Hello, Google+ Local!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012 | 6:35 AM

Introducing Google+ Local, the new home for your reviews, plus much more! You can see reviews on local Google+ pages from people you have in your circles, follow experts you trust and get personalized recommendations. You’ll also get beautiful integration of Zagat so you can make informed decisions with the world’s best reviews. Start exploring neighborhoods and categories on plus.google.com/local.

 

For more details, you can read the announcement post on the Official Google Blog, or, for business owners, on the Google and Your Business blog. Look for updates from the Google+ page and feel free to converse with other users about Google+ Local in the Google+ Discuss forum, and, of course, in Google+ itself.

Posted by Margarita Vaisman, Online Social Media/Reporting Strategist Lead

Meet your Google Places Neighbor: David Barton

Tuesday, May 22, 2012 | 11:41 AM

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Editor’s Note: Now and then we'll spotlight one of our amazing Google Places reviewers. Both so you guys can start to get to know one another and so we can pull together and share our favorite local places. This week we introduce you to David Barton of Manhattan.

To find out more about our community activities in New York, follow us on Twitter or Facebook or sign up for our weekly newsletter


David is always getting groups of friends together for events around the city — “there's always something going on, so why not go check it out!” Since moving here three years ago, he’s found Harlem, Turtle Bay, and Astoria to be some of the best places to find fun activities. A new Google Places user, David took a few minutes to tell us about himself and share some of his local favorites.

Share an ultimate insider tip for your city.
I don't know if this is an ultimate insider tip, but don't be afraid to check out the outer boroughs. Astoria and Brooklyn have so much to offer both in food and activities, plus the prices are cheaper than Manhattan!

If you could see any celebrity’s reviews on Places, who would you choose and why?
I would love to see Woody Allen's reviews since I think he is one celebrity that epitomizes New York City.

Do you have any secret talents?
I can eat massive amounts of food. I secretly want to enter a competitive eating contest.

What would your superpower be?
Definitely the ability to fly.

Tell us some juicy gossip.
When I was younger, I once stole a bag of Skittles from a pharmacy because my parents wouldn't buy it for me.

What’s your ultimate guilty pleasure?
Reading TextsFromLastNight on my iPhone before I fall asleep.

Have any embarrassing moments you’d like to share?
Not anything for all of Google!

What’s your favorite thing about reviewing on Places?
I love to see what other people have to say about some of my favorite places throughout New York City.

If you were going to draw a Google Doodle, what would it be?
It would be a doodle combining aspects of my favorite sports and teams — golf, the New York Yankees and the New York Jets.

What are some of your favorite places you’ve discovered lately?

Alidoro - For lunch, Alidoro is on the expensive side, with many sandwiches ranging from $11-$14. However, I believe it's New York City's best sandwich and they are well worth the price. I highly recommend visiting Alidoro, if only just once, to experience the sassiness of this husband and wife duo as well as some of the best sandwiches I've ever tasted. Order the Pinocchio: prosciutto, sopressata, fresh mozzarella, sweet roasted peppers, olive paste.

Rothmann’s Steakhouse - The highlight of the menu is obviously the steak. The Porterhouse for Two (also offered for three or four people) is a sight to behold. The dish comes out on a tray pre-sliced so you can easily take your pick of the filet or strip. When it’s presented this way, you can see what truly stands before you — a porterhouse nearly three inches thick. I can't even begin to do the flavor justice. The outside of the steak has an incredible sweet crunch to it that plays perfectly off the medium rare interior. (My stomach is growling now just thinking about it.)

8th Street Wine Cellar - The happy hour special is the highlight of this place. Daily, from 4pm-7pm, 8th Street Wine Cellar offers $5 glasses of house wine and, even better, $18 select bottles of wine. The $18 bottle deal is sure to peak anyone’s interest.

Harry’s - The inside is massive, with a stunning bar and what seems like a labyrinth of room after room filled with tables. For brunch, the menu at Harry's is somewhat similar to your typical brunch menu. However, there are some menu items with steak (of course). Prices are somewhat on the expensive side so expect to spend around $20 or so on your meal. However, brunch is accompanied by unlimited champagne for no extra charge so after a couple glasses you won't be complaining about the prices. (Note that orange juice or other mixers for the champagne is an extra charge.)

