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A legendary 86-year-old food critic brings together a collection of the best down-home, no-nonsense restaurant reviews-from Red Lobster to Le Bernadin-culled from her fifty year careerWriting for her local North Dakota newspaper, the Grand Forks Herald since 1957, Marilyn Hagerty went from obscurity to overnight sensation in 2012 when her earnest, admiring review of a locaA legendary 86-year-old food critic brings together a collection of the best down-home, no-nonsense restaurant reviews-from Red Lobster to Le Bernadin-culled from her fifty year careerWriting for her local North Dakota newspaper, the Grand Forks Herald since 1957, Marilyn Hagerty went from obscurity to overnight sensation in 2012 when her earnest, admiring review of a local Olive Garden went viral. Among the denizens of the food world-obsessive gastronomes who celebrate Alice Waters and Michael Pollan, revere all things artisanal, and have made kale salad a staple on upscale urban menus-Hagerty's review ignited a fiery debate over the state of American culture. Anthony Bourdain defended Hagerty as an authentic voice of the larger American culture-one that is not dictated by the biases of the food snobbery that define the coasts.In this refreshing, unpretentious collection that includes more than 200 reviews culled from a voluminous archive spanning over fifty years, Hagerty reveals how most Americans experience the pleasure of eating out. Bourdain hails Grand Forks as, "a history of American dining-in the vast spaces between the jaded palates and professional snarkologists of the privileged coasts-as told by one hard working small city journalist. . . . We watch American dining change over time, in baby steps. Traditional regional Scandinavian giving way to big chains, first iterations of sushi, early efforts at hipster chic. Part Fargo, part Lake Woebegone. It's the antidote to snark. This book kills cynics dead."...

Title : Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 Reviews
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ISBN : 9780062228895
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 256 Pages
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Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 Reviews Reviews

  • Joanna
    2019-02-21 03:26

    Marilyn Hagerty is not a remarkable food critic, and Grand Forks, North Dakota is not really a hub of restaurant culture. But what makes this book so interesting is story that is captured over time - twenty five years of reviews are included here - about dining in America. In the early years, it's all about Blue Plate Specials, pot pies, and local specialties of Norwegian and Germanic cuisine. [I freely admit to being previous unaware of lefse (a soft flat potato bread) and lutefisk (fish steeped in lye?!) before I picked up this book.] Then, slowly, the names of chain restaurants begin to encroach. Taco Bell (a cool pastel oasis, per Mrs. Hagerty), Subway (where you have to make too many choices), and Dairy Queen are among the first to appear. They are later joined by McDonalds, Red Lobster, Wendy's, Arby's, Applebee's. The heartbreaking element of this picture is written in the epigraphs following each review, how many of the small family owned businesses are no longer in business, and how many of the chains are still operating and thriving in the area. Marilyn Hagerty reviews every new restaurant in town. She goes to the chains, she revisits old favorites, she looks into the restaurants that operate out of truck stops, meals served at the VFW, local dinner theater offerings, and everything in between. Her writing style reminds me of Dot Weems' bulletins in Fried Green Tomatoes and the Whistle Stop Cafe. (Sample observation: "Pretty good. That's exactly what Constant Companion says when he is pleased with something. Men don't get exuberant." ) She is folksy and plain spoken. She tells you what she likes (white table linens, cloth napkins, servers who do not swoop in to clear your plates before everyone in the party is done eating) and what she doesn't (spelling errors on menus, overly salty soup, plastic silverware).Through it all, she has a politeness that I associate with my grandmother's generation, a desire to accentuate the positive in any experience, instead of dwelling on the minuses of any particular restaurant experience. She's also not a genuinely adventurous eater (if a Rueben or a club sandwich is on the menu, she may not need to look further for her order) but she is genuinely engaged in the enterprise of food reporting as she tries lavosh bread for the first time, or orders a chickpea curry, and even - towards the end of the book - octopus while in New York. When she doesn't seem to like the food she might describe it as "good enough" or "adequate" and then quickly move on to describing the restaurant's decor in detail. The book also winds up being an unintentional chronicle of life in Grand Forks both before and after the flood that ravaged this area of North Dakota in 1997. And a chronicle of Marilyn Hagerty's life before and after the death - during the year they spend in Bismarck while Grand Forks was recovering from the devastation - of her husband and Constant Companion. You get a sense of her pluck as she goes out for new meals with friends old and new after she gets back to town. Although this is a book that is composed entirely of restaurant reviews, it captures so much more in its pages. The only reason that I am not giving this book five stars is that I think less might have been more in terms of some of the inclusions here. Her unaffected style is great, but over the course of 128 reviews, starts to seem a bit repetitive towards the end. But, as we are likely to see the end of daily printed newspapers in my lifetime, it makes me unaccountably happy that Marilyn Hagerty and her Eatbeat column can still exist in this world. She is one of the last of her breed, and I really enjoyed her company over the course of this collection.

