Zagat is one of the top reviewers of places "to eat, drink, stay and play," as the rating service likes to say. To get a high rating from Zagat is like getting the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval.
Zagat to Go '09 for the iPhone puts Zagat's ratings for restaurants, bars, hotels, shopping and resorts in hand. The app has more than 40,000 ratings and reviews.
Launch the app and it immediately starts searching for Zagat-rated venues in your area. If you're in a city in Boston, it pulls up a number of places fairly quickly. If you're in the suburbs, where there are bound to be fewer Zagat-rated venues, it will take a minute or more to find places.
When I tried this app in Boston, Zagat started by sorting my results into restaurants, nightlife, shopping and hotels. When I drilled into restaurants, for example, I got a list sorted by neighborhood, cuisine and other categories.
Drilling deeper by neighborhood took me to a list of restaurants, each with a rating for food, service, decor and cost. One more tap gave me the address, Google map button, phone number, URL and a review. If I liked what I saw, I could save the restaurant as a favorite.
I'm not sure why this is, but nearly every other word in the Zagat reviews are in quotations. It may be because the reviews quote material that's in the hardcopy guide or it may be the reviewer is illiterate. I have no way of checking but it sure is annoying.
There's also an icon on the final restaurant screen with what looks like a pen and paper. Every time I tapped it, Zagat To Go 09 quit. When I tried another category (hotels) I found the icon was for sending email.
The app is relatively straightforward and easy to use. I can see how it might be useful if you travel often. I doubt that I would use Zagat To Go 09 locally because I lean toward the opinions of friends and families for places to go. Although you can have the app search for venues near to you, you 're regularly prompted to update your location. Having the app recognize where you are, without prompts, should be automatic.
Zagat to Go '09 is $9.99, which I think is way out of line for this app, given its flaws and that the information it contains changes year-to-year.