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Marilyn Hagerty has been writing the Eatbeat column for North Dakota's Grand Forks Herald for "30 or 40 years," and the 86-year-old journalist is now receiving national attention for her review of the most hotly-anticipated new restaurant to hit Grand Forks in years: The Olive Garden.

In today's column, Hagerty called the chain "the largest and most beautiful restaurant now operating in Grand Forks," praising the Tuscan decor as "impressive" and the alfredo as "comforting on a cold day."

Hagerty's review brought in hundreds of times the traffic of a usual Thursday column, prompting the paper to post a follow-up story about her newfound viral fame.

They explained to readers that "residents of more metropolitan areas found it amusing that a chain restaurant would be reviewed. In larger markets, newspaper reviews are reserved for exclusive, high-end eateries that offer fine dining."

Hagerty said her daughter wanted her to read all the Facebook comments about her review, but "I told her I'm working on my Sunday column and I'm going to play bridge this afternoon, so I don't have time to read all this crap."

The joke may be on the people making fun of Hagerty, though. According to a former editor at the Herald, her seemingly glowing assessment of the Olive Garden was anything but.

"By the way, her regular readers will recognize that as a fairly negative review since she spent a lot more time on the ambience than the food," he said.

[eater / grandforksherald / villagevoice]

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