  • Laura
    2019-02-25 06:32

    Marilyn Hagerty is the first to say she's not a reviewer or a food critic. Her Eatbeat column in the Grand Forks Herald is just that, a recounting of her culinary encounters in and around Grand Forks, North Dakota. She visits each restaurant a few times, usually with friends in tow. She doesn't hide who she is--in a town of 55,000, she probably couldn't--but she doesn't accept free meals, either.Marilyn's writing is straightforward and factual. She lets you know her opinions about oversalted soups and sloppy coleslaw, but she doesn't pretend that these are anything more than her opinion. You taste the food with her tastebuds and see everything with her eyes.It's easy to see why Internet snark police thought Marilyn's polite but unenthusiastic column on Grand Forks's first Olive Garden was hilarious. If you don't get that it's a personal experience column and not a review, it seems weird to devote ink to the Olive Garden. In context, near the end of these 128 chronologically arranged reviews, you can see that her writeup damns it with faint praise.I was surprised that the frequently snippy Anthony Bourdain loved Marilyn's Eatbeat columns so. His introduction talks about watching the lutefisk and walleye gradually disappear from menus, and seeing chain restaurants such as Red Lobster and Ruby Tuesday overtake the mom-and-pop lunch spots. He seems to understand that the Eatbeat columns make a time-lapse movie of dining out in a Midwestern university town. He seems to respect them, and Marilyn, for that.The form of the book disappointed me. I didn't expect the multiple-column newspaper layout to remain, but the articles feel sort of dumped into the book. Editorial notes follow some, but not all, of the articles. It took me a while to realized that the notes appear only after the last article about a given restaurant. The notes aren't consistent, either. Some have quotes from Marilyn, some give details about business closures, and some just say that the restaurant continues to operate or no longer operates in Grand Forks. It feels uneven.The biggest disappointment for me was the lack of any kind of index or table of contents. I realize that few people will use this as a guidebook to eating in Grand Forks, and that's fine. But that inconsistency in the notes wouldn't have bugged me so much if it were explained in an editor's note, or if a TOC or index could clue me in that I'd see another article on the same restaurant later in the book. It doesn't seem like a serious treatment of a book that's billed as a historical document.All in all, Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 Reviews is a pleasant read and an interesting series of snapshots. It's nostalgic for small-town Midwesterners and an education for anyone who considers the Midwest a flyover zone.

  • Bookworm
    2019-03-16 03:24

    If you think her name sounds familiar, it might be because she wrote a review of the Olive Garden in Grand Forks in 2012 that went viral. This book is basically what it says: 128 of her reviews, including that infamous Olive Garden one. :) However, it really isn't a history of American dining: I'd say 80% of her reviews are on American-focused cuisine at Grand Forks (or area) restaurants. Others are a smattering of Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Native American reviews. There are also reviews from MN and NY, but those are very few.It's not great literature, but that's the point. I really found her style of reviewing refreshing: it was like talking to someone who might be a friend instead of a food critic in say The New York Times or The Los Angeles Times, etc. She goes to a restaurant, quite often with a friend (initially her husband, but after he dies and even before then other family and friends often join her), orders food, talks about the prices and quality, and often makes observations about the other diners, wait staff and even the owners.It was more personal and less pretentious. It strikes me as a contrast with former food critic Ruth Reichl, who wrote 3 hilarious books about her journey as a food critic and personal life. I love Reichl's books, but she was obviously reviewing for a very different set of restaurants for a very different audience. Marilyn really lets her reviews do the talking and that's nice.What I found both hilarious and sad was how she relates the prices. Although I've never been to Grand Forks or North Dakota, I almost wanted to laugh and/or cry at how cheap eating out used to be, chain stores or otherwise. Around the mid to late 90's did I start seeing prices for items that seems more reflective of prices today.There is also sometimes a sad little note at the end of some of the reviews that discuss the fate of the restaurants. Many close, some due to a flood in 1997 and a few due to health code violations. However, some have no note and it is unsurprising to see many of the chains she wrote about in the 90's are apparently still operating.Perhaps the author has had her 15 minutes, but I was happy to support her in buying this book. However, it's probably not of much interest unless you happen to live and/or will visit the area or for those who want to look at restaurant reviewing as a profession. Browse at the bookstore or library first.

