How to Tell if a Restaurant is Good

In 1979 Tim Zagat and his wife Nina were eating dinner at a restaurant with friends. During their meal, the subject of conversation came around to the restaurant reviews of a major newspaper and how unreliable they were. Tim got the idea to conduct a survey of his own which eventually led to a 200 amateur critic review of 100 top restaurants for food, décor, service, and cost. They printed the results and realized immediate success with a demand for copies all over town. This eventually led to the Zagat Survey, which is now one of the most trusted indicators of a restaurant’s quality. One has but to look for a trusted Zagat sticker in the window to be assured they’ll receive a great meal for the price.

Zagat uses information provided by the general public (locals) for reviews of restaurants (and other establishments as well). Patrons go to Zagat’s website and complete surveys on exceptional restaurants they’ve patronized. These surveys are used to determine a restaurant’s quality. Zagat’s editors have the final say which ones get rated. Not every restaurant qualifies. In order to qualify, it must meet certain criteria such as being a quality establishment, satisfying a vote count threshold, and exhibiting what Zagat calls “compelling character.” Surveyors separately rank food, décor, and service on a 0-3 point scale. Zero is fair to poor, 1 is good, 2 is very good, and 3 is excellent. This information is then averaged and the qualified restaurants ranked on Zagat’s 30-point scale (0-10 poor to fair, 11-15 fair to good, 16-20 good to very good, 21-25 very good to excellent, and 26-30 extraordinary to perfection). Cost is also rated. When a survey period ends, results are calculated and user comments synthesized into abstracted reviews. They are available at and Zagat mobile apps. One has but to check Zagat to determine the exceptional quality of Benjamin Steakhouse and its excellence in food, décor, and service. Its satisfied customers have give it the highest of ratings.

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