OpenTable lists their Top Ten Oregon Restaurants for 2008
These are Open Table’s top ten Oregon restaurants, as voted by users of the reservation system.
- Pine Tavern – Bend
- Amuse – Ashland
- Deep – Bend
- The Melting Pot
- Masu Sushi
This is an interesting list, especially the order in which they appear. It seems to me, by publishing a ranking like this, Opentable is risking the wrath of the very restaurants that use their system. 23Hoyt ranked below Oba? Lucier ranked below Merriwether’s? This is precisely the reason online voting doesn’t work for things like this.
As a long time user of Open Table, I am not aware that there was an on-line vote for this. It must simply be a ‘most booked’ ranking. I just ate at The Union Sq Cafe in NYC and booked it on-line in the cab from JFK… on the trip back to the airport I got an email asking specifically for my feedback on the culinary experience which was a first for me. I book 23 Hoyt and Clarklewis a lot on Open Table and they have never asked me for feedback like that.
Food Dude says
They have asked me, but I use them quite a bit, with multiple accounts. Those online rewards add up!
ok, I just did my research and have concluded that their system is so new that it really shouldn’t count…. I wonder how many responses they’ve got so far?
This isn’t online voting though, OT is inviting people to rate their experience after they have made a reservation and dined at the restaurant. And even then, I don’t think everyone gets invited to complete their survey every time or certainly that’s how it was put across when they originally floated the idea.
I do agree publishing a ranking rather than just making the feedback available on the individual restaurant page could be an interesting move though.
These surveys are so easy to stack – not by Open Table (at least not consciously), but I notice that the company says it gets 200,000 survey responses per month. That’s more than 6,000 per day, if it’s true, and they’d need a team of Willy Wonka squirrels to break down that data into any meaningful form.
WHen I worked at magazines that did reader surveys, it was painfully apparent that some enterprises worked very hard to stack the deck. A hotel coffee shop would get higher marks than a four-star restaurant; all the raves for an establishment would come with similar wording and identical postage stamps, etc. It’s got to be even easier to game the system with online voting. (The Melting Pot?)
I also notice that on the front page of the site there are 22 featured cities, all of which must be larger than the Portland dining market, as it isn’t even listed (Houston, Dallas, and Minneapolis/St. Paul are all there). So I wonder how many responses Open Table gets from the Portland market in general. If it’s a dozen a day, all a restaurant needs is 3 or 4 raves and it’s in.
Food Dude says
All it would take is a restaurant quietly slipping a thank you note into the check for those who had reserved by Open Table, reminding them to vote. I haven’t come across that, but then I guess I haven’t eaten at many of the best restaurants in Portland!
The list doesn’t mean anything. It has only restaurants on it that use Open Table. That leaves out many of the best restaurants on town. Pay no attention to it.
Jason Wax says
Just for perspective, I heard from a friend down in San Francisco that Open Table has The French Laundry listed as the most popular (or something similar) restaurant in San Francisco. Never mind the fact that it’s in Yountville. And never mind the fact that TFL only takes a miniscule number of reservations via Open Table.
Anyway, I don’t think the restaurants are necessarily stacking these fake survey results; I think Open Table is just doing something screwy.
The lesson here:
If you want to come out on top, serve people baskets of donut holes with a big pot of honey butter to slather on, and then call ’em “scones” so nobody feels guilty!
Funny – – with all this uproar, the only thing that sticks out for me is THE MELTING POT. So people actually go there??? Booking online in droves??? We had one in Florida that I went to as a kid with the family, but I never pegged it for the kind of place Portlanders would book on Open Table.
Also, re: Jason Wax’s post & TFL – Open Table is regarded by my foodie friends as the *only* way to book TFL, since perpetual rejection by telephone until you get lucky can be so disheartening. It’s how we booked when we went, and we were seated at a fantastic window table in the upstairs, on a night when Thomas Keller himself was working the pass.
I guess my overall reaction to “the list” is – – who cares? So long as it gets framed in the proper context by any media outlets who use the information. In general, people are pretty savvy. After all, if everyone jumps off a bridge, that doesn’t mean you should, too…
After reading these posts I grew curious about “Open Table”. A quick look at their site informed me that Bend is a neighborhood in Portland! Do I trust these guys?
Maybe the chef was replaced by someone off the street the night we were there. The meals of our group were horrible. Too much trying to be cute with the ingredients by the chef.
Food Dude says
Merriwether’s has gone way downhill. Lots of the staff has left, including the chef.
I’m lead to believe that the “survey” was actually sponsored by Citysearch – just kidding, of course. Everyone have a safe 4th!
Catherine Cole says
I’ve never used Open Table, and have no plans to. I’ve known people who’ve used it for big groups–and fine–I guess it serves its purpose there, but I’d much rather just call the restaurant. I think it’s pretty pointless, as is their “top” restaurant list.
Pointless? I don’t know about that. I can make or change a res 24/7. I find it very useful. And after 20 kept reservations, I get $20 gift cert.
Reason places in Bend are included in “Portland” is not ignorance. It’s simply due to the fact that Bend on its own has only a couple places on OT, so they can’t rate their own page. It’s no reason not to “trust” them. And why is that so important if all you’re doing is making a res?
I ignore all ranking systems be they Zagat, Citysearch, Trip Advisor for restaurants, and OT.
I use Open Table every opportunity I can. It works and it is more reliable for reservations than the telephone (especially the phone at McCormick and Schmick’s). I would not rely on its restaurant ratings, however; the number of restuarants rated is too small right now.
Hey Food Dude…if you don’t frequent OT’s top list, how do you know they are not deserving of their “title”???
You even mentioned one restaurant as going downhill. When was the last time you actually dined there?
The OT list just may be somewhat real and not so damned incestuous…
Just a thought.
Food Dude says
I may not frequent some, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been to them. At one time or another, I’ve been to seven of the restaurants on the list, the latest being Merriwether’s about 3 weeks ago.
Remember never to get caught up in a little BS (not worth it). You shouldn’t feel the need to respond to BS (big or small).