Q. What is a PID?

A. PID is my boyfriend aka my "Partner In Dine"

Q. Who is DDDK?

A. DDDK is the founder and CEO (Chief Eating Officer) of the Pittsburgh Pizza Club.  Have a suggestion for a pizza joint she and the crew should try out?  e-mail her at pizzaclub[@]tastetheburgh[.]com

Q. What is a FORT?

A.  Forts are our "Friends of the Round Table"

Q. How do you decide where to eat?

A. Sometimes it's a drive-by decision, others it's a craving, others still it's because a restaurant owner has asked me to give their menu a try.  More often than not, however, we rely on this gem:

Q. Will you review my restaurant?

A. Are you a Pittsburgh based establishment?  Then heck yes we will! PID and I operate on a limited budget and choose our review spots based upon our monthly available funds.  If you'd like to send a giftcard, we can be sure to review your restaurant much more quickly -- but I'd love it if you could supply one for a giveaway my readers as well!

Q. What kind of camera do you use?

A. I just recently purchased a new camera.  You may have noticed that my last few posts have featured much crisper photographs. I now use a Fujifilm Finepix F80EXR.

My reason for choosing it? I asked around and did some serious online research.

The first of my qualifications for choosing a camera was that it was under $300.00 since -- lest I remind you -- I am NOT a millionaire.

The second was that it have an excellent low light capture setting.  I had found that to be the major problem with my last camera since so many restaurants "set the mood" to a point where the dining room is quite dark.

The third and maybe most important, was that it be compact. I have to be able to take it with my everywhere in case I make an unplanned stop. Also, it's difficult to be inconspicuous in an elbow to elbow dining room with a massive piece of machinery.

And finally, as a photography novice with little time to study or practice, it needed to be extremely user friendly.

The Fujifilm Finepix F80EXR fit all of these qualifications and I've been very happy with it so far.  I'm still learning as I go but it certainly seems to capture the essence of every dish I shoot.  Here's an example:

Before the Fujifilm:
(Spicy Seafood Pasta from Luma)

With the Fujifilm:
(Sea Scallops from Elements)


Q. What is the basis of your rating system?

A. My answer is far from rocket science.

I base my simple 5-star system on 5 simple areas:

1.) Atmosphere
2.) Service
3.) Menu (variety, uniqueness, overall appeal)
4.) Plating
5.) Taste

Price never comes in to play in my rating.  I feel that everyone is different. For me to say that a star should be lost because a dish is too expensive does not seem fair. Some of my readers may think nothing of cost while others are extremely concerned with it. That is why I always disclose the price of my meal and my thoughts about its worthiness within my blog, but it never comes in to play when I rate the meal.

Essentially, here is the play-by-play:

= Above and beyond average. You NEED to try this place.

= Well above average. Check this place out.

= Just above average.  Give it a shot, you may enjoy it.

=  Below average. It wasn't the worst I've had but I wouldn't suggest it.

 = Way below average. Seriously, don't go here.

I also do half stars.  2.5 is exactly average, right in the middle.  Anything else that gets a half star means I liked it just a teensy bit better than my typical ratings and decided it needed a slight boost.

Q. Why do you use crappy hand drawn stars?

A. Well, because I know my lack of culinary education means that my opinion is far from prestigious.

I originally used the legitimate gold star rating images and thought it looked too official, so I went in a different direction.

Q.  Why don't you post more often?

A. I would, but I can't friggin' afford to eat out that often.

Q. How do I contact you?

A. Have a question, discrepancy or comment about one of my reviews?

Have a question, discrepancy or comment about me?

Have a suggestion for a restaurant I should try?

Are you a restaurant owner hoping for a review?

Do you want to sponsor a giveaway for my readers and drive foot traffic to your restaurant?

Are you a member of the media?

Feel free to contact me anytime: blake[@]tastetheburgh[.]com

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