I have a love/hate relationship with Yelp. I love the idea behind it, but I hate that I have to wade through review upon review just to find the truth between the digression, complaining and sometimes irrelevant nitpicking. Nefarious back door deals between Yelp and business owners on hiding negative reviews (for a price, of course, because this is America, damn it) have recently come to light, and when I was job hunting for writing gigs on Craigslist, look what I found:
So when I received an email from the press relations office of Taste Savant, the anti-Yelp, I was eager to chat with CEO Sonia Kapadia and find out more about her endeavor. In their words:
Taste Savant is a highly curated restaurant discovery site designed to help the savvy diner decide where to eat out. Taste Savant curates and aggregates reviews from people its users trust including friends, restaurant critics, bloggers, chefs, and other food experts. It offers reviews from people who matter for restaurants that are worth your while. Taste Savant is also a one-stop shop for users to access all restaurant info, including menus, reservations, dining deals and delivery. In addition to offering the recommendations of restaurant connoisseurs, users will also have access to reviews through social networks. Serving as platforms for trusted opinions and reviews from friends, family and more, users can connect to the site by logging in through Facebook and Twitter to see what is well-liked among their peers as well as share their own experiences.
During my chat with CEO Sonia Kapadia, I was able to find out a bit more about Taste Savant and its role in the Los Angeles restaurant community.
Born out of the frustration over Yelp-digging, Sonia was inspired to create a more curated list of New York restaurants with the focused, unbiased eye of critics, chefs, bloggers and other food experts as the source for reviews. “Yelp is great for a lot of people,” Sonia contended. “(But) there is an entirely different set of people who trust what critics say.”
Taste Savant maintains its integrity through various factors:
It’s also worth mentioned that on the rare instances when a restaurant receives consistent negative criticism, their place on Taste Savant is reevaluated.
Users want to know where chefs eat, so Taste Savant invited several chefs to take place in the Chef Relations Program – a title that sounds a bit more involved than it actually is. In truth, chefs let users know where they like to go and grab a bite or a drink through their own tailored “Top Restaurants” lists. Members include Adam Fleischman of Umami & Dakota Weiss of the W Hotel.
450 restaurants throughout Los Angeles can expect to be featured on Taste Savant, from the cream of the crop down to the hole-in-the-walls ~ however, as it is a curated list, expect to only find the known hole-in-the-walls. Think your neighborhood joint is the bees knees and needs to be on the site? “We take recommendations all of the time from users,” Sonia insists. “We respect the requests.”
The response Taste Savant has received in New York City has been overwhelmingly positive.
“No one is taking this curated approach and aggregating the source,” Sonia informs me proudly. “As a result, people really enjoy our product. 40% are return visitors.”
Speaking purely from a Los Angeleno point of view, I discussed very candidly about our constant need To Plan for every little outing in our life. Most of us – commuters and public transit users alike – have to take in so many factors when we go out to eat. Traffic and time are at the top of most of our lists. For myself, I try never to pay for what I can cook at home – so I want to know that wherever I’m going, it’s going to be worth my money. Having Taste Savant to assist me in making sure I’m picking the best bang for my buck is an endeavor I welcome with open arms.