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Trip Advisor's Weird MCR Top 20

How many have you heard of?

Written by . Published on August 27th 2014.

Trip Advisor's Weird MCR Top 20

FOUR out of twenty.

That is the average number of restaurants in TripAdvisor’s top twenty ‘Best Manchester Restaurants’ (listed at the bottom) that Confidential employees have even heard of. Even Gordo, Confidential publisher and Manchester glutton for five decades, has only heard of four.

The key then to TripAdvisor is how we use it. This involves developing an innate drivel sieve, the ability to spot a moron from 45cm to 75cm.

For a publication that's been critiquing the region's food and drink for over a decade, that seems a bit off doesn’t it?

We published a similarly perculiar list back in early 2013 and found the whole thing baffling.

Maybe it's us. Perhaps we've become so blinded by seven hour, eighteen-course TV chef taster menus that we can no longer see the 'smaller guys' and the provincials for our own big, fat, triple chins.

The Castlefield Rooms: number one?The Castlefield Rooms: MCR's number one according to TripAdvisor and it isn't even a restaurant?

So we asked a bunch of pals in and out of the industry: chefs, owners, proprietors, councillors, property developers, hotel managers, marketers, web-designers and a couple of DJs what their favourite Greater Manchester restaurants were. They said:

Trip Advisor ranking is in brackets.

Manchester House (#50), SMOAK (#422), Almost Famous (#277), Room (#264), The French (#44), Salvi’s Deli (#19), Evuna (#39), Australasia (#35), Yuzu (#193), Sam's Chop House (#160), San Carlo Cicchetti (#201), Umeushi (#42), Grill on the Alley (#102), Mr Cooper’s (#151), Greens (#129), Akbar's (#161) and Aumbry (#3 in Prestwich, trumped by the Istanbul and the Bombay).

Not one of that esteemed lot makes Trip Advisor's top twenty list below. Some would say that's democracy, consumer power in action.

In which case we'd ask you, regular consumers and food-informed Confidential readers to think of your favourite restaurant in Greater Manchester. Actually think of your top three, five, ten. How many of your favourites make the list at the bottom of this piece?

Nah didn't think so. So what's going on?

Aumbry in Prestwich was popular in our snap pollAumbry in Prestwich was popular in our snap poll

Of course, the principal issue is one of faux-reviewers, usually owners, staff, family or PR-types pushing the restaurant and flooding the site with positive comments. In fairness to TripAdvisor the site does monitor the IP address (your computer's identity) of each reviewer to combat fakes, but this security measure is easily bypassed - there's even a site that instructs you how to do it.

The problem has become so rife in Italy that the Italian Competition Authority launched an investigation earlier this year to establish whether TripAdvisor had 'sufficient measures in place to detect reviews made by people who had not visited the place'.

In a widely publicized case last year, a miffed businessman who wanted to expose Trip Advisor's flaws created a fake restaurant, built in the hull of an old fishing boat in Devon with 'mind-blowing' Michelin-starred food 'bordering on sorcery', and filled the page with beaming reviews. Bookings flew in and the non-existent restaurant crept its way to number 26 in the rankings.

TripAdvisor, red-faced, removed the site three months later when punters found an empty alleyway.

Non-existent Oscar's lead punters up an alley in Brixham, DevonThe non-existent restaurant lead punters up an alley in Brixham, Devon

Some estimates suggest that 10% to 20% of all Trip Advisor reviews are fake, with over 170 million reviews on the site that's a whole load of codswallop.

Still, to operators, faux-reviewers are not the only concern. There's also the nutjobs.

"The problem with TripAdvisor," says a marketing bod of a leading Manchester restaurant group that wants to remain nameless in case the trolls rain down on their TripAdvisor pages like hellfire.

"Most of the people that use it regularly are either irate out-of-towners quick to scratch out your eyes or gushing locals who eat at the place round the corner seven times a week.

"Because of that it's not a true or well-rounded representation of the city's restaurant culture," the Marketing-bod continued. "It's also completely unpoliceable. If you don't reply the negativity builds up, if you do reply you look petty. TripAdvisor claim there's a defamatory content procedure but it's useless. We've stopped bothering with it."

"Then my FORK was WARM"

This marketing-bod raises an interesting point about faceless and 'unpoliceable' internet posters, or 'trolls' (something Confidential knows all too well though our 'rant' function) - it's something Telegraph journalist Alex Proud highlights as the 'online disinhibition effect' (ODE).

The problem for restaurants is that they're not awarded the same luxury, and can quickly find themselves under a hail of negative reviews from a large party of punters, unhappy because a sharp chip got caught in Grandad's throat. And it was his birthday. And the waitress didn't sing to him - 'They always do at Luigi's'.

"We don't really take Trip Advisor complaints seriously," says Franco Sotgiu of Northern Quarter restaurant Solita (#137 out of 1,651 restaurants in Manchester, not bad).

