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What do you think of the new Restaurants section?

Original post made by Eric on Mar 21, 2007

Hi, I'm co-founder of BooRah, the company that's working with the Palo Alto Online on the new online Restaurants section that just launched. I'm starting this thread get a dialog going on the new section -- what do you think? Is the new online restaurant guide better than what was there before? Do you like being able to see what other people are saying from across the web? Do you like being able to write reviews? Any other suggestions? Post them here...

Comments (31)

Posted by Carol, a resident of Palo Verde
on Mar 21, 2007 at 5:06 pm

Looked at it earlier today and compared what it said about the restaurant I used at lunchtime today and agreed with what was said, but didn't find out where I could post a comment of my own.

FYI I started a thread on this forum sometime ago about silverware in restaurants, sometimes it is so bad that it is the cause of a "bad meal experience" and wonder what you think about that. No one posted anything but me, so maybe I am the only one who thinks that the restaurant's choice of silverware is as important as their quality of ingredients.

Posted by Danny, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 22, 2007 at 5:38 pm

I like the new restaurant system much better now. Thanks -- it's a nice feature for those of us who eat out frequently.

Posted by Mike, a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 23, 2007 at 8:00 am

No bugs to report, but I think the search interface could use some more features to be more useful. In particular, the lack of a sort-by (for ratings) and some sort of geography filter (how-many-miles-from) make it less useful than, say, the system at Sorting by number of reviews isn't helpful.

Posted by mrs_booky, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2007 at 11:16 am

I like the new restaurant feature, but would like to sort by # of stars. since the data is there, can you add this feature, not just geography?

Posted by Eric, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 23, 2007 at 12:12 pm

Thanks for the comments, feedback, and suggestions.

Carol - To write a review, click on the [See details and read reviews] link at the bottom of each restaurant summary, then click on the "Write Review" link to the right of the restaurant's ratings.

The system actually does have a sort-by-distance feature -- if you enter a specific address, an intersection ("el camino real and page mill, palo alto" for example), or a major point of interest ("Palo Alto Airport", for example) the results will be displayed sorted by distance from that specific place.

A sort-by feature to allow you to sort by ratings (or even by name) is something we have planned for the near future -- you're right, it would be helpful.

Posted by Sarah, a resident of Downtown North
on Mar 23, 2007 at 12:34 pm

I frequently dine out in Palo Alto and the surrounding areas, and the feature I miss about the new system is not being able to sort by location as well as type of food. I enjoyed the alphabetical listings by locations such as Downtown PA, California Ave, Menlo Park, Los Altos, Woodside, etc. as well as by cuisine type such as Sushi, Itlalian, etc. Those features coupled with the review system would be helpful. Thank you for asking for our suggestions!

Posted by paloaltojon, a resident of Crescent Park
on Mar 23, 2007 at 6:30 pm

I like it very much. With some frequency, we find ourselves returning to the same restaurants because we lack about alternatives and are not motivated to explore. This will help. I am putting the URL on my Bookmarks Bar.

I never post comments or reviews. I guess I feel intimidated by the idea of putting something out there for the world to see. Somehow, perhaps irrationally, this feels more comfortable, more like talking to my neighbors.

I posted a review and found it easy to do.

Thanks for doing this.

Posted by Jurgen, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 23, 2007 at 7:19 pm

The classification system is a little off. Wienerschnitzel comes up under the search for German food.

Posted by menloresident, a resident of Menlo Park
on Mar 24, 2007 at 6:53 pm

I liked the drop-drop menus with cuisine and neighborhood. The cuisine menu in particular tells me (the user) how you categorize restaraunts, since I don't know if my system and your system match or are even compatible. About the last thing I want to do, for example, is deal with multiple searches using the various possible cuisine labels that might tell me about places with a good hamburger (american, hamburger, microbrew). Or even deal with whether to search for pizza places using "pizza" as a key term or "italian." Or whether my search isn't worknig because I'm misspelling the cuisine or the neighborhood. Just adds another step; hassle; makes me less likely to get usuable results in the same amount of time.

Posted by Marie, a resident of Professorville
on Mar 25, 2007 at 12:03 am

I agree, please bring back the drop-down menus with neighborhood and cuisine type. Thanks!

Posted by nat, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 25, 2007 at 3:44 pm

I wish that the print size were incresed for the reviews.

Posted by pf chang, a resident of Barron Park
on Mar 25, 2007 at 4:03 pm

why doesn't PF Chang's in palo alto come up when i search for it?

Posted by CriticCritic, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Mar 26, 2007 at 9:43 am

Everything is rated 31/2 stars so forget about searching for some new restaurant that people think is good. If you already have a restaurant in mind then it is useful to see what people are saying about it.

Posted by PA resident, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 26, 2007 at 5:40 pm

How about an option for miles within a zip code or address. This way you could cover several cities at once. Also would like to see drop-down menus as mentioned already.

Posted by John L., a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Mar 26, 2007 at 6:15 pm

PF Chang's came up when I searched for it and showed up when I typed in "Chinese" for cuisine. By the way...I love PF Chang's!

Posted by A.J., a resident of Green Acres
on Mar 26, 2007 at 9:38 pm

I second the point about the geographical problem. Maybe it's there as was later posted, but it's not obvious when you use it that this will happen. When you input a general geographical area, the restaurants that come up are all over the place. I put in "mid-peninsula" dim sum, and the first place that came up was in Fremont. Ming's didn't even come up.

