I recently got a review copy of the Zomato Connoisseur’s Guide to eating out in Bangalore, 2013 edition. I have occasionally used Zomato to check out restaurant reviews (altough Burrp comes up first in most online searches and I haven’t yet been able to spot a marked difference between the two).
What I liked
Compared to the Kingfisher Good Food Guide – which is the only other food guide I have read – in this one, the reviews are written by Zomato members – who are regularly active on the website, classified as Super Foodies or Connoisseur. So I am happy to know that the reviews are by real foodies – as opposed to professional food writers or reviewers who might have an agenda.
There is a lot of useful information like: whether you need a reservation, whether there is home delivery, what not to be missed and so on.
The ratings are classified as – out of 5 – good (3.1 – 3.5), very good (3.6 – 4), excellent (4.1 – 4.5) and legendary (4.6 – 5). And only restaurants that have a minimum rating of 3.1 on their website have been included here in the book. So hopefully, that means none of them is going to be disappointing. (But I didn’t find any ‘legendary’ restaurants in the book – did I miss anything:?)
The index is interesting – it is not only based on cuisine, as is usual in such guides but also on the basis of occasion – so there is: Catching up, Formal dining, Family dining and so on, which I think is useful.
What could be better
Re. the indexing, I wish I knew why some of them have been listed under certain heads. Take, for example, family dining – why are these places best for families – are there any special activities for children? is the ambiance more suited for families? Why is Mainland China under ‘Family Dining’ and not ‘Asian and Oriental’?
Also, because of this indexing – occasion + cuisine – many restaurants have appeared in two places and that seems unnecessary and somewhat annoying. E.g. The Egg Factory comes under ‘Breakfast’ and ‘Casual Dining’.
Somewhat mystifyingly, popular (or what I think are popular and good) restaurants have not found a place in the book – can immediately think of a few like Spaghetti Kitchen, On the edge, Aromas of China… And I see on the website that they have a 3.1+ rating there.
All the rest I can overlook – but what I absolutely hate about this book is the lack of any kind of editing. They do say at the beginning that they have “edited the excerpt very minimally to retain the original ‘speak and feel’ of user comments.” Sure – but at the cost of lucid, good writing?
Let me give you some examples:
“I did the task with all dedication and divinity” – divinity? really? in eating at a restaurant?
“…authentic state delicacies with zero hullaboo” – is hullaboo some new youth slang that I am unaware of?
Spelling mistakes, too many “awesomes” and “too goods” – I am not entirely sure I would trust the recommendation of someone who writes like (and perhaps is) a teenager.
Le Jardin at The Oberoi, MG Road is classified under’ Italian and European’ and the information also clearly states that the cuisine is ‘Continental, Italian’ – but the entire review is about an Indian dinner buffet that that reviewer had there – he writes about kababs and biryani. This, I think is not just poor editing – it is utter disregard for content. How could the curators / editors let such a glaring mistake seep in?
The last word
I think it is an interesting idea – having reviews written by actual foodies who are active on the Zomato website. I even like the idea of keeping user speak intact. But please, please, give some thought and time to editing in the future – sloppiness is forgivable on the internet, not in a printed book.