Beyond Yelp: Famed Restaurateurs Provide Reviews on Dining App
Taste Savant, a tool for discriminating diners looking for restaurant recommendations, launched a mobile app for iPhones, an extension of the website that debuted in 2012. The platform collects information on restaurants in New York, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles to create a curated list of each city’s best and most popular spots.
As an added bonus for users, Taste Savant partners with famous chefs, such as David Chang of Momofuku and Grant Achatz of Alinea, who recommend their favorite places to eat on the app.
Taste Savant is designed to help diners find restaurants in their cities quickly and easily, but unlike Yelp, which looks to feature every restaurant in a particular location, Taste Savant only focuses on the very best and most popular, says Sonia Kapadia, founder and CEO. For example, in New York City, Yelp carries about 10,000 restaurants, while Taste Savant features about 1,000.
“That’s our value proposition,” Kapadia says. “Our users want help in deciding where to eat. So, if a user is looking for a dumpling shop in Chinatown, she can look on our site and find the 10 best dumpling shops, not have 100 to sift through to make a choice. That’s what our users are excited about.”
Other well-known chef and restaurateur partners include Michael White (Altamarea Group), Floyd Cardoz (North End Grill), Marc Murphy (Benchmarc Restaurants), Matthias Merges (Yusho, Billy Sunday, A10), and Frank McClelland (L'Espalier).
Kapadia says these partners “support what we are doing and give us their favorite places to eat. The fact that Michelin gave it a star and David Chang recommends it—that means a lot our users.”
Kapadia is looking to expand the chef’s relations program, adding 20-30 more chefs.
Each Taste Savant city has a local editor responsible for curating restaurant reviews from respected media critics and chef and gourmand recommendations, as well as sifting through feedback from site users and restaurateurs.
The same filters that drive the website are all present on the app, including neighborhood, cuisine, occasion, and price range options. Users also have access to OpenTable and GrubHub directly within the app. For those diners on the go, the mobile application’s geo-location technology finds the best restaurants nearby.
Taste Savant also curates reviews from health and wellness experts at boutique fitness studios, such as Barry's Bootcamp and Flywheel. Each of these experts has a dedicated profile page, housing 10-15 reviews for their favorite restaurants.
Coming down the pike, Taste Savant is expanding into additional cities both within the U.S. and abroad, and is also launching a new black book feature, which lets users create wish lists for their own personal black book. “They can name the list anyway they want—it could be their favorite cupcake places, their favorite breakup place,” says Kapadia. “They can organize restaurants however they want, and then share the list with friends.”
“When we originally launched, we thought the critic reviews would be the most compelling reason that users come to the site,” Kapadia adds. “But what our users love the most is that we are a one-stop shop. They can find the reservation, read the review, read the menu, make a reservation, or order takeout, without leaving the site.”
By Joann Whitcher