Sidecar - Sidecar is a neighborhood gem and after eating here, I can see why. Whether it's just heading over for a couple of drinks or sitting down to a meal, Sidecar delivers. It is clear that a tremendous amount of care is put into each and every dish. At around 6:30 on a Friday, Sidecar was full, but not overly crowded. However, by the time we left, there were plenty of people waiting for tables and the bar was bustling. If you're in the area and looking for a great meal with your friends, a date or your parents, I highly recommend Sidecar. The next time I'm in Park Slope I will definitely be looking to head back to try some other items on the menu.

Posted by Topher Ziobro, New York City community coordinator

Meet your neighbour: Chiara Pinto

Monday, May 21, 2012 | 7:09 AM

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Editor’s Note: Now and then we'll spotlight one of our amazing Google Places reviewers. Both so you guys can start to get to know one another and so we can pull together and share our favourite local places. Today, we introduce you to Chiara Pinto from London.

Want to be one of our Featured Users? Sign up for the newsletter to find out how or follow us on Twitter for community activities in London.

Chiara has been in London for ten years (“Must be the money!”) and loves to spend her time “letting the inner critic out” on the capital’s unsuspecting restaurants. We spoke to Chiara about a few of the best meals she’s had in town, as well as her London insider tips.


 
 
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Eat my way around the amazing food scene in London; not great for my waistline but it sure is fun!
Share your ultimate London insider tip:
If you're having a hard day's shopping on the Kings Road, go to St Luke's Church just behind the Waitrose. They have lovely grounds and you can pick up some food and have a picnic if the weather's nice.

Which celeb would you love to see reviewing on Places?
Stephen Fry; he's so witty I bet his reviews would be riveting!

What’s your favourite Google event you’ve been to and why?
The Modern Pantry brunch; it was just such a perfect start to the weekend. The Bloody Mary jugs didn't hurt either!

And what are a few of your favourite London places?

Galvin at Windows - Love this place. I’ve never had a bad meal here and they can even make me like things I didn't think I was going to e.g. liquorice panna cotta. And of course I don't need to mention the stunning views, the photos speak for themselves!

Gauthier Soho - Gauthier has stunning food and fabulous, unobtrusive service. We had the tasting menu and there wasn't a course I didn't like. Highly recommended.

Polpetto at The French House - Adored Polpetto, almost everything we ate was fantastic and the place has a great vibe. Particular standouts for me included the chili garlic prawns, the steak with white truffle sauce and the zucchini fries. The only duff note was the salad of pea, fennel and ricotta, which didn't have much fennel flavour and was fairly bland. Also getting a special shout out from me is the tiramisu, one of the best I've ever eaten but it came in a tiny shot glass, I had serious dessert envy when I saw the massive slice of flourless chocolate cake my friend got. Next time I'm getting two of the tiramisu!!

The Table - All the reviews of this place seem to be for brunch but I can confirm it is equally good for dinner. I ordered the veggie option which came fabulously presented (they're big on presentation), a huge platter of asparagus, artichoke, courgette and a duck egg. Everything was perfectly seasoned and cooked. The only slightly duff note was my strawberry and coconut cheesecake which was more like a mousse. My brother got the chocolate marquis and definitely won the dessert round. The benches you sit on are heavy (be prepared for an upper body workout when you pull them out) but I think it's more glam than its cafe name would suggest and it has a lovely courtyard if the weather gets warm again. Recommended.

Posted by Alexandra Sheppard, London community coordinator

Meet your Google Places Neighbor: Jared Horowitz

Thursday, May 10, 2012 | 7:07 AM

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Editor’s Note: Now and then we'll spotlight one of our amazing Google Places reviewers. Both so you guys can start to get to know one another and so we can pull together and share our favorite local places. This week we introduce you to Jared Horowitz of Queens.

To find out more about our community activities in New York, follow us on Twitter or Facebook or sign up for our weekly newsletter


Jared grew up about an hour outside NYC in “the land of apples, onions, and antique shops” and knew when he had a chance, this is where he wanted to live. Moving here about two years ago, he sees the city as full of opportunity, diversity, and the chance to try many new foods. Jared took a few minutes from finding “little nooks of culture” to chat with us about himself and his favorite finds in Queens.

Do you have any secret talents?
I'm near competition level in Mortal Kombat 9, and my Skyrim speed-runs are sure to impress the dozen or so people who know what I'm talking about.  

