Monday, November 2, 2009

The Rating System

Just as standardized tests have spurred American education to unforeseen heights, this blog hopes to catapult the Philly Cheesesteak to transcend classification as a food and become a historical, cultural, and sexual landmark, the likes of which have rarely been achieved (1). This system consists of five main criteria: One for each of the Cheesesteak trifecta (bread, meat, and cheese), one for the overall blend, and a criterion for miscellaneous extras. The steaks are high (lol), but would you expect any less? Let's dive right into it!

Bread [10 points]:
In a true Philly Cheesesteak, the only acceptable bread is an authentic Amoroso sandwich roll. However, because I do not live in Philadelphia, this is unheard of and will simply result in an automatic one-point deduction from every sandwich I eat, meaning no sandwich reviewed on this site will achieve the full 15 points possible (2), sorry Ciabatta, even you are not exempt. What I expect from the bread is a radiating warmth and a delicate balance that is neither too crunchy nor too mushy. I expect both structure and pubescence.

Steak [10 points]:
The heart and soul of any great sandwich is the meat and this sandwich demands no less than the best... steak! It's in the name and it's in the mind of any great Cheesesteak connoisseur (3). The meat should be sliced thinly for easy penetration, but hearty enough to get a good mouthful. Browning is key, too light or too dark and you're already losing points. I expect both substance and vim.

Cheese [10 points]:
Cheese is the third necessity for a good Cheesesteak and this ingredient leaves the most space for creativity. While the cheese needs to be melty and taste like cheese, any variation from American to Mozarella to Provolone to Cheese Whiz is acceptable. The flavor and texture of the cheese is what is important here. I expect both smack and luxury.

Sandwich [10 points]:
Emergence is the way complex systems and patterns arise out of a multiplicity of simple interactions - and the Philly Cheesesteak is so much more than just the sum of its parts. In this category, I judge the sandwich as a whole, how the ingredients play off of and compliment each other. All ingredients must make themselves known, but they cannot overpower the sandwich (4). I expect both gusto and harmony.

Miscellaneous [10 points]:
This category includes 5 subcategories, worth 2 points each.

  • Presentation [2 points]:
A Philly Cheesesteak should be both mouth-watering and eye-watering. Any good chef is an artist and I expect to feel that just by looking at my dish.

  • Value [2 points]:
Intrinsic value aside, the Cheesesteak is a meal and should provide you the desired sustenance without breaking the bank. I'm not expecting a free sandwich (contact info in the sidebar) or anything, but I would like to get my money's worth.

  • Atmosphere [2 points]:
Cleanliness, comfort, and courtesy - The three essential C's for any restaurant desiring a welcoming environment. Take note restauranteurs! This category, while worth only 2 points, can influence the mood of the entire experience, causing points gained or lost across the board.

  • Sides [2 points]:
“Man cannot live by Cheesesteak alone.” This infamous Bible passage is undeniably false, but it does open the gates for a category involving any extra or bonus food that comes with the sandwich. Be it fries, fruit, cloe slaw, or corn, this category is for those side-dishes that should compliment the meal, but not draw attention away from the main attraction, the Philly Cheesesteak.

  • The Extra Mile [2 points]:
This is a category for bonuses that must be earned. Whether it's the abundant beverage selection or the complimentary wetnaps, going the extra mile is something any restaurant serving a delicious sandwich should strive for. Do not settle for mediocrity Cheesesteak devotees!

This system has a potential for 50 points, 10 from each main criterion. Each Cheesesteak will be given a grade based on its score. The grades are as follows:

48-50 pts: A glorious Cheesesteak.
Philadelphians do not settle for anything but the very best (see: Phillies) and this sandwich does not disappoint. A breath-taking achievement, this sandwich is truly worthy of the name Philly Cheesesteak.

44-47 pts: A titillating Cheesesteak.
This sandwich is nearing perfection and is delicious on all accounts. If you go to this restaurant, don't settle for a French Dip, demand the Philly Cheesesteak, you will not be disappointed.

38-43 pts: An admirable Cheesesteak.
This sandwich should not be dismissed, it is not the perfect Cheesesteak, but it is still better than anything else on the menu. Don't pass up this opportunity to enjoy a delicious dinner.

30-37 pts: An average Cheesesteak.
It is familiar, ordinary, tolerable. Not worth planning an outing to go and eat this sandwich, stay home and make your own Philly classic instead and save your money.

20-29 pts: A crappy Cheesesteak.
Not the worst thing you'll taste, but certainly not worthy of the Philly Cheesesteak title, this sandwich will inescapably leave you disappointed. There are bigger and better Cheesesteaks out there, do not settle for this tomfoolery!

19pts or below: A sinful Cheesesteak.
This sandwich is so disgusting you'll expect them to bring out an accompanying cup of Au Jus. Avoid this sandwich, for it will only taint the privileged Philly Cheesesteak name. You can't do worse than this abhorrent creation, shame on any restauranteur serving this abomination!

The standards are high, but now that the guidelines have been set, let's get eating!
“Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death, but Cheesesteaks instead.” - William Shakespeare


  1. Our sandwiches are nothing alike! There is no overlap in our target demographics! Viva la Philly Cheesesteak!

  2. You a poser of a reviewer and a wannabe. You know that every idea on this blog is stolen from the one true hoagie bread meaty sandwich reviewing blog,