Richard Harden, co-founder of Harden's restaurant guides, shares some favourite sites.

Richard Harden is co-founder of the Harden’s restaurant guides. Harden’s – which has conducted a major annual survey of restaurant-goers since 1991 – pioneered the use of 'User Generated Content' even before the internet became part of everyday life.


The New York Times – 'All the news that's fit to print' from what is – still – probably the world’s best-resourced single newspaper, and nowadays elegantly presented in various online formats. A lot of the content might, from a UK perspective, be dismissed as 'parochial', but that’s almost part of the attraction. However, the coverage of universal topics such as international affairs, business trends, travel, health and food policy – to name but five of the most obvious – really is very hard to beat. Perhaps occasionally a little laborious, but undoubtedly very thorough. And the opinion pieces are always stimulating. (Indeed, they've now even got their own app!) If I had to nominate just one can't-live-without-site, this is it.

Twitter - The immediate news source for the restaurant world – and presumably all other worlds too, once you've accumulated the right collection of people to follow. We have a reasonable following of our own (26k), and it’s always interesting to see reactions to stories we highlight. (And sometimes depressing, how readily the usual mindless carpings come from the usual suspects…)

Restaurant-ing through history - My completely quirky weekly read, inspired by the site's Monday newsletter. Jan Whittaker is a true restaurant devotee. His blog-site, however, is not full of gastroporntastic accounts of meals he has eaten, but rather is always a wonderful quirky musing on some element of the development of restaurant-going: restaurants are really about social history, not food, and this is one of the few sites that seems to recognise this. Recenty, for example, the subject was revolving restaurants. OK, it’s a US site, and never ventures beyond North America, but always interesting nonetheless. – One of those transactional travel sites that does something ‘simple’, but does it really well (and getting better all the time). Locate your hotel (with the aid of copious TripAdvisor-style consumer feedback), book it, and manage your reservations, and all from your desktop (or a very good app too). This really is a case of the tail wagging the dog – if a hotel isn’t on, I'm really quite reluctant to book it! – The rail equivalent of It, similarly, does something conceptually pretty simple, but does it very well, and presents the results in a robust and (fairly) easy to comprehend format. Rail travel is apparently thriving: perhaps websites (and apps) which make sense of the timetabling and ticketing options are playing some small part in that renaissance.

Podio - So, how to describe this 'project management tool'? In plain(ish) English, it’s a cloud-based solution enabling groups, large or small, to work together to common ends. That's most businesses, right? It's certainly my business, which is now largely internally conducted using this handy product (which, again, has an excellent app). It can seem a little daunting at first, but you soon get the hang of it, and I'd urge any SME to check it out. Free, too, for up to five users.

23 July 2014