Zagat Releases 2006 New York City Restaurant Survey

And the Winners Are: Le Bernardin Top Food, Gramercy Tavern Most Popular, Daniel for Decor, per se Takes Best Service and Nets Highest Overall Ratings

In Best Year Since 2000, Noteworthy Openings Outpace Closings by 247 to 83; Inflation Limited to 0.4% but New York Remains Most Expensive U.S. Dining City

NEW YORK, Oct. 17 /PRNewswire/ — Zagat Survey today released its 2006 New York City Restaurants guide. The newly-minted edition contains ratings and reviews for over 2,000 restaurants based on roughly 5.4 million meals eaten by a record 30,911 Zagat surveyors across all five boroughs. In addition, the guide spotlights new trends driving the world’s finest culinary scene:

Big Winners: At the top of the charts are the “world class” Le Bernardin (Top Food for six of the last ten years) and the “magical” Gramercy Tavern (Most Popular for three of the last five years). Daniel placed first for Decor and second for Food. Most dramatically, Thomas Keller’s per se in its first full year vaulted to number three for Food and number one for Service — perhaps justifying Keller’s recent decision to add an automatic 20% gratuity to all tabs. When Food, Decor and Service scores are combined, per se nets the highest overall average of any restaurant.

Restaurant Boom: It was an exceptional year for New York food lovers with 247 noteworthy restaurant openings compared to only 83 closings — the strongest showing since before 9/11. Standing out among the newcomers are devi, The Modern, Alto, BLT Prime, Perry Street and Nobu 57. Moreover, survey participants report that they are eating out more and spending more than they did one year ago. “One of the great joys of being a food loving New Yorker is that the culinary scene is regularly being remade,” said Tim Zagat, CEO of Zagat Survey. “There’s a dynamism and creativity in New York that surpasses all of the seventy other major cities where we do surveys.”

All Corners of NYC: Dining in the outer-boroughs has continued to soar. Fifth Avenue in Park Slope houses eight impressive newcomers including Applewood, Brooklyn Fish Camp and Tempo. The number of Bronx eateries in the guide has doubled from 12 to 25, in part due to an effort by borough president Adolfo Carrion. As a result, the new guide has added such Bronx standouts as Pasquale’s Rigoletto and Jake’s Steakhouse to the list, which is headed by perennial favorite Roberto’s. Reflecting the improving quality of dining outside Manhattan, nine outer borough restaurants made it into this year’s Top 50 Food rankings.

Dollar$ and Cent$: Don’t for a moment think that New York’s culinary vitality isn’t costing somebody something. Even though meal prices only edged up a modest 0.4% in the city, the average meal price of $37.61 makes New York the most expensive restaurant city in the country. The average cost of New York’s 20 most expensive restaurants is up nearly 25% to a stratospheric $112.49, due to the addition of per se and Masa. At the other end of the spectrum, New York leads the country in terms of the number of informal, modestly priced restaurants. For the cost-conscious, the Zagat guide includes three pages listing Bargain Prix Fixe Menus and Best Buys.

French Resurgence: Despite the demise of such French classics as Lutece, La Cote Basque, Le Cirque and La Caravelle, French fare — albeit more casual and modern — has bounced back. Five of the ten Top Food are French (Le Bernardin, Daniel, Bouley, per se and Jean Georges). Following on their heels, five of the top twenty are Japanese (Sushi Yasuda, Nobu, Sushi of Gari, Masa and Tomoe Sushi).

Service: Along with food quality and cost, one of the most important issues to diners is service. In fact, 49% of respondents say that poor service is their number one irritant when dining in New York (21% cited the noise level). New York has one of the top three service deficits (defined as the difference between average food rating and average service rating) in the country at 2.21. By comparison, the national average is 1.85.

Dressing Up and Down: Where it was once de rigueur to wear a tie in New York’s finer establishments, that practice is now de rigor mortis, with only the Rainbow Room and 21 Club requiring such formality. But while diners are dressing down, Asian restaurants are dressing up — with haute design at East Side newcomer Mainland and TriBeCa’s 66 and Top Decor honors at Asiate, Kittichai, Matsuri, Megu, Spice Market and Tao.

“In this business we travel a lot, try a lot and frankly eat a lot, but there is nothing like returning home to eat in New York City’s restaurants,” said Nina Zagat, Co-Founder of Zagat Survey. “New York is simply tops for dining.”

The Book: As with all Zagat Survey guidebooks, the New York City Restaurants guide is made by consumers for consumers. In addition to Top Lists for Food, Decor, Service, and Best Buys, the guide also includes such useful categories as Child-Friendly, Sleepers, Romantic, Private Rooms, Late Dining, Gardens, Winning Wine Lists and even Cool Loos. Restaurants are also broken out by cuisine, location, and dozens of other groupings.

The 2006 New York City Restaurants guide ($13.95) was edited by Curt Gathje and Carol Diuguid and is available at bookstores, by calling (888) 371- 5440, and online at zagat.com.

On the Web: Zagat.com will be hosting a week of free access from November 1-7 sponsored by CitiCards. During the week, zagat.com ratings and reviews of over 30,000 restaurants, nightspots, hotels and attractions in 94 countries will be available free of charge. Also in this year’s guide — a promotional code allowing consumers to try a sixty-day free trial of zagat.com.

About Zagat Survey, LLC

Zagat Survey is the world’s leading provider of consumer survey-based leisure content. With more than 250,000 surveyors, Zagat Survey rates and reviews restaurants, hotels, nightlife, movies, music, golf, shopping and a range of other entertainment categories. Zagat content is available in print, on the Web, on the Palm and Pocket PC operating systems, on mobile phones, and on TV. For more information, visit http://zagat.com/.

Related Articles