What would your superpower be?
Flight. That way, I'd get to skip those rush-hour trains.

What’s your ultimate guilty pleasure?
Choco-tacos. No explanation needed.

Have any embarrassing moments you’d like to share?
I once fell asleep with a coffee in my hand while riding the subway. I guess I didn't drink it fast enough.

Do you have any pets?
I'd love a dog, but I don't have the heart to keep it in my apartment while I'm away. That, and my neighbors downstairs would knock my door down!

What’s your favorite thing about reviewing on Places?
I love to know that I could possibly be steering someone toward their new favorite spot. I like to get lost, and I hope that sharing my experiences on Places saves some people time.

If you were going to draw a Google Doodle, what would it be?
A Festivus Google Doodle for the rest of us!

Share an ultimate insider tip for your city.
Don't be afraid to get off at the wrong subway stop. You're almost guaranteed to find something amazing, be it a restaurant, hobby shop, park, or person.

What are some of your favorite amazing places that you’ve found in New York?

Sake Bar Hagi
  - An experience you wouldn't expect from a midtown Japanese restaurant. They serve up both classic Japanese dishes and some genre-defining but oh-so-good oddities. Go with a few friends and be prepared to wait, but come hungry! Don't skip over the classics, and order a few dishes. Portions are small, affordable (cheap, even) and sharable — standard for an izakaya. Come here for the grilled yellowtail collar (Hamachi Kama) and some of their other, genre-blurring oddities. Fish sausage corn dogs? Tempura-fried tempura pizza? Count me in!

Terakawa Ramen - This underrated ramen joint is arguably one of the best in the city. The Terakawa tonkatsu bowl is a deep, rich shade of pork-fat brown, creamy and delicious. The noodles, although not made in-house, have the perfect bite and chew. Looking for something spicy? Their deep-orange Tan-Tan Men is piled high with bean sprouts, green onion, and spicy pork sausage. Stick with these two choices — you will not be disappointed. Almost overwhelmingly attentive service may make things uncomfortable at times, but all that melts away after your first bite.

Copacabana - At an average of about ten dollars a plate, this Brazilian comfort food spot is a must-visit in the Long Island City/Astoria area. The feijoada, a salty pork and black bean stew, will make your trip worthwhile. Meats from the churrascaria are fantastic, and plentiful. Do you like chicken hearts from a spit? Bacon-wrapped turkey? Various sausages and steaks? Of course you do. This is the kind of place to go to taste and new things. With buffet-style dining (a plus, in this situation) and ridiculously low "by-the-pound" pricing, the borderline awful decor is easily forgotten. Copacabana has incredible prices, and even better food. Trust me, this is a neighborhood favorite you shouldn't pass on.

Bareburger - Mmm... Ostrich burgers. Bareburger serves up burgers, fries and beers in healthy portions. The "sweet potato croqs" are a must-have- a divine union of sweet potato and parmesan cheese. Bareburger is well known for its unique meat selections (lamb, wild boar, elk, organic bison), but they offer up all of the classics, too. Bonus points for free-range, pasture raised, antibiotic, (mostly) organic, hormone free meats! Tip: Try the wild boar.

Sweet Aftron - Arguably one of the more hip bars in the Astoria area, this after-hours spot is a must-go if you’re looking for a "cool" atmosphere north of Williamsburg. The small menu is packed with excellent choices, and their mixed drinks menu makes it a destination. Try their mac & cheese — it's some of the best I've ever had, and that's saying a lot. One of the finest brunches in the neighborhood, too!

Posted by Topher Ziobro, New York City Community Coordinator

Meet your Google Places Neighbour: Jason Pinto

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 | 7:17 AM

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Editor’s Note: Now and then we'll spotlight one of our amazing Google Places reviewers. Both so you guys can start to get to know one another and so we can pull together and share our favourite local places. Today, we introduce you to Jason Pinto from London.
Want to be one of our Featured Users? Sign up for the newsletter to find out how or follow us on Twitter for community activities in London.

Jason has been calling London home for ten years, when he moved here to take on a new job. When he isn’t eating out at new restaurants or making “mean chocolate almond cookies,” he’s reviewing London hotspots on Google Places and dropping by our events. Our latest featured user told us his ultimate London tips, including where to find the very best desserts in the capital...