  • Amy
    2019-03-09 07:25

    This was great, And not just because she's a North Dakotan! I really enjoyed her writing style, and am only disappointed that I can't check some of these places out.

  • Rhiannon
    2019-03-13 04:48

    The sameness grew tedious and I resorted to skimming towards the end.

  • Sarah
    2019-02-20 07:38

    Haters to the left. Marilyn is a treasure.

  • Lauren
    2019-02-26 08:47

    "What point, I wonder, is there in tearing down some hardworking restaurant people? Sometimes I point out pluses and minuses. And if a place is just too bad, I move on. I don’t write about it."Marilyn Hagerty is a national treasure, a five star gem, in a world of Negative Nancys. I imagine her column is enjoyable to read in the local paper but, a compilation of these reviews is a bit much. The most interesting thing here is following the dining and financial trends through the years as local gives way to big chains. See, the apparently (in)famous Olive Garden review that led to this book.

  • Heidi Campbell
    2019-02-18 03:37

    A cute little book, written by a sweet little lady that I would loved to have met. I would chuckle to myself every once in a while because she had such a cute sense of humor. I love how she called her husband CC, meaning constant companion. She made the simplest meals sound pretty good, never getting too fancy.

  • Betsy
    2019-02-17 04:22

    The most Midwestern book I will ever read.

  • Nan at HungryEnoughToEatSix.com
    2019-02-28 08:30

    For my birthday this year my kids gave me this book: ‘Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 Reviews’ by Marilyn Hagerty. They discovered it in a small bookstore in downtown Burlington, and recognized Anthony Bourdain’s name on the cover (he wrote the foreword and the book was published under his imprint, Ecco Press) as an author/chef that I’ve read before.Marilyn Hagerty writes for the Grand Forks Herald in Grand Forks, ND. She writes five columns each week including the “Eat Beat” column where she reviews the local restaurants in Grand Forks. She has been writing this restaurant column for over 25 years. ‘Grand Forks’ is a collection of her reviews.Bourdain’s foreword mentions Marilyn Hagerty’s infamous 15 minutes of fame back in 2012 when her review of a newly-opened Olive Garden in Grand Forks went viral. I had not heard of this incident so I checked it out on the interwebs. Her simple, straightforward and positive review of the Olive Garden became the target of snarky, rude tweets and Facebook re-posts.Basically, people made fun of her quiet praise of this new Olive Garden in her town, and from there they moved on to some of her other local reviews. Happily the story does not end here, as a wave of positivity overtook the wave of snark. Thousands of people and the media took notice and came to her defense. She landed interviews on The Today Show and NPR. Then Anthony Bourdain swooped in to laud her years of local restaurant reviews, arranged for her to dine at La Bernardin in New York City, and made plans to work with her on a book – this book!When I read this book it makes me think of the places I used to go out to eat with my grandparents. And with Christian’s grandparents. Those small, local restaurants that exist for years and years without ever really changing the food or the decor. The food is good but not pretentious, and our grandparents used to look forward to essentially the same things every time: soups, half-sandwiches, brunches with steam tables holding French toast, eggs and bacon.Hagerty’s reviews include places like these plus truck stops, diners, family restaurants, and other chains in the Grand Forks area such as Shakey’s, Player’s, Dairy Queen, and even McDonalds. Hagerty’s reviews are straightforward, simple, kind. She shares the prices of dishes she tries and a bit of what else is on the menu. She likes to share about the folks dining with her – her “constant companion”, friends, children. She is not harsh or critical, and she is not out to skewer anyone. Occasionally a review will mention something about a dish or about the establishment that could use a change. There have also been one or two dry-humored jabs at misspellings on menus.In the book she says, “What point, I wonder, is there in tearing down hard-working restaurant people? And if a place is just too bad, I move on.” In a Wall Street Journal article titled “When Mom Goes Viral” her son James R. Hagerty shared, “If she writes more about the décor than the food, you might want to eat somewhere else.”I have eaten in many, many more places like the ones reviewed in Hagerty’s book than in upscale, trendy, and wickedly expensive restaurants more likely to be reviewed online or in our local Burlington-area papers. And the food in these restaurants is good! Filling, comforting and affordable. This food is a lot more like the food I tend to cook at home and the recipes I share in this blog. It’s for this reason that I tend not to think of myself as a foodie. I just love good food, and I love to share good food with people I care about. For these reasons I am enjoying Hagerty’s reviews and her observations of the people and trends in her town.

