Pass the breadsticks!
Marilyn Hagerty, an 87-year-old restaurant critic from Grand Forks, North Dakota, whose straightforward, unpretentious review of her local Olive Garden went viral two years ago and turned her into an insta-celeb in the food world, has penned another review of a popular chain restaurant.
This time, the Grand Forks Herald columnist has turned her sights on Ruby Tuesday. Her column, titled, “It’s easy to go light or full at Ruby Tuesday,” is written in her typical unassuming style, with lots of detailed observations.
On the baked ravioli: “It arrived in a hot — very hot — state, and I approached it with caution.”
On the price of drinks: “I found the fountain drinks are $2.49, which seems like a going rate in these times. Still, it keeps me on a water course.”
On the decor: “I was interested in the tables that look square but have leaves on all four sides that can be turned up to create a round table. The restaurant has appealing art and is tastefully decorated.”
Since 2012, Hagerty has enjoyed a career that would make any food journalist envious. Not only has she continued her restaurant columns for The Herald, she’s been a judge on Top Chef, published a book with Anthony Bourdain’s help, and received the Al Neuharth Award for excellence in journalism (past recipients have included Garrison Keillor and Walter Cronkite).
In the foreword to the book, Bourdain praised her as a valuable part of the food canon and called her work “a fascinating picture of dining in America, a gradual, cumulative overview of how we got from there … to here.”
And she’s expanded her restaurant repertoire a bit beyond local Midwestern spots. After Hagerty visited Le Bernadin, chef Eric Ripert Tweeted to her, “Honored by ur visit Bon Appetit.”
When her Olive Garden review was published, there was lots of snarky backlash from people who criticized her lowbrow taste and earnest writing style, but this time the response has been more positive:
But Hagerty is no one-trick pony. Along with her regular restaurant reviews, she also writes opinion and general news pieces. Diehard Hagerty fans should check out her author archive, which includes her thoughts about Shirley Temple (“This past week, I have been drawn to stories about the death of Shirley Temple. Kids these days never have heard of her.”) and a story about students at a nearby cosmetology school (“As a child, Heather used to sit in her room fixing hair on a Barbie doll. When she is out and among people, she finds herself studying their hair”).
Which brings us to the question: What restaurant do you want her to review next?