Monday, March 24, 2008

Trip Advisor and, You're Fired!

Cozy Corner (bottom) versus Dot's Soul Food (top).

Having long relied on Trip Advisor for user travel reviews, and (well, only recently) Roadfood to tell me about hidden dive treasures, I regret to inform you that I have fired both websites from my bookmarks. Why? Consider the following case study:

Dot's Soul Food Cafe, Hillsboro Alabama


Cozy Corner Cafe, Memphis Tennessee

Both were rated high on Roadfood, with Cozy Corner's rating a little higher. Dot's food was rated an 85% with voters willing to drive 40 miles to eat there. Cozy Corner's food was rated at 97% with the reviewer willing to drive 80 miles to eat there. Trip Advisor, lists Cozy Corner as its number 9 restaurant out of 864 restaurants in Memphis. Dot's isn't even on the radar at Trip Advisor (probably because it's in the middle of rural Alabama--not exactly a vacation hot spot).

Wow. A restaurant that is number 9 out of 864, that people would drive 80 miles to eat at, and that scored a 97% based on the Roadfood editor's review? I had to go there. So I did as a Trip Advisor reviewer suggested and I got "thee to Cozy Corner." And regretted it. So much good food in Memphis and I was eating at a place that served chewy ribs, watery coleslaw, and spaghetti in barbecue sauce. That last one tastes as good as it sounds, which is, not very. Meals come with fresh from the bag discount white bread. Several slices.

By comparison, Dot served me homemade macaroni and cheese with that extra layer of cheese baked on top, actual fresh corn--not canned, and tender ribs. She baked the corn bread muffins fresh that morning and served several different homemade desserts, including chess pie.

Ambience at both restaurants was basically no frills. Dot's was cafeteria style, on a not very busy highway, in a small Alabama farming town. Cozy Corner was near the famed St. Jude's Children's Hosptial, in a bars-on-the-windows kind of urban area.

As for driving 80 miles to go there, I would say that with gas prices (and earth issues) the way they are, you must be kidding when you suggest that for any restaurant, let alone Cozy Corner.

Dineometer rating: Dot's Soul Food Cafe 90%
Dineometer rating: Cozy Corner 40%


tut-tut said...

Where's Hillsoborough, Alabama? BTW, Jane and Michael Stern gave Zarzour's a big thumbs up (it's just down the street on Rossville from Niedlov's). Have you been there? It's supposed to be the ultimate ol' timey meat&3 experience. I once ate at one of their picks (in Virginia) and it was one of the lousiest meals I've ever had.

DineometerDeb said...

Hillsboro is about 30 miles from Mississippi off highway 72.

I have eaten at Zarzour's but haven't got around to writing the review yet. It is pretty good, but not all dishes are winners.

I don't know what the Roadfood people use as their basis for "good food" and everyone has their own tastes, but this one was way off.

Robert H. said...

Don't let DineometerDeb kid you.

Zarzour's Cafe is fabulous. The Sterns nailed this one. And author-filmaker George Motz named it home to one of the nation's top 100 burgers in Hamburger America.

The plate lunches are absolutely excellent (though I'd avoid their fried fish on Fridays).

DineometerDeb said...

Robert, the "way off" referred to Cozy Corner as mentioned in the article. Zarzour's is good but not all dishes are worth trying again.

Please read the article before disagreeing.

Thanks for stopping by!