  • Jeff Swystun
    2019-03-06 08:28

    In early 2012 something extraordinary happened in Grand Forks, North Dakota. After a long wait, residents were treated to the opening of their first Olive Garden. For the town of 55,000 that was a big deal. The Grand Forks Herald thought the same and dispatched their 85-year-old columnist, Marilyn Hagerty to provide a review. This is something she had been doing since 1957.That review went viral. Soon she was attacked online by the jaded and snobby for what is described in Anthony Bourdain's Foreward, as a "guileless" review. That review is included in this book and my summation is it is helpful, fair, quaint but entirely innocuous. It was hardly deserving of such spiteful criticism so it was wonderful when others rose to support her with "an even stronger antisnark backlash". This attention led to TV appearances and a publishing deal. I am so happy this happened for her.I have a small connection to Grand Forks. Having grown up in Winnipeg, my family would often to travel to Grand Forks (and Fargo) for exotic winter getaways and luxury shopping at Target in the 1970's and 80's. We would often eat at the John Barleycorn restaurant in Columbia Mall (I remember the mall's advertising jingle..."Meet me in Columbia Mall!"). Mrs. Hagerty mentions that dining spot and another I discovered later when I took a date down to Grand Forks for a romantic weekend around 1998 (yes I am cosmopolitan). We visited the Red River Cafe which would subseqently be flooded as would much of Grand Forks by the namesake river. There I had the best sautéed mushroom appetizer I have ever eaten.So this collection of reviews was a treat to read. Hegarty visits specialty restaurants, chains, fast food and everything else. As she points out, over her career single location restaurants have been pushed out and chains now dominate the food landscape in her fair town. Her column is called Eatbeat and it sets out to tell her readers the basic facts about her dining experience. It is factual and politely conversational. Her prose is sparse and to the point. She often brings pals who she names. Consider the following examples:- I like the menu. It's varied. It's clever. And it's easy to read.- It's fun sitting in a place where truck drivers mingle as they wait for a load of potatoes to carry south, or east.- On my second visit to Red Lobster, I met Gladys Keig for lunch. We both ordered soup and Caesar salad.- We were glad we approached Applebee's at 5 P.M. for supper rather than waiting until 6 P.M. By then it was buzzing, and people were waiting for tables.- I ordered the walleye ($7.25), the reason why many people go to the Ramada.You may have gleamed from these charming, small town snippets that Hegarty often reviews the same restaurants, that truck stops to hotel dining are included, and that chains most of us find unworthy of a review get her same treatment. Reviews include those for the Chuck House Ranch Restaurant in the Westward Ho Motel, Sonja's Hus in the Regency Inn, the Tomahawk Cafe, Big Sioux Truck Stop Cafe, Big Al's Pasta Parlor, Red Lobster, Quizno's, Stormy Sledster's, Great Wall Buffet, and KFC. Perhaps my favourites were her review of the East Side Dairy Queen and the Royal Fork Buffet. I once experienced the latter and consider Hegarty's review as generous as the portion sizes you could serve yourself.To be a bit snarky, it is ambitious to call this "A History of American Dining in 128 Reviews" but it is definitely great source material for such a history. And it is gratifying to see a woman who worked diligently and accurately for both restaurant and patrons to receive this attention and acclaim. Finally, could the town's name not fit better for such a book?

