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A variety of factors interact to influence my opinion on an eating establishment, be it a taco wagon or an upscale restaurant.

The Food

Obviously! But it is much more than just how it tastes, although crappy food can never be balanced by other factors. While all of the elements that go into taste such as quality ingredients and skillful preparation matter greatly, I'm looking for more. How unique is it? I am more likely to drive 50 miles out of my way for some good carnitas than I would be for a great hamburger. How different is it? If you serve me something that I would have never thought of doing, and it's good, I will bow down in homage.


I want prompt service that does not intrude on my dining experience. I don't want to be your best friend and I don't care what your name is. I do want a drink in my hand ASAP, though, and you better make sure my glass is never empty. If you provide good recommendations, you will make me a happy man. The food better be damn good to make up for bad service.


How I rate this one depends upon the restaurant's and the meal's context. It encompasses noise level, background music, the decor and clientele. I will make an effort to point out circumstances in which it might be better to visit a place. Sometimes what works for lunch just doesn't ring my bell at dinner. It is hard to overcome bad ambiance since I cannot enjoy a meal if I'm in a bad mood.


The more expensive a place, the harder I'll grade it on the above factors. All else being equal, a $5 burger is always better than a $10 one.

The Ratings

I will try to visit a place multiple times before I write a review. Sometimes, though, a place is so bad, it only takes once. On the other hand, I would like to bring attention to place that has potential, so I'll flag it with Quick Bite and will follow up later after additional visits.

5 Stars: This is among the most amazing food you will ever eat. I will visit this place as often as I can so I can work my way, continuously, through the menu. You cannot get this rating unless the food is top notch and the ambiance perfectly matches the context. I will over look the occasional service slip, but not if it appears to be systemic.

4 Stars: This is a good place. You will get a very good meal here. This will always be a good fall back option when you're stuck for where to eat out. They offer enough good dishes to allow you to see past the items on the menu aren't that great, how loud the place is, or the fact that their prices are a tad too high.

3 Stars: Eh. I don't feel like I wasted my money, but I probably won't come back here. If you have no other options, I suppose. Likely, the low price allows you to stomach the less than stellar food or consistently bad service.

2 Stars: This place sucks. I finished my meal, but I was not enthused. This place must be avoided!

1 Stars: Why is this place in business? I didn't finish my meal either because the food was inedible or the service was catastrophically bad. I don't need to tell you to avoid this place, since it will probably be shut down soon.

This is a piece I wrote in the summer of 2003 after a series of burger catastrophes. My opinions have evolved since then and I have started to grind my own meat, which adds a whole new dimension to burger thought.

I'm open to a wide variety of options for hamburgers. And whatever you like, well, it's your stomach, so that's up to you. However, there are some immutable laws that apply to this paradise on a bun.

The juicier the better, so fat is good! Ground sirloin makes for an incredibly dry burger. You could get away with ground round, but I reccomend using ground chuck. If you're worried about your weight, then you shouldn't be eating hamburgers in the first place. Do it right or don't do it at all!

Hear, hear! You still can't go wrong with ground chuck. If you're grinding your own meat, though, I would combine it with other cuts like brisket, short rib or even bacon. Yes, that's right, grind the bacon right into that patty.

The bun counts. You're looking for a careful balance. Not enough structual integrity makes for a disaster as the burger disintigrates. Too tough a bread, and everything goes squishing out the sides. You can use onion rolls, whole grain breads, or whatever suits your fancy as long as you pay attention to the architecture.

I have since tried a variety of other breads. Pita doesn't work. I tried it with a lamb and feta burger. It was quite tasty, but absolutely fell apart once the bread was saturated. Use a tortilla or Afghan bread instead. A baguette is border-line: The fresher it is, the softer the bread, the better it works.

Give me pickle slices, not spears. I want the darn things in my burger. The vinigar and other flavors really add to the beef.

I remember when this first happened and it still occurs. WTF? I asked for pickles ON my burger!

Offer me onions. You may not want them, but I believe that a burger without the crunch and zing of a raw onion is a waste of time.

This only happens when I'm having a burger at someone's house and that someone is an alliumphobe. I try not to associate with these types, but it's hard to pick them out.

No mention of how the patty is cooked? What was I thinking? I prefer, when given the option, medium rare. However, I realize this is not always possible with certain restaurants. In those cases, I look for a patty with a salty, flavorful crust. The Shake Shack comes to mind.

There are two tests that discern burger greatness. First, is it good with nothing on it? If you'd willingly eat just the patty and the bun, then you have a very good burger. This is where 5 Guys utterly fails and should never be included on any list of great burgers. Second, is it good as a leftover? If it still tastes great the next day – cold – then you have a excellent burger.

I will document my eternal quest for burger perfection. I seek this bliss not just at home — where I experiment with different cuts (and types) of meat and toppings — but also on the road.

Hi, my name is Bill Lenoir and I seek joy in every bite I take. I am not defined by what I won't eat, but, rather, what I will. Which is to say, anything and everything. Good food and drink stimulate not only all 5 of my senses, but my brain, too:

  • What is this?
  • What are the ingredients, flavors, aromas, textures?
  • How was it made?
  • Is it something I can do? Or, can I talk my wife into doing it?
  • Where is it from?
  • How did this come about?
  • Is there a story behind it?

I resist the title of foodie. Although I do enjoy gourmet foods and seek the unusual, I will not look down on anything that tastes good, even if it comes from a can. For this reason, I promise to make a good faith effort not to mock the tastes of others, but to learn why someone enjoys something that I currently do not. Am I missing something?

I will share with you all that I learn in my quest for good food. I will write reviews, provide recipes that I've enjoyed, rant about various topics and even recount interesting meals in literature or the movies. All I ask in return is that you don't yuk my yum.