Yelp. Open Table. Trip Advisor. The Fork. What would we do without you? Where else can we turn to determine which greasy spoon serves the best chicken fried steak (CFS for short, when you’re too hungover to speak full words)? Is the newest chef at the local standby worth the risk? Unless you are a dual income, no kids (DINK) couple, or single and joyfully make your reservations for a party of one, your occasions to eat out may be few and far between. Or you’re a terrible parent, constantly ditching the kids on a nightly basis in exchange for good eats and drink. *
Your time is valuable. You depend on recommendations from user review websites to help make the best decision possible. The problem is, we have entered an age in which everyone is an “expert.” Thanks to the anonymity and brazenness allowed by crowdsourcing reviews, keyboard crusaders impact the fate of an establishment with expert culinary takes like, “your cuisine might be world class, but it lacks one ingredient-heart,” and “why would I want to eat edible Styrofoam?” These idiotic 1-star assessments of a 3-star Michelin restaurant are why I quit user review websites cold turkey.
Frustrated, I began looking for a trustworthy source in our community. I thought, Billings must have someone offering a worthy critique of our local gastronomy scene, right? Someone out there must be willing to describe the too-spicy tamale sauce, to label the Long Island as too stiff, or praise a new take on the gazpacho. After a half-hearted Google search, and a onceover on Billings365.com, it became apparent that nobody has taken on the task of offering a comprehensive and honest breakdown of their meal, the drinks, and the dining experience, whether it be at a brick-and-mortar establishment or food truck. Drawing on the inspiration and courage of Katniss Everdeen, I offer myself as tribute.
Let me first say: I have not attended culinary school. I am not a journalist. I have not submitted any formal reviews on food to anyone, anywhere. I simply love food and drink. To me, cuisine is like art, you don’t have to defend it, or have a rationale on why you think it is good. If you like it, that is reason enough. I have been lucky enough to spend time eating my way through Italy, Paris, Amsterdam, Portugal, Thailand, Mexico, and across the Big Sky and the United States. In fact, culinary exploration is my favorite aspect of travel. Visiting a new city means spending countless hours drinking wine and eating the best food on offer. Beyond the fine dining, I have a deep connection with the food truck scene in Billings, and a guilty pleasure for gas station food. Like Andrew Zimmer says, “If it looks good, eat it”.
I won’t be offering any stars in my reviews. Cuisine, being like art, every establishment will have something for someone—I even know a guy who would give HuHot six stars…out of five possible. What I intend to do is give my sincere take on every meal, drink, and establishment that I write about. I will do my best to bury my bias for previously tasted food and business I’ve been to.
Billings has a remarkable and ever-growing food scene, ranging from Montana’s steak-and-potatoes staples to flavors from around the world. I look forward to offering my honest assessment, even if it means you’ll want to give me a 1-star review.
*The writer is indeed a DINK with little real understanding of the difficulties of parenting.