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Restaurant Ratings Uncovered

7th Sep 2010

When you are searching for a rating systems for a restaurant you would certainly expect them to be unbiased, authoritative and standardised.  However any rating system is bound to court controversy at some stage or another for its methodology in rating others labour.  To clear the muddied waters we reveal how the most well-known ratings are compiled and the fundamental differences between them all:

Michelin Guide is probably the best known rating system and operates on the principle that only reviews by anonymous, professionally trained experts can be trusted for accurate assessment.  Restaurants are reviewed regularly to remain current and rated in stars from one to three.  Restaurants are not permitted to display their stars and have strict criteria in how the property can promote its elevated status. Restaurants are not bookable online via the Michelin website.

AA Guides are a widely used rating system and restaurants are encouraged to promote their achieved status.  Inspectors are announced and restaurants pay to go in the guides.  When areas of concern are uncovered the AA offer consultancy training and advice.  Guides are sold in book format and ratings are scaled by rosettes from one to five. Viewing entries online is possible via the website but online booking is not currently available.

Zagat Guide was a concept originating in the States and started as an online guide as a way to collect and correlate the restaurants by diners shared opinions on mass.  Ratings are on a numerical point scale from 1 – 30.  Guides are then sold in book form, for mobile devices and by web subscription. Restaurants featured are bookable online where possible.

Good Food Guide is an annual guide-book published by Which? Books.  The guide recruits volunteers to undertake anonymous visits to access restaurants.  There is no advertising or sponsorship and no fees are accepted.  The guide also encourages readers to submit reviews which are then considered for inclusion in next year’s guide.  The best contributors are put forward to become future restaurant inspectors. Restaurants are not bookable online as this is very much a printed guide book.

Hardens Guide is an annual guide similar in nature to the Zagat Guide in using reader surveys for their ratings as well as the personal visits of brothers, Richard and Peter Harden.  The guides cover London and the UK only and is available in book format.  Visits by the brothers are anonymous (if they can still go unrecognised) and at their own expense.

Restaurant ratings impact can mean success or failure for an establishment and has significantly aided pushing standards up in the industry as well as chefs stress levels! Restaurants are not bookable online as this is very much a printed book format.

Design Restaurants compiles its entries from respected reviewers, qualified restaurant inspectors, shared general public opinions and following the careers of respected and up and coming chefs in sourcing its data.  At present there is no printed directory but online use is complimentary for all and where possible bookings can be made online.  Accordingly there is no charge for listing, ensuring diners receive both an unbiased and comprehensive account on where to dine.  Revenues are made from annual club subscriptions of followers wishing for additional privileges, added value and insider knowledge in quality establishments who seek to publicise only to discerning food followers.

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