"If customers have a problem it's imperative that they tell us immediately, we drill our staff to act before the customer leaves and posts a negative review. If a customer starts complaining on TripAdvisor we can't resolve the problem there. We need them to tell us so we can act there and then."

Pieminister makes the top twentyPieminister makes the top twenty

Still, TripAdvisor isn't all flimflam. The hotels section of the site with traveller photos can be useful as a general standards barometer. The restaurants section can even be handy in pointing out eateries that we'd usually have missed. As a quick hotel and restaurant directory the site is invaluable.

The key then to TripAdvisor is how we use it.

This involves developing an innate drivel sieve, the ability to spot a moron from 45cm to 75cm (the recommended distance from eyes to monitor, didn't you know?). Raking out those that are more concerned with the temperature of their seat's arse-padding than the stuff coming out of the kitchen. Realising that more than half of the list below have received less than 100 reviews, and that a positive review for the Vivid Lounge with twelve reviews (#16) and a positive review for Australasia with 1,651 reviews (#35) do not match-up.

We don't doubt that listed below are a few little corkers, deserving of their recognition, no matter how scant. The editor had a blinding meal in Saigon Lotus in recent months, while Pieminister is one of the most reliable fills in the whole city.

Still, any right-minded self-respecting Manchester restaurant goer should take with a pinch of salt a review site that hails a Castlefield function room (not even an actual restaurant) with only 26 reviews as the best restaurant in all of Manchester.

Particularly when all the food for the number one restaurant comes from the kitchen of the Albert's Shed, languishing down at number 58.

Fair? Hardly.

Trip Advisor's top twenty Manchester restaurants (27/08/14):

1. The Castlefield Rooms, Dukes92, Castlefield - 26 reviews

2. MyLahore, Curry Mile - 598 reviews

3. Alexandros Greek restaurant, Northernden - 319 reviews

4. Sanskruti, Fallowfield - 208 reviews

5. Le Delicatezze Di Bruno, Clayton - 299 reviews

6. Jollof, Gorton - 79 reviews

7. Saray, Chorlton - 143 reviews

8. Fish & Chips, Whitefield - 37 reviews

9. Lusitano, Chorlton - 41 reviews

10. Saigon Lotus, Ancoats - 49 reviews

11. Kabana, Northern Quarter - 125 reviews

12. Ziya Asian Grill, Curry Mile - 51 reviews

13. Cafe 22, Oldham - 25 reviews

14. Pacifica Cantonese, Eccles - 408 reviews

15. Cote Brasserie, City Centre - 126 reviews

16. Vivid Lounge, Ancoats - 12 reviews

17. Teatime Collective, Hulme - 15 reviews

18. Pieminister, Northern Quarter - 65 reviews

19. No.4 Dine & Wine, Didsbury - 119 reviews

20. Mamma Mia, Denton - 23 reviews


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26 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

BenAugust 27th 2014.

The whole list is just odd, and geographically it doesn't really work. Shouldn't Saray and Lusitano be on this list for example; www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurants-g1993064-Chorlton_cum_Hardy_Greater_Manchester_England.html… If the list just took into account city centre restaurants I wonder how it would look then?

AnonymousAugust 27th 2014.

It looks odd, but then most of those places are completely affordable locations to go and eat at. As much as I would love to go to Manchester House and leave it a glowing review on Trip Advisor, I can't. I think the top 20 is quite a nice reflection of affordable places in the city that people like to go, regardless of their distance from the centre. Of course, it would be interesting to find out what the metric for measuring the placement of these particular restaurants, but it's not really much to start crying about. We all get enough exposure to those outlets that can afford / are savvy enough to do their own marketing, and make sure they're at the forefront of everyone's dining decisions. I am massively against Trip Advisor and most things it stands for (the irate comments left by people who can't spell, mostly), but I don't think it's anything to be puzzled about, really. Also, one of the best things you see on there are humorous replies from owners / managers. More should do them and not be afraid of repercussions.

AnonymousAugust 27th 2014.

FYI - Sanskruti is awesome and well deserving of a Gordo visit.

Louise CumberbirchAugust 27th 2014.

I was only discussing this same list with my hubby last weekend so Thank you Manchester Confidential for making it so I know it isn't just me.

JimAugust 27th 2014.

Last time I checked the number one tripadvisor restaurant in Manchester was the Nandos in the arndale centre so things are looking up!

Melinda SinhaAugust 27th 2014.

On that list, only heard of a few and I've only been to number 5 and I have to say that it deserves a top spot. It's very good Italian food and affordable and Bruno is such a nice guy. 6 of us had 18 tapas and either a bowl of pasta or a pizza to share between 2 people and 3 bottles of wine - £80. The place is small so you have to book for the busier nights. It's close to Ethiad stadium/Velodrome stop.

AnonymousAugust 27th 2014.

Who on earth would care about a councillor's opinion?

