Young and Hungry

More on Makoto and Zagat’s Undying Love For It

ZAG08_CoverFollowing my post yesterday on Zagat voters' undying love for Makoto, colleague Michael Birchenall, editor and publisher of Foodservice Monthly, did some serious sleuthing through his back issues of the annual restaurant guide, dating back to 1993.  Here's what he found:

Makoto, which opened in the early 1990s, made a meteoric appearance among D.C.'s best restaurants in the 1997 Zagat guide. It scored 28 out of 30 points in the food category, tying it for second place with L'Auberge Chez Francois, just behind front-runner Inn at Little Washington. It finished in the exact same place the following year.

In 1999, however, Makoto dropped into a five-way tie for third with a 27 score, behind Kinkead's and top finisher, Inn at Little Washington. It finished in the exact same position in 2000.

In 2001, Makoto was alone in second place with a 28 score. The Inn at Little Washington was first.  The following year, the results were exactly the same.

In 2003, Makoto dropped into a six-way tie for third with a 27 score, behind Chez Francois and front-runner Inn at Little Washington. The following year, the results were exactly the same.

In 2005, Makoto moved into a first-place tie with Maestro, Citronelle, Chez Francois, and Inn at Little Washington. They all scored 28 points for food. The results were exactly the same the following year.

In 2007, Makoto was tied for second with Maestro, Citronelle, and Marcel's, each of which scored 28 points. The Inn came in first. The results were the same in 2008.

You know the results from 2009 and 2010.

You see a pattern here? Birchenall did.

"The even years are duplicates of the previous year," Birchenall writes to me. "[U]p to 2000 or 2002 (I don't have a 2002) these even editions would say update (ZAGAT SURVEY 2000 UPDATE) on the cover and have the same info...maybe they took out closed places and added new ones to watch."

The 2004 edition, Birchenall notes, was an update, too, but the word UPDATE was dropped from the cover. Subsequent editions have all dropped the word, too.

What that means is this: The 2010 edition looks to be a minor update of the 2009 issue, with the addition of some new (and from what I can tell, mostly unrated) restaurants and a revised introduction. Beyond that, you get mostly the same capsules throughout the guide (plus a few updated ones for those with chef changes, etc) and the exact same ratings across the board.

And just think: You can get all this for the exact same price as last year's guide, $14.95.

By the way, D.C. Zagat editor Olga Boikess e-mailed me today to say she's out of town on vacation, but would respond next week.