  • Jackie
    2019-02-17 04:24

    Just Finished (11) Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 Reviews by Marilyn HagertyIt was the Summer from Hell.In 1987 after my junior year, I attended summer school at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks to pick up linguistics and statistics courses. I lived alone in my brother Jeff's married housing apartment. My only family members in town were off traveling, and my sole Jamestown College friend was living with her dying grandmother. My boyfriend at the time lived in Wahpeton, at least three hours away, and he had somehow forgotten I even existed. I had contact with humans for possibly two hours a day and quite probably had a mild eating disorder. It was, in fact, the worst months of my life.I have one fond memory of that time. When I first arrived in town, Jeff took me to a sandwich shop called Fat Albert's (real name or a memory?) for a turkey sandwich that had an amazing white sauce. If I had been reading Marilyn Hagerty's weekly food column in the Grand Forks Herald, maybe there would have been more happy food memories. Or any happy memories.Marilyn is the reporter whose review of the Olive Garden went viral in 2012. That parlayed into a book deal and national fame. http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/lifestyle...She doesn’t claim to be a food critic. Her reviews are factual, giving observations on décor, pricing, parking, state of the toilets, skimpy napkins, sizes and shapes of plates, waitress uniforms, etc. I never read a review and thought, “Wow! That food was amazing!” Out of all the reviews, only two restaurants sounded truly interesting.If she doesn’t like the fare, more of the comments will be directed toward everything but the food. And her criticisms are gentle, “But no place is perfect. The second booth in the dining room is squeaky. And avocado is spelled wrong on the late-night menu.”The book is a social history of sorts. Most of the first reviews from the late1980s visit small independent cafes and supper clubs. Some reviews contain an update at the end – which have closed and reopened, which were destroyed in the Great Food of 1997, etc. By the end of the book, she is most often visiting national chains that had finally made it to the Forks. She even reviews KFC, Quiznos and McDonalds.You can watch the evolution of food trends – from lavosh to buffalo chicken to molten chocolate desserts and, wait for it, the arrival of sushi and Thai food. But because it’s eastern North Dakota, there’s lots of mention of lutefisk, lefse and krumkakke.For me, the reviews were a nostalgic walk through familiar territory – many restaurants that had chains across North Dakota when I was growing up - Happy Joe’s, Mexican Village, Shakey’s Pizza and Paradiso.And in true “Six Degrees of North Dakota Separation,” my sister is acquainted with Marilyn’s daughter Gail who is mentioned often in the reviews.The reviews may feel satiric, but they are really one woman’s honest appraisal of what to expect when dining in the area’s restaurants. They are comforting, just like homemade mashed potatoes and gravy.

  • Linda
    2019-03-12 02:24

    For someone who grew up near Grand Forks, reading this book made me nostalgic and hungry for some of my former haunts. Toppers, Players, the exploded pig at the 42nd Street Eatery--these are all gone now and it was pleasant to reminisce about these places.Of course, growing up in the area, I've been reading Marilyn's columns for 30+ years. It was a big deal when she visited our small-town cafe (though that review did not make it into the book, sadly).Would someone who's not from Grand Forks enjoy this book? Maybe. I found it interesting to see how prices have changed over time, and trends in food (low-fat, etc.). The back clover blurb uses the word "hilarious," but I missed the mark on that one. Maybe it's just because I'm used to Marilyn's writing style and how straightforward it is.Marilyn's reviewed a lot of restaurants over the years, so it began to be frustrating to read the third and fourth columns about the same place (Sanders comes to mind). There could have been more variety in the columns chosen to publish in the book. Also, as a local, I would have liked to have had the restaurant's street address included with each one. I had a hard time picturing the locations of many of the restaurants that are no longer there.I appreciated knowing what happened to some of the restaurants (Players closed because of code non-compliance?) and which ones are still there. There are a few I will seek out on future trips back home.This was a good read for at the hospital or doctor's office when I just had snippets of time to read. It's not something I'd pick up and read cover-to-cover. It's not compelling like that. It is, however, a decent read if you want to get a cross-section of restaurant culture in what is described as a small town (though one of the largest in the state). Not everyone has gourmet restaurants and stores on every corner, and is that such a bad thing? If you're from Grand Forks, read this for the local connection. If you're not from Grand Forks, you'll likely find it much less interesting.

