After her deadpan review of a Grand Forks, N.D., Olive Garden went viral, Marilyn Hagerty became an Internet sensation in her own right. But as her new book, Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 Reviews shows, Hagerty has been on the restaurant beat for more than two decades. In his introduction to the book, Anthony Bourdain — who published it under his own Ecco imprint — says, "This book kills snark dead,"
What is especially endearing about Hagerty is her Midwestern charm, so foreign to those of us who hail from the coasts. As she told NPR over the weekend, "I've never really raked anyone over the coals, because I don't know how long my restaurant reviews would last if I did that. After all, I live in a city of 55,000 people."
Below, our favorite morsels of Hagerty's reviews, available in her new book:
Mr. Steak Aims to Be the Gathering Place for Birthdays (November 4, 1987)
Matt was our waiter. I didn't ask Matt his last name, and he didn't ask me my first or last name. He was a good waiter. Friendly, but impersonal...Seating is comfortable.
Royal Fork Serves Sunday Dinners Every Day (September 21, 1988)
All the food has a homemade quality. It reminds me of Sunday dinners we had long ago — before people learned about going out for brunch and ordering in pizza.
Norma's House of Goodies Is Filling Station in the Mall (June 28, 1989)
The soup was too salty for my taste, but it was pretty good. The chunk of meat I found in it was large. Very large.
Mexican Village Buffet Is an Adventure in Cuisine (November 3, 1993)
The paper napkins are fairly good...The restrooms are located, as the sign says, out back....[T]he facilities are clean and adequate.
Sanders Is Cream of Crop (October 13, 2000)
Artsy touches include a permanent floral arrangement in the women's restroom.
Classics Keep Customers Coming Back to Quizno's (March 23, 2001)
This was an excellent sandwich...I like the napkins at Quizno's because they are natural-colored and are made from recycled fibers.
Capone's Puts the G in G-Man (February 1, 2006)
[We enjoyed] the music in the background that helped set the scene of a place full of Chicago gunmen...It adds up to an atmosphere conducive for having fun and eating Italian food.
New Bowl Meals Prove to Be Very Popular at KFC (February 13, 2008)
My food was good. It was hot.