Social media has raised the bar for all restaurants but there are still some who fork out hundreds of euro for plaques on the walls in a bid to get customers in to dine.
But many plaques claiming the restaurant is in “the best” category are snapped up for as much as €250 each are not even backed up by independent reviews.
CEO of the Restaurant Association of Ireland, Adrian Cummins, said restaurateurs should not be spending hundreds of euro on plaques and should rely instead on a system of fair reviews and inspections.
“We feel a lot of companies see it as a business and if they want to spend hundreds of euro on plaques then good luck to them. It is often a doubled-edged sword for restaurateurs. They pay to get in to a guide and then they have to pay for a plaque as well,” he said.
He said some restaurants he said love plaques — ‘the more the better.’ “We strongly advise restaurants not to spend money on this sort of thing. There are a lot of good independent awards systems based on inspection and reviews and this is what restaurants should be aiming for,” he said.
He added: “In these days of social media diners source out different information before they go out to eat.”
Food specialist John McKenna, who along with his wife Sally McKenna, compiles the influential 100 Best Restaurants List, says there can be a lot of plaques and pieces of glass but as a rule, customers should watch out for the name they recognise.
“The best reviews and awards are for the meals that have been paid for,” he said.
He said consumers look for good food experiences at a fair price: “People going out to eat now are not looking for the pomp and ceremony, but the best food experience and the best food in the 100 Best Restaurants List.”
This is Ireland’s longest running independent scheme and is not affiliated to any trade association or marketing group.
Anonymous visits are paid to establishments by experienced assessors who pay like any other customer.
There is no cost to get in the guide.
A team review all the eateries and pick the best 100 ranging from the Michelin star restaurant to cafes.
McKenna’s Guides are compiled and published in app format for both Apple and Android by influential food writers John and Sally McKenna.
They also compile a ‘Where To Eat & Stay on the Wild Atlantic Way’ guide this week. Those on the list are invited to buy a plaque.
Run by the Restaurant Association of Ireland, the aim of this not-for-profit scheme is to improve the overall standards of restaurant and food establishments in Ireland. County winners are selected by a locally-based panel of critics, and these go on to an all-Ireland series for selection.
Still the most prestigious of them all, the Michelin reviewers, known in the company as ‘inspectors’, guard their identities closely and eat in every restaurant that they review.
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