Online restaurant guides

Deciding where to eat on Friday night? Check out a restaurant guide website.
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  • Updated:29 Sep 2008

02.What makes a good guide?

First and foremost, information should be up-to-date and accurate. For this, most online restaurant guides rely on restaurants to manage their own listings, and for diners to alert the site manager to out-of-date information. Lists of recently opened eateries are also useful.

Other desirable features include:

  • Comprehensive coverage of restaurants and cafés.
  • Useful information Address, phone number, website link, cuisine, opening hours, BYO/licensing information, number of seats (to give you an idea of how big the restaurant is), an indication of prices (such as a range for main meal prices). High-end restaurants might include also the name of the chef.
  • Menus are very useful if they’re up-to-date. A link to the restaurant’s own website, complete with menu, is an alternative (and chances are it will be more up-to-date).
  • Nearby restaurants, cafés and bars Some sites suggest these, which is great if you want to know where to go for drinks before dinner or for coffee and dessert.
  • Reviews They should include the day, date and meal type (breakfast, lunch, dinner) of the visit, as well as the date the review was posted. Reviews of traditionally busy nights (Friday or Saturday, Valentine’s Day) versus quieter nights can give different impressions of service.
  • Phone info Some sites offer to send details to your mobile phone, which saves you writing it down, and you can forward info to friends.
  • Versatility when searching You might want to find a particular cuisine, or a selection of restaurants in a particular suburb (including surrounding suburbs). You might be after a particular ambience (lively, romantic) or fancy water views or outside dining. Many sites offer most or all of these search options.
  • Independence Most online restaurant guides allow restaurants to list with them free of charge. Revenue for the websites comes from restaurants seeking priority placements and advertising (usually ads are not for restaurants). Does paying to be featured get you a better review? We didn’t necessarily find that to be true — featured restaurants tended to have mixed reviews as often as any other restaurant. The exception is websites that mostly give positive reviews anyway.

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