Posted by nat, a resident of Midtown
on Mar 27, 2007 at 2:40 pm

I wish, first, that the type were larger.
I wish you would also cover restaurants in Mt. View, Sunnyvale, and other nearby midpeninsula towns. It would be nice to be able to select a specific town also. All I see are Palo Alto and Menlo Park resturants.

Sometimes I want to see the menu of a particular restaurant, so a website address, if one is available, would be a helpful addition to the info about restaurant. It would even be better to have a link to the restaurant's menu were that feasible.

Posted by curious, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 6, 2007 at 6:19 pm

When I search Chinese food in palo alto it doesn't find "Green Elephant" or "Su Hong"... Are they categorized differently or are they not included?

Posted by nat, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 12, 2007 at 12:43 pm

How do I get my reviews of restaurants that I post into the reviews people get when they research a particular restaurant??

Posted by Nat, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 13, 2007 at 2:15 pm

When I post a review in Restaurants, then look up the restaurant in this new section, it isn't there. What I see is some few reviews from the Weekly and from the web. ????? Why aren't our local reviews not included? These are more useful than those taken from the web at large.

It would be nice to have a drop down menu to choose a city.
How far north and south is the "Midpeninsula," the area covered?

Posted by Foodie, a resident of Green Acres
on Apr 14, 2007 at 6:40 pm

I typed in "family restaurant" and the results were restaurants with the name "family" in them -- kind of like trying to find a "chinese restaurant" and only getting restaurants with the name "chinese" in them.

Also, I'm not finding that the geographical locations are working the way described above. It would be nice to find restaurants of a given search criterion within a geographical region, specified from one's local town. In other word's, I don't want to have to search Palo Alto, Mountain View, Los Altos, etc., separately, but Midpeninsula is too general. Let me look for restaurants within so many miles of Palo Alto and in PA, closest first.

I don't see that the new section offers improvement over the old, and the drop down menus were at least convenient

Needs some work!

Posted by Natalie, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 15, 2007 at 4:43 pm

I found out how to get my reviews included and tried one. The verification code, however, was unreadable and I did my best. My review has not shown up.

Posted by Natalie, a resident of Midtown
on Apr 16, 2007 at 1:21 pm

I have tried and tried to get my review of Le Petit Bistro included.
The verification code is difficult to read but I did my best. (Whereas the verification code here is easy to read.) However, the third time was not the charm as my review is still not included. I had clicked on "write review" and filled in all the fields. So please advise.

Also I noted that when I clicked on a particular review, for the complete comments, I couldn't find it. I was just taken to the top of all the reviews.

I suggest the reviews/comments be arranged in chronological order with the most recent on top and the oldest at the bottom.

Posted by Eric, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Apr 26, 2007 at 7:41 am

We've made a couple of changes to the new Restaurant section, based on your feedback here in this forum.

First, we found a bug that was preventing the reviews you were trying to write from getting posted -- sorry for the inconvenience; it is now fixed. We've also tried to make the verification code a bit easier to read.

Next, we added "drop down" menus with the Cuisines and with the City/Neighborhood. You can see these lists by clicking the small grey box on the right edge of the "Restaurant Name or Cuisine" and the "Neighborhood, City, Zip or Address" boxes.

We also increased the font slightly.

Keep the comments coming...

Posted by I like reviews, a resident of Crescent Park
on Apr 28, 2007 at 9:01 pm

The reviews are all positive. How can that be? The only negative words I saw were "a bit pricey". I don't get it, did I miss something or is this just advertising for restaurants?
I get the feeling this thing isn't ready for prime time and we being asked to do your testing.

Posted by Eric, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 3, 2007 at 5:31 pm

In response to "I like reviews" comment, I thought I'd link to this article Web Link
which does a pretty good job of explaining why consumers generally rate things (including restaurants here!) mostly positively. That's the effect that pretty much any site that includes consumer reviews will see.

These aren't sponsored listings from restaurants -- they are actual comments that people have made, some are even reviews from professional restaurant critics (and are identified as such). Good questions.

Posted by I like reviews, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 4, 2007 at 1:56 am

The article points out that the reviewers are self selected and are likely to be positive. Although they may also be really negative. Irritated diners may be more likely to write as well.
My point is that comments are taken out of context. So a sentence like 'the food was mediocre but the decor is really nice' will result in 'the decor is really nice.'
The same thing happens with movie reviews and reviewers complain about it. The advertisers pull out the positive phrases and put them in big type in their ads, implying that the review was all positive when it might not have been.

Posted by nat, a resident of South of Midtown
on Jul 29, 2007 at 3:55 pm

There is something wrong with the restaurant section. I put in African in MidPeninsula and got a list of:

Italian and Mexican restaurants, Togo, French - every kind of cuisine imaginable but African. What gives?

Posted by member, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Sep 19, 2007 at 10:07 pm

I vote "boo." I prefer reviews from critics instead of the masses. Yes, one of the Weekly's reviewers is full of it, but after tasting his advice I know to ignore all that he writes. I think the beauty of reading a "professional" critique is that you get to know that person's preferences and then take that into consideration.

Posted by Carol, a resident of Palo Verde
on Sep 20, 2007 at 9:36 am

I would like to say that I think this is great from my point of view.

Last week I was going to a restaurant I had not heard of with my husband and some friends. Beforehand, I checked to see some reviews as to know what to expect. The restaurant wasn't listed, so I put in a request for its listing. I checked back a couple of days later and found that it had been added. I was then able to write my own review and possibly help both the restaurant and other customers.

This is usually the way I use the section rather than looking for a particular type of food or particular type of restaurant and it works very well for me.

Posted by Arnold79, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 22, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Toolboxes are my freedom and independent of my daily hassles. ,

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