Ever since I was old enough to take the subway into Manhattan from my parents’ home in Queens, N.Y., and I began to discover the culinary wonders the world has to offer, I’ve been passionate about dining. What started out as a search for, say, the best hamburger or the most succulent Chinese dumplings evolved over time into a full-blown love affair that now takes me all over the United States and Europe to eat at some of the world’s greatest restaurants. In the course of my culinary odyssey, I’ve developed many friendships with people who share my passion. Invariably, our discussions would turn to the subject of dining guides—the qualities that make them useful and the flaws that render them less so. The Opinionated About Surveys are the result of those discussions, and an attempt to correct the flaws we identified. One of the targets of our criticisms was the failure of many guides to calibrate ratings between different geographic locations, with the result that restaurants in cities not known for fine dining often receive higher ratings than important restaurants in New York or Paris. Another is a reluctance to demote once great restaurants even after years of poor performance. But what we objected to the most was the general lack of transparency regarding the identity and qualifications of reviewers. It seemed clear to us that in many cases reviewers in one location were less qualified than reviewers elsewhere. I made it my goal to create a guide that would avoid these pitfalls and that my fellow passionate diners would find more useful than anything available in bookstores today.
The key to producing this new, improved dining guide lay in my ability to gather information from those whom my friends and I affectionately describe as “Destination Diners.” These are people who, like us, travel for the purpose of eating in the world’s best restaurants. I began working on a methodology that would allow me to capture and compile this information, while giving more or less weight to the opinions of diners based on the number and geographical diversity of the restaurants they had visited. This past January, I started collecting data from these diners in an online survey. The "Top 50 Most Recommended Restaurants" is the result of those efforts. Please click on the link to get your free downloadable copy of the survey.
While participation in this version of the survey was limited to friends of the Opinionated About Dining blog and discussion forums, those who are interested in participating in the next version of the survey, which will be launched around August 1 with the results intended for publication this fall, can inform us of their interest when requesting their copy of the download by checking the box about future surveys. And coming this fall, OA will launch surveys featuring moderate and inexpensive dining destinations in both North America and Europe.
To get your copy of the survey, please click on the link at the top or bottom of the page and fill out the short information form. I hope you enjoy the Opinionated About Dining Top 50 Most Recommended and good eating!