Nancy Luna, the Fast Food Maven for the Orange County Register, has breaking news for us. The Zagat guide, the culinary equivalent of the myriad of Who's Who books who get people to submit content and then convince them to pay to read what they've submitted, apparently just updated their Los Angeles-area guide for 2013! Hooray! This is exciting news to absolutely no one except Luna and the people who make money from the sale of the Zagat guide to people who don't know any better.
Luna's food timeline is once again apparently stuck in Y2K mode, as evidenced by her complete ignorance of the irrelevance of the Zagat guide. It's not just that they give Orange County short shrift--they're not a useful tool even in their hometown of New York.
"...old-school foodies still rely on the decades-old Zagat guide to glean tips on top-tier restaurants."
I assume that by "old-school foodies" Luna is talking about Herb and Doris, the two remaining people who read the Zagat guide and then make 4:30 p.m. reservations for the restaurants it recommends. No actual foodie has used the print Zagat guide since Bill Clinton left office, because most people under the age of 70 know that a once-a-year printed snapshot of restaurants is not a good indicator of changing restaurant trends. There's a reason the print edition is on sale at the counter of Barnes & Noble--it's only through impulse buys that they sell very many copies.
Also, as Luna points out, it used to cost $25 a year to look things up using Zagat online when Yelp, Chowhound, eGullet, Voice Places, the Register's own Events pages, and ten thousand food blogs were all free--and at least those sites tell you what's best to order and what's best to avoid, unlike the Zagat blurbs, which are "completely overshot" with "unnecessary quotation marks" that "don't even attempt" to provide attribution. (For the best parody of this style, check out Rotten.com's entry for Pol Pot--yes, you read that right)
"Considered the bible of restaurant-rating guides, the Google-owned survey provides restaurant scores based on food, service and décor."
No, the bible of printed restaurant rating guides is the Guide Michelin, which I have scorned at length on this blog for many of the same reasons that the Zagat print guide is completely irrelevant to the dining scene. As for ratings based on food, service and décor, that's what you have a full-time food critic for, and I'd much rather read his opinion on things than some crowd-sourced spack that tells me nothing about a place.
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"Even more mind-boggling is that chains like Wienerschnitzel and The Cheesecake Factory get print space."
Shocked! Nancy Luna is SHOCKED at this. This from a woman who has made her living for years by insisting loudly upon exclusive domain over stories about restaurants openings and closures; by covering such breaking news as new biscuits and exciting new toppings for mediocre hamburgers at Carl's Jr.; by writing breathless paeans to seemingly every single frozen yogurt and cupcake shop ever to open its doors in OC; and by faithfully parroting the most unimaginative, content-free press releases ever to be penned by a recent college grad. (We get those press releases too, Nancy.) I assume she's happy at the Zagats' validation of her recent journalistic career, because otherwise that quote above just doesn't make any sense.
Nancy, it's almost 2013. Join us in the present, would you please? The food's better in the here and now, and so is the food writing.