Restaurant Reviews

Anonymous online user reviews are very much in the news right now, with some hoteliers suing a certain gigantic website for their lack of oversight.  The innkeepers argue that any old soul can log on and give their establishment a smackdown without any evidence that they’d ever been near the place and that there was no mechanism for them to answer the criticisms.
You may have your own gripes with anonymous online reviews.  How many times have you seen obviously PR-generated ‘reviews’ something like this:

‘We were delighted to see the attractive restaurant is very convenient for shopping and the rail stations with safe and well-lit parking.  The menu had so many wonderful choices from pasta and salad to fish, meat and vegetarian specials that we didn’t know where to begin.  Blah blah…’

Or like this:

‘Waiters rude, hated the food, WARNING Stay away’

You kind of wonder about the story behind that little rant.
On toptable we do it differently.  If you’re already a toptable diner, you’re aware that only members who have booked through toptable and dined at a restaurant – yes we check – are able to rate and review restaurants on the toptable site.  That’s an incredibly useful thing to know, that diner reviews can be trusted.  And we encourage all our diners to take a moment and rate their experience by giving you all top reward points to trade in for free meals.
We let other users know whether you’re a Nibbler (1 review) who may be new to toptable, a Grazer (2 reviews) or a Diner (3 reviews) who’s getting the hang of it, a Foodie (4 – 14 reviews) or a Gourmet (15 – 25 reviews) who has lots of recent dining out experience, or the top notch Gastronaut (26 reviews or more) for whom dining out is a necessity or a passion or both.
And if you like a particular review or if you wonder why a review of a restaurant was so different from others or if you just like the ‘voice’ of the reviewer, you can click on their link and arrive at a page that lists all their reviews.
The result is a toptable online community of experienced diners and reviewers who let each other know what to try, what to look out for and sometimes what to avoid.  And because it’s not as anonymous as some other sites, we find that reviews are generally less extreme and more considered than you might find elsewhere.

Gordon Ramsay at Claridges

Like this one from Gastronaut FM who gave the gorgeous Gordon Ramsay at Claridges 9.7 out of 10 and had a couple of tips for other diners:

‘Taking advantage of the lunchtime prix fixe bargain, we were delighted by Gordon Ramsey at Claridges. The staff have all been to charm school and are lovely; the short menu offered interesting, complex and seasonal dishes eliciting murmurs of appreciation all round; and the Ipad wine list was the object of much fascination – though the sommelier was more useful. We would love to return and indulge in the hideously expensive carte – and I expect we will. (ps: visit the loos: they’re stunning!)’

Some of you just cut to the chase, like Gourmet Philip Haggar on The Cinnamon Club 8.8/10:

‘Fantastic food. Wonderful lunch.’  Any questions?

Some of you take your moment in the spotlight to brag a bit, as Gastronaut poonperm paitayawat did quite rightly when he gave three Michelin starred Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester 10 out of 10:

‘I lost count how many times I have been to Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester. The food is just brilliant and so is the service and ambiance. The new Autumn menu is on now and I had the best venison in my life! Pear variation for dessert is amazing too. The vanilla foam looks just like crystal on the plate!!’

Gidleigh Park

Some of you have culinary epiphanies right there on the page, like Nibbler LR when she visited Gidleigh Park (10/10) last November:

‘I have eaten some great meals over the years but my recent lunch [table d’hote] 3 courses at GIDLEIGH PARK CHAGFORD was probably the best ever .From the first glimpse of the hotel, through impeccable service to food which was totally sublime. Taste sensations, the canapes, complimentary soup, as amazing as the rest-presented so beautifully and with such quiet pleasant service. I didn’t know how a michelin 2 star could justify itself .How could it be so different? I do now. Can’t wait to return.’

Some of you like to let us in on your lives a bit, and we really enjoy reading more personal entries like these:
Gastronaut FM on Racine 8.5/10:

‘First we were 4, then 6, then 4, then 2 of our number arrived late to dinner at Racine – who could not have been more accommodating over the confusion. Delicious and classic French informal food was generously served – just as well, as we were starving…’

Nibbler PT had a nice meal at Gauthier Soho 9.7/10:

‘Went for dinner here on first date – food was wonderful, and service even better. Nice ambience and was impressive enough for me to be able to have a second date next week!’

Piccolo Mondo

Glad to be of service, PT.  Who knows, maybe you’ll end up like this chap at top-rated Piccolo Mondo in Glasgow 10/10 as reported by Foodie CS:

‘Once again first class food and service I can not fault this restaurant and to top it off the guy at the next table got down on one knee and proposed to his girl.’

Diner reviews are the heart of toptable.  The restaurants talk to us, we talk to you through the website and on the phone and you respond with your dining experience.  When you post your reviews on the site so other diners can gain from your knowledge, it kind of squares the circle and everyone benefits.  We like that idea:  toptable – a community of savvy diners.