That’s right, it’s time again for the annual biennial Zagat survey to determine the metro area’s best restaurants — or at least the metro area’s best restaurants that you could be bothered or cajoled or threatened or enticed to rate from the past year.

Yep, even though the surveys are conducted every two years, Zagat asks you to limit your judgments to those meals you ate in the past 12 months. I suspect they do so to make the survey seem “fresh,” and to ensure the meals are still “fresh” in your mind, but what this means is that every biennial survey leaves a full year of eating undocumented. What the hell kind of system is this?

I decided to cast a single ballot this time around, just to see what the online voting process was like.  I selected a restaurant from Zagat’s deep and impressive database; I rated it from 0-3 in three categories; I guessed at the price of a single dinner with drink and tip (I’m sure most folks keep their receipts handy); and then submitted the result.

I was taken to a lengthy survey that I had to fill out before I’d be eligible for any rewards, like a free Zagat guide. The questions ranged from the standard (“How many times do you dine out per week?”) to the topical (“Should trans fats be banned from food preparation in restaurants?”) to the economic (“What effect, if any, has the weak economy had on your dining habits?”).

At no point was I asked if I was affiliated with the restaurant that I just voted for.

You have until Feb. 21 to participate in this ballot-stuffing contest survey.

Photo by Darrow Montgomery