December 21, 2007

Ziggedy Zaggedy Zagat

Zagat%20store%20display.jpg Zagat%20in%20the%20window.jpg

The new Zagat is out, at least the one "devoted to Seattle" restaurants. And with "all due respect" to "local editor" Alicia Comstock Arter (who also contributes to Northwest Palate), it's "a freakin mess." The trouble, "brewing for years," is that the "capsule reviews" take isolated "nouns and adjectives" from "reader comments" and string them together to make "nonsensical" and "often inaccurate" profiles. It's a Fox News approach to dining, all pseudo-oracular, disjointed headlines with "little substance."

For the record: 759 eateries, contributions from 3,165 self-described frequent diners. Herbfarm leads the list for food and service, as expected, but second place for food goes to a bakery in West Seattle, for God's sake. The Georgian leads for decor. Canlis, Rover's and Mistral also score at the top level. But Uptown Espresso as the city's "best buy"? Seattle's a cheapskate town, as if we didn't already know: average check here is $27.68 while the national average is $33.15. (Why should this be described as a good thing?)

Another problem: the misleading ranking of what Zagat calls the "most popular" restaurants. Zagat's top five: Wild Ginger, Dahlia Lounge, Metropolitan Grill, Canlis and Zoe. Actual retail "most popular" (most customers, highest revenues) are Space Needle, Salty's, Ray's, Daniel's Broiler. Either most Zagat diners don't eat where the rest of us do, or they lie about it.

Not to mention that a book like this is outdated even before it hits the bookstores, never mind the editor's note suspiciously dated Dec. 5, 2007. Supposedly "new" places that aren't new at all (DiVino, Wild Rover, Lark, Umi). Oh, and don't think you can go to Tavolata for a "quiet conversation."

More wildly inaccurate stuff online, where ZigZag Café is said to be "cigar friendly" (WTF?); a reader complains that Salumi 's menu isn't vegetarian-friendly (this could happen only in Seattle!); other readers ding Rover's and Canlis for being stuffy and overpriced (duh). It's the Yelp-ification of dining: acclamation and judgment by noisy, ignorant boors.

If you like this sort of thing, the online version is free with registration. Bottom line for the print version: "a waste of $12.95."

Posted by Ronald Holden at December 21, 2007 3:36 PM | TrackBack

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how can the Herb Farm be the best albeit zagat says so. the herbfarm is overpriced and pretentious and after one has been there a few times the dog and pony show at the beginning is a real "tourist attraction".

Posted by: mark at January 1, 2008 9:13 PM

Maybe Bakery Nouveau is on the list because Seattle has finally come to appreciate really great baguettes. But as a restaurant? Give me a break.
(Oh, and I'm one of the "morons." Only because I want to be sure that truly cool places like 94 Stewart get mentioned.)

Posted by: Shelly Johnsen at December 22, 2007 5:55 PM

This is exactly why I can't wait for your book Ron!

Posted by: Lisa Hilderbrand at December 22, 2007 12:27 PM
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