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Mar 8, 2012 07:27 AM

Favorable review of new Olive Garden in Grand Forks, ND

Grand Forks columnist Marilyn Hagerty gives a 100% snark-free review of the new Olive Garden in Grand Forks, ND. I found it refreshing. Though, if I find myself in Grand Forks, I'll be eating elsewhere.

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  1. Years ago I took some summer class at the Unversity in GF. Happy Joes Pizza and Ice Cream parlor was the favorite off-campus spot, especially their 'mexican pizza'. So I'm not surprised that OG got a good review. Note the columnist was well traveled - at least as far as Fargo. :)

    2 Replies
    1. re: paulj

      in the CP interview Graydon links to below, the columnist notes that she has just returned from a trip to florida. i like this interview a lot, the lady is apparently 86 and smart as a whip. when the interviewer tells her, in closing, that "everybody on the internet" is sharing and enjoying her review, she doesn't miss a beat: "I feel they're being rather condescending, but it's OK with me."

      i hope she keeps on being awesome.

      1. re: soupkitten

        I agree. I think she is awesome and knows exactly what her audience wants to know.

        And the C.P. editor was jerkiest of the bunch.


    2. This review has become a thing. Popular websites such as Fark, Gawker and Boingboing posted the story, setting off a barrage of comments via Twitter and Facebook. The Village Voice had a story, too, and even Sports Illustrated's website gave Marilyn's Eatbeat a mention.

      In the first 36 hours it was posted on, her Eatbeat review received about 107,000 views. In comparison, the's second most-read story was about the UND Fighting Sioux nickname, with 5,000 views.

      Interview by Kevin Hoffman of the Twin Cities City Pages:

      1 Reply
      1. re: GraydonCarter

        > This review has become a thing.

        The volume of attention drawn to this single reviewer reminds me of the Improv Everywhere pranks "Best Game Ever" and "Best Gig Ever".

        In Best Game Ever they picked a random little league game and turned it into a major league event, with a large number of "fans" in attendance, painted chests, a jumbotron featuring NBC broadcaster Jim Gray, and the Goodyear Blimp.

        In Best Gig Ever they picked a random rock band that would normally draw just girlfriends and jammed the small club with improv everywhere "groupies". The pranksters had even taken the time to memorize lyrics from the band's songs posted on MySpace.

        I suppose we could do something like this by picking at random an average local mom 'n' pop struggling to make it in this economy and do a chowdown followed by several Chowhound and Yelp reviews.

      2. I think that's kind of sweet. What else would you do in Grand Forks, anyway?

        6 Replies
        1. re: chicgail

          I hear you chicgail. NYC, Boston, Philly smirk at OG; but when I lived in Athens, OH OG would have been a godsend.

          1. re: chicgail

            Looking at my travel journal from the last time through the area (a couple of decades ago), we ate at Chi Chi's Mexican in Grand Forks, Mr & Mrs J's in Devils Lake, and Harry's Ukrainian Kitchen in Brandon, Manitoba.

            1. re: chicgail

              I think it's very sweet, too. So excited about Olive Garden coming to their town! There is a segment of the population that LOVE OG.

              1. re: jeanmarieok

                There isn't the kind of population diversity that would have supported an old school Italian-American place, much less the real-Italian that CHers favor. The pizza place that my college friends favored was better known for its 'mexican pizza' and ice cream than anything really Italian. I'm a little surprised that it was a OG that opened instead of a Buca de Bepo (which had Mpls origins).

                Besides agriculture (esp. sugar beets) the big businesses in the area are an Air Force base and a state university. It is something of a cross roads - an interstate to Winnipeg, and US2 from Duluth to Montana. There is an oil drilling boom in the western part of the state (along US2). That's bringing in money, but I doubt if it will turn ND cities into cultured cities like Houston and Dallas. :)

                1. re: jeanmarieok

                  True. So much so that they refuse to let OG even change their frosted glass salad bowls.

                2. So the San Francisco Chronicle had fun with this story today, which reminded me of a review from the 90s. Prior to taking over the Chronicle, Hearst ran the SF Examiner and their food critic once reviewed a Subway on Ellis and Powell in SF and found it to be to his liking. The rating is missing in the online version, but I seem to remember from the print edition that the critic gave it several stars. (The guy seemed liked he never had a meal in his life that he didn't like.)
                  I like the comment on the ambience: "The overall effect is pleasing but not overwhelming."

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: nocharge

                    What did Jim Wood say that was not true? Subway sold sandwiches on a large scale, and what they offered for the price was Ok with him. By the way, Jim Wood was the critic who took Julia Child to the Viet restaurant Tu Lan that became so infamous in San Francisco.

                    1. re: poser

                      yeah but ever been to Tu Lan? if it's your first time VN gateway yeah it's great. have 2 VN meals elsewhere and you quickly understand why it's always been on 6th street.

                      I like the sentiment to the OG review as posted by TDQ and others - the author was writing for her audience - not me or anybody else. heck if I ever find myself in Grand Forks I might very well eat there.