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Jan 15, 2007 02:43 PM

Zagat.. What is it good for?

As the song would say', absulotely nothing! I use mine as a starting off point, but the food ratings to me are way off. If the crowd isn't pretty the average Zagat reviewer wants nothing to do with the place. If the place is trendy however it gets an immediate "24" for food.

Now I find it to be like this in Manhattan. What about other cities?

P.S. Can anyone agree on how to pronounce it?

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  1. Phone #s and addresses. And it's Za-GAT.

    7 Replies
    1. re: LindaWhit

      ditto. if i'm going someplace, i'll ask friends for recommendations before i pay any attention to zagat reviews.

      i feel the same way about the boston version, but it's free advertising, so restaurants don't complain. (unless they get slammed, i guess, which rarely seesm the case.)

      1. re: hotoynoodle

        Actually, I believe restaurants pay a fee to appear in the guide, maybe about $300?

        1. re: Cecilbee

          Having worked in 4 restaurants that were included in the guide (and having either been responsible for marketing and/or done the books), I can solemnly swear that absolutely NO MONEY (or anything else for that matter) was exchanged for our mention in Zagat.

          1. re: Cecilbee

            This allegation was outrageous enough to get me to phone Zagat long-distance in NY. The operator who answered sait it is totally untrue. I didn't speak to anyone higher up.

            1. re: Brian S

              Sorry for the misinformation. A restaurant owner told me that after declining to buy the Zagat plaque that restaurants sometimes display, the restaurant was removed from the guide. This could be totally false, and I make no representations that I know how Zagat's works. I was just relaying what I was told by the owner. I do know the restaurant once appeared in the guide in prior years, and indeed no longer appeared after the story was told to me.

              1. re: Cecilbee

                Those plaques are produced and sold by a company unaffiliated with Zagat. I believe the reason that restaurants get dropped is too few votes cast. It wouldn't surprise me to learn they use sleazy sales tactics like veiled threats.

                There was a mini-scandal a couple of years back at a Boylston Street (Boston) place called Typhoon, in which it had a Zagat-logoed plaque produced with doctored favorable quotes and inflated ratings. I forget who called them on it, but it made local news for a couple of days.

        2. re: LindaWhit

          It's my understanding re: the pronounciation is that it's not Za-GAT although I thought it was and pronounced it that way for a long time.

          Someone I know who knows Tim and Nina Zagat advised me they pronounce their last name with the emphasis on the first syllable ZAGat. The second syllable "at" sounds like the word "at" but somewhere between "it" and "et". I would say it for you if Chowhound had audio. I still have to correct myself sometimes.

        3. I don't think the numbers are THAT far off. Just take it in segments- a 23-30 is going to be pretty good for the most part. A 16-22 will be fair to good and a 10-16 will be poor to fair. Below 10 I'm usually in agreement to stay away. It's just a jumping off point, not the end all and be all. Generally your local reviewers are better than any of the national guides anyways.

          1. I'm not sure about the numbers, but the comments in the NJ section (of the TriState Guide) seem overly ecstatic. C'mon. Not every mid price restaurant in the state can be THAT wonderful...

            That' said- if you take it with a grain of salt, you can get the gist of how a place is.

            1. Well then it is good for something. It does make a good starting point. Maybe they don't have the best reviews, but they do give a general idea of a restaurant.

              I've used both the Washington D.C./Baltimore and the TriState (NJ) books.

              I for one can't believe that every expensive restaurant in NYC and D.C. is THAT wonderful

              1. The Zagat guides are based on surveys, so they're mostly a popularity contest, like readers' polls in weekly newspapers. Not very useful for much other than identifying the usual suspects.