AnonymousAugust 27th 2014.

And the ability to spot manipulated positions? Try checking how many restaurants have 5* "reviews" from people who have only reviewed that one place. There is at least one restaurant in the top 20 where 90% of their (5*) reviews must be from people who have only reviewed that place. A bit suspicious to say the least.

SquirrelitoAugust 27th 2014.

maybe people have just given their opinions and scores, like for like, as you do. Maybe they're aware of little gems that ManCon hasn't had the time or inclination to visit. Its not encouraging when the ManCon "experts" not only profess not to even know of what may be thriving restaurants, but are actually sneery about not knowing. Maybe if they served dirty burgers, ribs, pulled pork and ribs, you'd know more about them. Just a thought.

Wall-EAugust 28th 2014.

Tried 11 of those. Catch up.

1 Response: Reply To This...
AnonymousAugust 28th 2014.

Yeah, heard of 8, been to 4.

Nick NameAugust 28th 2014.

Pacifica in Eccles? Really?! It's about as average as you can get. The place next door, Smiths, is 10 times better. Surprised Greens or the Lime Tree aren't mentioned.

AnonymousAugust 28th 2014.

Maybe city centre/NQ restaurant and bar goers use twitter and personal blogs to discuss their eating experience. Trip Adviser perhaps has an older crowd using it so it's skewed towards the suburbs and old favourites.

Lorraine ByrneAugust 28th 2014.

I've only eaten in one of these places and I eat out AND post on trip adviser all the time! Random list.

rEddie_brekAugust 28th 2014.

I know six of them. WHAT DO I WIN? (It's a meal at The Castlefield Rooms, isn't it?)

Steve5839August 29th 2014.

As an user of TA I believe in cr@p in cr@p out, use it as a tool and forget the listings, look at the reports of each place and if they are from many people with only one listing, they are probably a fakes and should be ignored. I have eaten at a few of the top 10 ten TA sites and they regularly throw up some interesting alternatives. I am also going to eat at Manchester House in a couple of weeks, and to under line a point, I have two friends who have eaten there previously, one says it was great and the other says he would never go a again. So use TA and what it is a tool and make your own judgement.

Tariq MohammedAugust 30th 2014.

Hey Gordo don't be jealous it's a free service I think you get paid enough through your advert articles paid should I add so grow up and leave them alone

1 Response: Reply To This...
MaggieDecember 30th 2014.

Really Tariq? Really?

jdobson76September 1st 2014.

Well I've heard of 3 and been to 2...as commented above possibly the metric being used is value for money. Paying £10-15 for a curry/tapas dish at a local and your expectations are not as high as £170pp (incl wine) for the 12 course taster at M'cr House. Quite a few TA commenters also would only go to the city centre restaurants for special occasions, so again expectations are heightened. Out of the two I have eaten at on the list (numbers 3 and 19) the quality of food and attentiveness at 19 way surpasses no 3, yet the relaxed atmosphere is the other way around...

AnonymousSeptember 1st 2014.

TripAdvisor is a great tool for the savvy consumer, a look through a selection of reviews (and reviewers) for a given establishment will soon show up those with fake reviews. Take Bruno's (No5 on the list, previously No1). This is a fantastic affordable place that doesn't fall into the PR and media glossed city centre idea of a good restaurant. Jolly Cafe is similar. Quirky, small scale operations that deliver on quality and a friendly welcome at an affordable price. TripAdvisor is a fantastic tool to puncture the media manipulation by the PR companies employed bybetter financed operations.

Barry TravisSeptember 1st 2014.

Wow that's pretty wild, got about 4 or 5 of them at most......whats at number 21 Bagel Nash in the Arndale??

Cathy BryantSeptember 1st 2014.

I adore both The Teatime Collective and Greens, and I'm very glad to see them mentioned in this article, albeit in different sections. Send Gordo to Hulme to the collective and see how he gets on!

AnonymousSeptember 1st 2014.

A well paid journalist criticising reviews left by (mainly) paying customers. Oh dear, throwing toys out of your pram because you did not get your way, what a shame.

AnonymousSeptember 1st 2014.

Did they enjoy their fish and chips at Wetherspoons? It's fresh these days.

Suzanne MountainSeptember 4th 2014.

FYI - Why not do a review at Mamma Mia in Denton (#20)??? It's a lovely local authentic Italian restaurant - (and it's just won a planning battle to stay open, so could do with a boost from yourselves! www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/…/denton-restauranteur-toasts-victory-opening-7705815…) Why not venture beyond town and Chorlton!!!

Barbara TonerSeptember 5th 2014.

I went to the Celebration of Mamma Mia winning the battle to stay open and would like to say what a lovely little place this is , i eat out a lot and i love to support local and small eating places as much as i love to eat at La Vina on Deansgate and Pesto in the Trafford Centre, Please come and try Mamma Mia you will not be disappointed its on Hulme Road Denton

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