The following is an excerpt from an actual restaurant review in an actual newspaper, the Grand Forks Herald. I swear, this is not from The Onion or McSweeney’s.
The headline: “Long-awaited Olive Garden receives a warm welcome.” It may be the most simulataneously hilarious and sad local newspaper column involving Olive Garden since the Sioux City Journal hailed the restaurant as a legitimate indicator that it’d hit the big time (“And to Siouxland residents, many of whom consider themselves connoisseurs of fine food, a city is not a city without an Olive Garden. So as of Monday, Sioux City becomes a real city.”).
My first visit to Olive Garden was during midafternoon, so I could be sure to get in. After a late breakfast, I figured a late lunch would be fashionable.
The place is impressive. It’s fashioned in Tuscan farmhouse style with a welcoming entryway. There is seating for those who are waiting.
My booth was near the kitchen, and I watched the waiters in white shirts, ties, black trousers and aprons adorned with gold-colored towels. They were busy at midday, punching in orders and carrying out bread and pasta.
It had been a few years since I ate at the older Olive Garden in Fargo, so I studied the two manageable menus offering appetizers, soups and salads, grilled sandwiches, pizza, classic dishes, chicken and seafood and filled pastas.
At length, I asked my server what she would recommend. She suggested chicken Alfredo, and I went with that. Instead of the raspberry lemonade she suggested, I drank water.
She first brought me the familiar Olive Garden salad bowl with crisp greens, peppers, onion rings and yes — several black olives. Along with it came a plate with two long, warm breadsticks.
The chicken Alfredo ($10.95) was warm and comforting on a cold day. The portion was generous. My server was ready with Parmesan cheese.
This masterpiece of modern food journalism was written by an elderly columnist named Marilyn Hagerty, who apparently writes five columns each week for the Herald, including the “Eat Beat” column. Digging through her archives last night, I found a recent review she did of the food at the local college hockey arena that’s also a gem.
Crazy Bread, Super Pretzels, Dippin’ Dots, cotton candy, bratwursts and beer. Popcorn, prime rib sandwiches, freshly roasted almonds. If you can dream it, you can find anything that suits your fancy at the UND Sioux hockey games.
“If you can dream it, you can find anything that suits your fancy.” Awwww…it’s like our kindly grandma is writing for the local paper.
America, I think we just found your next great food writer. F*ck Pete Wells — get this woman in the pages of the New York Times before she dies. Marilyn Hagerty or GTFO!!!