  • Beth
    2019-03-18 02:47

    I lived in Grand Forks for about five years after I got out of college, and subscribed to the Grand Forks Herald. I recalled Marilyn Hagerty's name from the paper, and was delighted to see her review of the new Olive Garden in Grand Forks go viral a few years back. This book consists of her reviews of various restaurants in and around Grand Forks, and they are a complete hoot, because she is so honestly guileless and kind in her words. "Minnesota Nice" has got nothin' on Marilyn. She reviews everything from Sanders 1907 (probably the nicest restaurant in Grand Forks) to the east side Dairy Queen and Wendy's. She is always honest in her assessments, but her criticisms are said in a very kind way. She really appreciates glasses made of actual glass, cloth napkins or thick paper napkins, and she doesn't like it when the wait staff is TOO attentive. I remember a few of the restaurants from my time there, but many of them were wiped out in the flood of '97. You might recall stories on the news that showed downtown Grand Forks flooded but on fire. It was horrible, but no one lost their life in the flood. It was a little heartbreaking to read about so many places lost to the flood waters. Marilyn continues to write, and Grand Forks continues on. I plan on keeping this book handy for when I need a little pick-me-up on a bad day. I don't know how anyone can read her reviews without being totally charmed.

  • Alex
    2019-03-15 02:41

    I don't know that I can assign it a specific number of stars, so I won't.Ms. Hagerty's reviews are wonderful. I'm not sure that 200+ pages of them was required or beneficial, however, to get the point. She has, especially in the earlier reviews, a delightful way of describing a place such that you get a true feel for what it would be like to go there. You can appreciate what it physically looks like and have a mental picture of the location and the sorts of folks in there. If the goal of writing a restaurant review is to give you an idea of what it would be like to eat there--so that you can decide if you want to go--A+ to her.But about half of the reviews should have been removed. No one cares about the specifics of some restaurant that closed down 20 years ago. The point is to get the feel for living in Grand Forks, ND, and that can be accomplished in a more shorter compilation.Not to put in a spoiler, but Ms. Hagerty's husband dies halfway through the book. It's referenced by, in effect, a footnote. But you can feel a tremendous change, and a real absence, despite any mention of it. In my mind, that--and the Red River Flood, also spoken of only tangentially--and the changes in style are what make this a truly fascinating book.Or, put another way, as an editor, Anthony Bourdain sucks.

  • Breana
    2019-03-13 04:33

    I picked up Grand Forks just because I happened to come across a copy, and decided to just go ahead and buy it. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading 237 pages worth of reviews about restaurants and food, written by Marilyn Hagerty.I liked how the reviews centered largely on Hagerty’s community restaurant scene, and how some of the places were reviewed more than once. On the surface, Grand Forks doesn’t appear to tell the history of much. But, actually, it was kind of a history of American dining. One of the earlier reviews in Grand Forks comes from 1987. So, 1987 all the way up until 2012. That’s a long enough time to establish some kind of history. As the book progressed, it kind of illustrated the changing times in Hagerty’s community. New restaurants opened, old favorites closed down or altered their menus and dining rooms—while some things almost stayed basically the same.So, Grand Forks was a very entertaining read. I liked it a lot.Review First Posted Here

  • Lisa Urso
    2019-02-27 02:28

    If you're looking for a volume on the best in food criticism, then this is not for you. Then again, Marilyn Hagerty freely admits she is not a food critic, but a reporter. That, and there aren't too many restaurants in the Grand Forks/East Grand Forks area. Some of the restaurants have been reviewed three or four times in the course of this book.That said, what makes this book fascinating is the gradual change in the restaurants being reviewed. They go from mom-and-pop blue plate places, to chain restaurants by the end. It's also neat to see history itself unfold throughout the course of this work. You see how Marilyn's husband, known as Constant Companion, is a fixture in the earlier reviews. And you'll also see how the Flood of 1997, when the Red River all but decimated the town, affected the local economy.Bottom line, this is a great volume for historical reference, but not necessarily for studying food critiques.

  • Rogue Reader
    2019-02-17 04:36

    As much the story of Marilyn Hagerty's daily life in Grand Forks as it is a culinary history of the city, Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 Reviews is a delight to read. A selected compilation of Hagerty's newspaper columns, the reviews range from the local diner, Dairy Queen, various incarnations of theme restaurants in the same location and ethnic eateries. She'll touch nicely on service, place settings and of course the food. If something's off, there's a mild one liner commenting on the miss. Down to earth and fun to read, it's interesting to reflect on the critical storm that Hagerty's Olive Garden review raised, and Hagerty's pleasant nature in the spotlight. Lovely that Anthony Bourdain selected the reviews and wrote the introduction, putting the work into context of American foodways.

