Best restaurant in Montreal according to Tripadvisor does not exist

<span>Photograph: Dado Ruvić/Reuters</span>
Photograph: Dado Ruvić/Reuters

It’s notoriously difficult to secure a table at the world’s greatest restaurant, but diners hoping to sample the cuisine at Le Nouveau Duluth in Montreal will have an especially hard time.

That’s not only because, until recently, it had the highest Tripadvisor rating of the city’s 3,678 listed eateries – although reviews on the website suggest its menu is beyond belief.

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“Can’t believe this place really exists,” wrote one reviewer.

Not surprising, really, because it doesn’t.

Disappointingly for would-be patrons, an investigation by CBC News has revealed that the restaurant – and its 85 five-star reviews – is entirely fictitious, highlighting the ability to manipulate sites that rely on user feedback, as well as the general murkiness of restaurant reviews.

Photographs on the since-deleted Tripadvisor page show a gloomy interior with a small bar, a couch and barstools.

But to even the most naive diners, Le Nouveau Duluth’s near-endless list of features might have seemed excessive, offering as it did proximity to a beach, valet service, private and buffet dining, live music, a playground and a drive-through option.

Businesses located on the corner of Duluth Avenue and St-Denis Street, where the restaurant was believed to exist, were equally confused.

Yoo Jeung, who runs a flower store called Le Spot Saint-Denis, told the Guardian she had no idea where the restaurant could be – even though it purportedly occupied the same building as her business.

A picture of comedian Charles Deschamps was shown on the Tripadvisor page and a phone number associated with him was also listed. Deschamps did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In recent years, both the ethics of travel companies as well as the integrity of the reviews have come under heightened scrutiny.

“On this occasion, a failure in human moderation practices meant the fake listing remained live on the platform longer than it should have,” Tripadvisor said in a statement. “The listings – including the reviews and photos associated with the listing – are now inactive.”