Restaurant review sites have long been plagued by polarized opinions – most of the people that take the time to write something have either loved a place or hated it. These sites also have to deal with reviewers who share their opinions, regardless of if they’ve ever visited the restaurant in question. Today OpenTable, the web-enabled restaurant reservation manager, has introduced a new set of restaurant rankings that they hope will skirt most of these issues.
The new rankings, called “Diners’ Choice”, are based off of surveys that OpenTable distributes through email to recent diners. OpenTable says that visitors to their site tend to take a certain amount of pride in food, which will motivate them to complete the reviews, even when they might not feel particularly strongly about a restaurant.
While this assertion is debatable, OpenTable does offer something that is unique to the review space: confirmation that every review came from someone who actually dined at the restaurant. This is made possible by OpenTable’s unique reservation system, which can monitor which patrons have actually been seated.
Unfortunately, OpenTable is currently only displaying the results of these reviews as ranked lists – there is no way to see what each individual reviewer had to say (only the restaurants themselves receive this data). This is surprising given the site’s purportedly increased accuracy, and it may lead many readers to turn to more thorough review sites like Yelp instead.