  • Molly Zeigler
    2019-02-23 10:25

    Good sort of 'bathroom read' - collection of reviews spanning decades. There is a sense of continuity and community history. Hagerty's tone, at first, is refreshing and simple. I like her references to friends and her 'Constant Companion.' I'm not sure I hang all the 'post-modern' meaning on this...yeah, so it's 'un-ironic' and straightforward...but they are just reviews and after a bit it all sounds the same. The famous Olive Garden review is cute...I guess. I'm of two minds here - I can see how there is something to reviewing a chain straightforwardly and how it examines the very act of food and cultural review....but, I don't think that was the writer's intent (sorry to tread there). It's a nice, rather bland (but enjoyable because of it) collection.

  • Andrea
    2019-03-02 07:36

    A charming collection of restaurant over the years by Marilyn Hagerty, local critic for the Grand Forks, ND region. While Grand Forks lagged a bit behind larger cities in terms of the introduction of ethnic foods and some chain offerings, it is a great representation of America as a whole. Arranged in chronological order, the reviews slowly show us the cultural shift from most meals being made at home to eating out as a way of life rather than a treat. The reviews also show us the broadening of the American palate to include Indian, middle eastern, various Asian and more obscure European cuisines. Fun reading even if I will likely never visit these places.

  • Gretchen
    2019-03-15 09:32

    This is a gimmicky book, sure, but it's also amazing. You get a little glimpse into Hagerty's life and it's both lovely and terribly sad at times (like mentions of the flood of '97 or the sudden disappearance of "Constant Companion," her dining partner that always ordered ribs, a Ruben, or a French dip and rarely the salad option). You also come to know the restaurants, especially the ones she reviews over a period of many years. A lovely portrait of a town and a person through the business of food.

  • Sandy
    2019-03-06 07:47

    I really enjoyed reading this book. It showed how restaurant life evolved on the prairie written by a good hearted woman who enjoys her town, her food and her friends. The evolution from mom and pop eating establishments to chain restaurants was documented with grace and style. Every once in a while some exotic food made its way to North Dakota. It was sad to see the staples of a community depart but then happily be replaced by something new to try. I hope she goes on eating and writing. Marilyn is a treasure.

  • Becky
    2019-02-26 09:40

    Marilyn Hagerty has been writing restaurant reviews in North Dakota's Grand Forks Herald for over 25 years. "Grand Forks" is a compilation of some of those reviews, including her iconic (and hilarious) review of the Grand Forks Olive Garden. As someone who is also a fan of James Lileks' "Gallery of Regrettable Food", I can't wait to read her take on middle-American chow in all its jello-y goodness.

  • Maryellen
    2019-03-04 05:48

    This was an amazing collection of food essays. I love Ms. Hagerty's writing style and I was glad I remembered the infamous Olive Garden interview. In the context of the book, the O.G. review was clearly just what she DOES, leading to a hindsight "why did people make such a big deal about this?" I fell in love with the town and the sweetness of everything and the end reviews of the NYC restaurants she ate at. God Bless Anthony Bourdain for making this available.

  • Amanda Gentry
    2019-02-22 08:42

    I feel bad giving this very nice woman only two stars. Her reviews were very much what I've read in middling-sized cities' newspapers for most of my adult life - generous, personal stories about local restaurants and businesses. Perhaps if I'd lived my life in big cities, these reviews would feel more unique and noteworthy. As it stands, though, I was too uninterested to finish the book.

  • Genine Franklin-Clark
    2019-03-09 08:39

    This is a sweet book by a woman who reviewed Grand Forks,N.D.restaurants for many years. The reviews were always kind and reviewed places from Taco Bell to the "fancier" places in town. The worst she ever had to say was that the soup was" a tad too salty".A lovely little read.

  • Alison
    2019-03-17 06:35

    I think like most people I was expecting food reviews by multiple authors. I enjoyed Marilyn's writing for the sole reason that she writes like my Grandmother did - detailed and simple. After about the 10th review, I felt like I got the picture and was ready for a different book.

  • Nate Axvig
    2019-03-03 04:21

    Sweet and sincere chronicle of eateries from my hometown. I enjoyed Bourdain's introduction which was measured and respectful. A must read for anyone who has lived in Grand Forks.

  • Kathleen
    2019-03-07 06:41

    It becomes very repetitive in the middle third, but the 1997 flood brings in some new restaurants that make the end a bit more interesting again.

  • Lynda
    2019-03-15 06:32

    After all the hype, I was disappointed.