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Restaurant reviews reliable??

Edinburgh, United...
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Restaurant reviews reliable??

I have used Tripadvisor for many holidays but tend to just glance in to the Edinburgh forum as I live here. The last few times I have looked at the restaurant reviews I have been surprised by the top ten restaurants and the 5 star reviews they have been getting. I haven't been to them all but the ones I have been to don't seem like 5* places to me. Some of them are good value and serve nice food and I would recommend to some one wanting somewhere cheap and relaxed but 5* to me suggests something special. Some of the others I don't even think are the best " value" restaurants in Edinburgh and am stumped as to how they have hundreds of 5 * reviews? Some of the reviews themselves don't even rave about the place, one said you don't get a lot for your money, then gave the place 5*s?? Some of the reviews are from posters who have only one review but others look more genuine. Anyone else disagree with Edinburgh's top restauramts?

Edinburgh, Scotland
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41. Re: Restaurant reviews reliable??

If your experience is anything like mine a couple of weeks ago, you will be barely through the door at Kismot before the front-of-house lead - I think his name is Akbar - asks you to write a review on TripAdvisor. It's obvious that the good reviews bring them a lot of trade, and the reviews seem to me to be fair descriptions of real customers' encounters. I wish more of the restaurants we visit were like Kismot - genuinely trying hard to offer their customers a great experience.

Akbar sets the tone for the place - he's physically quite big, and his character is obviously even larger. As mikscotty says, a good restaurant meal is in many ways a performance, and Akbar puts on a good show! His diners consistently leave not only satisfied, but willing to tell the world that they are.

A restaurant has to be very confident that it can live up to the billing it gives itself - its menu - if it asks all comers to review it on TA. If it doesn't deliver, the world is going to know. But it's a strategy that is obviously working for some. The Water of Leith Cafe-Bistro has a huge TA sign in its front window, for example. I haven't yet contributed a review but that, too, was a good experience. It's another small family-owned business that offered a genuine welcome, good cooking and fair prices. The TA top ten for Edinburgh has recently featured a number of cake shops and I suspect the reason is exactly the same.

Surely it is very positive that some restaurateurs are actively encouraging their customers to offer their feedback through TA, and equally positive that good reviews here lead to more trade for them as a result of recommendations.

But I do have reservations about the way that TA turns the individual guest ratings into a global "stars" figure and a league table. That system seems to place overdue weight on a sudden spate of good ratings, which propels restaurants that encourage reviews straight to the top of the list, ahead of longer-established places that aren't aggressively seeking reviews but are just as good at what they do.

And that only leads me back to the key points that have already been made repeatedly in this thread - that the league table is no more than an outline indicator of whether an individual establishment is (much) better or worse than average, and that the important thing is to read the reviews and learn from them whether the restaurant/hotel/attraction you are reading about is likely to provide the experience you are looking for.

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42. Re: Restaurant reviews reliable??

"As mikscotty says, a good restaurant meal is in many ways a performance"

Not me, I don't got to a restaurant for a "performance"

Edinburgh, Scotland
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43. Re: Restaurant reviews reliable??

Apologies, mik - I thought you were the one who was making that parallel. I'm unsure who it was in that case, but I do think it's a reasonable metaphor for the situation where you are going out to enjoy a meal, as opposed to simply needing food for sustenance.

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44. Re: Restaurant reviews reliable??

Not to worry in was in fact "Member_Edinburgh" who likened dining out to a performance.

I don't see it myself.

Loch Lomond
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45. Re: Restaurant reviews reliable??

I went to Jamie's Kitchen in Glasgow. The "performance" of the staff there was great as was the ambiance. The food however was very poor (not even of the standard of my little local Italian). I wrote my critical review based on the food as that was what I went there for.

Edinburgh, United...
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46. Re: Restaurant reviews reliable??

By "performance" I mean that a restaurant is only as good as the last meal you had there. Sometimes restaurants are on song; sometimes they have an off night. This is different from a supermarket meal, say, which you expect to be identical every time.

The issue is whether the previous subjective views of TA readers can predict _our_ subjective view should we decide to go that restaurant or hotel. From comments in this very interesting thread, I pick out three lines of thought:

1. Tripadvisor are not managing the review system properly. Too many false and misleading reviews are getting through, which undermines the whole system. Not surprisingly establishments at the end of negative reviews think this - see the Telegraph article linked earlier. A fair number of TA users also think Tripadvisor could do a better job.

2. TA reviews are useless exactly because they are subjective. I don't have the same tastes as most reviewers.

3. TA reviews are useful up to a point, but it is up to the readers to be selective how they use them

I disagree with (1) because most reviews are genuine opinions of real customers. They are what they are. While a string of damning reviews can be unfair on borderline acceptable establishments, they can also act as a catalyst to improve. I somewhat agree with (2), but then that applies to any opinion and, again, the reviews are what they are. I agree with (3).

On the whole I give TripAdvisor the benefit of the doubt as I think people can be unrealistic in their expectations of what reviews can tell us. Unfortunately it's in Tripadvisor's commercial interest to imply, incorrectly, that its reviews are the only opinion you need.

Edinburgh, United...
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47. Re: Restaurant reviews reliable??

Alex, Interesting point about Jamies in Glasgow. It's fair to say TA reviews for the restaurant are mixed. But reading the dozen or so most recent reviews, I would pick up "Buzzing atmosphere; so-so food", which seems to match your take. I might decide to go there or go somewhere else, depending on my mood for the evening.

Loch Lomond
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48. Re: Restaurant reviews reliable??

Let us know how you get on.

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49. Re: Restaurant reviews reliable??

Not that I have read any reviews for Jamie's place but a number of friends have been and have all described the food as disappointing, although some of them enjoyed the atmosphere.

Based on their comments I shall not be visiting as their are plenty of good Italian places to visit in Glasgow.

A question I asked elsewhere and I would ask again, why do TA have "Reviews you can trust" at the top of the reviews section?

What do they base this on?

Loch Lomond
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50. Re: Restaurant reviews reliable??

They recently removed "reviews you can trust" from the hotels. I think it will soon be gone from the restaurants too because clearly they are not fully trustworthy.

TA is a commercial business and this is an advert. Websites are now included in complaints to the ASA. Probably all it would take would be a complaint and they would have to remove it because there is no way that they can demonstrate that these reviews are trustworthy.