How the Infatuation Takes a Human, Journalistic Approach to Restaurant Recs

February 13, 2019

By Carlo Versano

The internet is awash in restaurant reviews. Just ask anyone who's ever been paralyzed by the feeling of indecision when searching for a new place to eat. The Infatuation was created to apply some method to the madness. The restaurant review and recommendation service, founded by a pair of music executives a decade ago, uses "situational" recommendations with the belief that not all restaurant experiences are the same.

Chris Stang, one of The Infatuation's founders, broke down that concept on Cheddar Wednesday. User reviews can be useful, he said, but what's more important is the ability to choose a place to dine based on a handful of metrics: the situation, the location, the experience, and the price.

After all, picking a restaurant for a first date is a different endeavor than picking a restaurant for date night with your spouse.

The Infatuation prides itself on its clear point of view ー its "voice" ー which users can't get from user-generated review platforms like Yelp, or Google. (The Infatuation acquired the Zagat brand from Google last year.) Those sites, with their pages of user ratings, can leave diners with a law of averages ー "4 stars for everything" ー that isn't particularly valuable.

The Infatuation's editorial team operates like a journalistic enterprise: the reviewers dine anonymously on the company's dime, and they visit more than once. The idea, Stang said, is to attempt to replicate the experience a regular diner would have.

A couple years back, The Infatuation expanded on its human approach with a service called Text Rex that allows users to message an Infatuation reviewer for a real-time restaurant recommendation based on the specific situation at hand ー a business meeting in a new neighborhood, perhaps.

The founding principle: help diners find value when eating out, Stang said. "Is your hard-earned money being well spent at this restaurant?"

For full interview click here.