What’s your favourite thing about writing reviews on Google Places?
Getting to go to fun Google Places events! We had the most amazing breakfast at The Modern Pantry.

Share your ultimate London insider tip:
Great, cheap Malaysian food at Rasa Sayang, near Oxford Street (does the best roti canai).

Which celeb would you love to see reviewing on Places?
Raymond Blanc, just to see if he writes his reviews with a French accent.

Tell us some juicy gossip:
SUSHIsamba is opening in Heron Tower during Summer 2012 — they will do Brazilian, Peruvian and Japanese cuisines.

We’ll keep an eye out for it! And what are a few of your favourite London places?

Gauthier Soho - Upmarket feel, great atmosphere and attentive service. Amazing food created by Alexis Gauthier and his team. The tasting menu is highly recommended; in my opinion it is one of the best. Don't fill up on the amazing freshly baked breads at the start, as you will definitely need to save space for dessert, especially if it is their signature Louis XV chocolate praline — heavenly!!!

Galvin at Windows, Park Lane Hilton - We had the set lunch at Galvin at Windows in Park Lane Hilton. Pleasant service as usual and we got a window table as requested, as it was a birthday celebration — it had great views over Hyde Park. Our relatives from abroad enjoyed the experience and are still talking about it. Enjoyed the pork cheeks for mains. L'Artisan du Chocolat chocolates to end was a nice touch with the coffees. Amazing signature marshmallows — especially love the strawberry and coffee ones!!! We will definitely be going back again.

OXO Tower Wharf - Loved the place and amazing views. Attentive staff and fabulous food. Fish and chips is excellent, as well as the burger, and cheaper than other places in Gabriel's Wharf which are not as good in my opinion. Will be back to Oxo Tower again soon!!!

The Table - The Table Cafe is a lovely place, very casual with wooden benches and tables. Our NZ server was super sweet and comped us an extra dessert of ice cream; sadly the salted caramel was a bit too salty for me. But on the whole the food is great, with unusual ingredients like black potatoes. The onglet steak was delicious and not at all chewy, as this cut can sometimes be, testimony to good cooking. Also, the wood pigeon and wild rabbit were perfectly cooked — though they had undersold the wild rabbit on the menu, as it came with beautiful roasted root vegetables. Yummy, sticky toffee puddings. Will be back again very soon!

Clos Maggiore — Excellent service and good food, apart from slightly tough lamb. Waiting staff remembered mention of birthday celebrations without having to be reminded on the day — candle in dessert and happy birthday was a nice touch. Also, conservatory is lovely (and romantic), but if you sit near the fireplace you get a cold blast of air. Overall, enjoyed another great meal at Clos Maggiore and we will be visiting again soon.

Posted by Alexandra Sheppard, London community coordinator

Meet your Google Places Neighbor: Philip Turner

Friday, April 20, 2012 | 8:55 AM

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Editor’s Note: Now and then we'll spotlight one of our amazing Google Places reviewers. Both so you guys can start to get to know one another and so we can pull together and share our favorite local places. This week we introduce you to Philip Turner of Manhattan.

To find out more about our community activities in New York, follow us on Twitter or Facebook or sign up for our weekly newsletter

 
 
Philip has made New York City his home since 1985. When not working in publishing, he’s traveling all over the five boroughs in search of great baklava or a good book.  Philip took a few minutes to let us in on his favorite places and insider tips for the city.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Ride my bicycle, read noir-ish mystery novels and hang out with my wife and teenage son.

What’s your favorite thing about sharing reviews on Places?
Letting other people know about the fabulous merchants, foodies, musicians, etc. that I enjoy.

Share an ultimate insider tip for your city.
If you're in a cab trying to get somewhere quickly, stay away from the avenues in the center of the city, hang on the margins (like West End Avenue).

 

What’s your favorite Google event you’ve been to and why?
The Mao Marathon, a reading Google co-sponsored last December. I first met Esther there and wrote about the memorable occasion on my blog, The Great Gray Bridge, where I talk about music, culture, events, and odd moments in the city.

If you could see any celebrity’s reviews on Places, who would you choose and why?
I'd like to know where Al Pacino eats Sunday breakfast, when he's in the city.

What would your superpower be?
Speed reading.

