Friday, June 13, 2008

The French Laundry is Best Overall...

...OpenTable Diners' ChoiceTM Restaurant

This thought popped into my head when I looked at my home page on Opentable this morning, and noticed that, as voted by San Francisco OpenTable diners, The French Laundry is Best Overall Restaurant.

Now, let's think about this for a minute, shall we?

We know from Opentable's blurb about their Diners' ChoiceTM Lists, that what makes them unique is the following:

Qualified - Only those with a seated reservation can submit feedback.
Unbiased - The large volume of responses means that ratings are not skewed by extremes.

We also know, from this special page that The French Laundry has all to itself on Opentable, the exact number of tables available online via their reservation system. At dinner time the answer is 1/16 which translates to a meager 6.25%. [I hope I got my math right, please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.]

My conclusion is that the maximum percentage of The French Laundry's guests that can vote is 6.25%. Factor in other elements like the fact that not everyone votes in these kinds of things, and that we are talking about the percentage of tables not actual people and the feedback rate must be considerably less representative than you might first imagine.

I am a fan of Opentable and I actually really appreciate the new opportunity to give post-dining feedback. I have never eaten at The French Laundry (but I would like to, one day). However, having The French Laundry as best overall restaurant in their OpenTable Diners' ChoiceTM Lists just seems skewed to me.

QUESTION OF THE DAY graphic copyright sam breach
?If Opentable only has a limited number of reservations in a given restaurant, should they leave them off their OpenTable Diners' ChoiceTM Lists?

On the other hand, does anyone really give a ****? Probably not. Ok, I'll shut up now.

© 2008 Sam Breach
The French Laundry is Best Overall...


  • At 13/6/08 09:28, Blogger stephfour said…

    I suspect that many of these diner reviews will be more than a little skewed for a while. I took my visiting family to a restaurant near their hotel a couple of weeks ago and made my reservation with Open Table. I was sent a link to review the restaurant and completed it. It was a perfectly fine little Italian restaurant. Not a top shelf place but a nice place with really nice homemade pasta dishes. However because there are so few reviews, it looks like it's a rockin' place. Ah well.

  • At 13/6/08 21:40, Anonymous cedichou said…

    I don't think there's anything inherently wrong with this. Of course the sample is smaller if they put one table out of sixteen on opentable (which is how I understand your 1/16, I don't know FL's seating policy). But over 300 nights a year, they can get a sample with some statistical value. The confidence interval would be wider than for a sample drawn from 1500 dinner-nights, but it would still be meaningful.

  • At 13/6/08 22:07, Anonymous cedichou said…

    FWIW, for a poll with 100 yes-no answers, the margin of error is about 10%. For 50 people, it's 14%.

  • At 14/6/08 08:49, Blogger Zoomie said…

    The math is beyond me but I also think with a restaurant as acclaimed as the French Laundry there's a natural tendency to praise it to the skies if only because you paid such a huge amount of money to go and don't want to look foolish... I haven't eaten there yet, either, so this isn't a knock on the FL, just a bit about how people can unconsciously skew the math...

  • At 14/6/08 13:11, Blogger wheresmymind said…

    I so would love to go to the French Laundry one day :)

  • At 15/6/08 08:26, Blogger Zoomie said…

    I'm sending a blog award to you today on my site, "You Make My Day." Hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoy your blog!


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