp. If you’re looking for a great new place to eat this week, take it for a spin: you might be surprised by what you find.


Summary

Zagat is a Google owned review site for major US and International cities. Reviews of restaurants, pubs and clubs are all curated alongside quality content uploaded by the Zagat staff.

7