Have any embarrassing moments you’d like to share?
Occasionally thinking I recognize someone, saying hello, and then finding out I'm mistaken.

If you were going to draw a Google Doodle, what would it look like?
It'd be a doodle with a book, a binding and words tumbling off the page and streaming out of the books. Maybe there would also be some readers looking on in amazement.  

After 27 years in New York City, what are some of your current favorite places?

Broadway Restaurant - Friendliest diner I've been to in NYC. Tony at the counter makes you feel right at home. It's my regular weekend breakfast place.

The Greek Restaurant - Best Greek food in Manhattan and fair prices. Avgolemo soup is superb, as is the gyro, Greek fries, grilled fish, and their fresh, fresh salads.

The Living Room - Excellent vibe to this mostly acoustic room, though they also know how to rock out here. No heavy hand about drink minimum, though one is expected to order a drink per set. I love this mellow listening room.

Bluestockings - A really good politically-minded bookstore. Terrific stock and well laid out with good lighting.


Posted by Topher Ziobro, New York City community coordinator

Introducing our Paris Community Manager, Raphaelle Thibaut

Monday, April 16, 2012 | 7:08 AM

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Bonjour à tous!

In any big city, on any street corner, at any moment, we can see something that can make our day. But especially in Paris...

I’m Raphaëlle, a 27-year-old Parisian, and I’m delighted to join the team of Community Managers for Google Places – and to be your representative in Paris! Social media gives us a unique opportunity to talk about our city, discover what we love about it and share it with the world...

                                            
My love affair with Paris began 11 years ago when my fascination led me here — to Sorbonne University. I instantly fell in love with this stylish city that still surprises me every day and drove me to become a real hot spots seeker.   

I trained for 17 years as a classical musician in a strict academy before devoting myself completely to my other passion, the Internet. My digital background is in advertising as it associates to social media strategy. As a community manager, I’ve freelanced for several brands like Adidas and worked for some ad agencies like DDB° Paris and Les Gros Mots

Nope, Paris still didn’t get the sea. It’s just said that I’m funny on a beach.  

Oh yeah, and I spend about 32 hours a day decoding the web via Google+ and Twitter and hundreds of tech-junkie blogs and sites...

Still, music is more than ever a part of me today — you can find my most recent compositions on SoundCloud. Given that I’m surrounded by music, I am very sensitive to the acoustic environment of a place. That brings me to another reason why I love Paris: its aural atmosphere is just magic — very lively, but not too noisy!

Here are some spots you’ll find me in Paris:

The Saint-Martin Canal. It’s a picturesque place and a pretty quiet corner to take a walk, ride a bike,  have a picnic or eat in cosy restaurants as La Cantine de Quentin. Cafés and quirky boutiques also flank the water-and-iron footbridges, like Artazart or very colorful Antoine et Lill store.

Le Mansart, Pigalle quarter. South Pigalle is the Parisian hipster nightlife place, and Le Mansart is totally part of it. It’s packing the coolest crowd of the quarter, playing table football and drinking cheap beer. And if the evening seems to short for you, you can extend it thanks to the nearby Carmen, a very refined and high-end club.

    
     I also love pandas, and homemade-Sunday-night meals.

Le Nanashi, Marais quarter. A healthy, Japanese-inspired creative eatery, including a selection of one of the best bentos in Paris. Helpful after too much cheap beer (see above). I guess that’s why they most often see me on Sunday for the brunch...

Le Batofar, 13th quarter. Early in the morning, after hours of fun, you realize that it’s a boat when you suddenly see the Seine appearing through the portholes.

The historic Marais quarter is my prime stomping ground for shopping, thanks to all its vintage boutiques and also the Saint-Ouen flea market for its very discounted and vintage clothes, shoes, antique furniture and odd objects.

And if you ask me what I love the most about Paris, I would probably say the stunning view from my apartment, at Montmartre...

I have explored Paris for many years but I know I still haven’t discovered half of the places out there...
How about joining me on this journey to find the countless ways to enjoy Paris? Follow @GoogleParis on Twitter, sign up for our newsletter, take part in our cool activities and share your discoveries with everyone reviewing them on Google Places!

I can’t wait to share all of the hottest news from the bustling Paris streets and to see you at a few of them along the way, so stay tuned!

Posted by Raphaëlle, Paris community manager