TODAY   |  August 27, 2013

Viral Olive Garden reviewer tries Cronut: ‘It’s chewy’

Marilyn Hagerty, the writer whose Olive Garden review went viral online, has teamed up with Anthony Bourdain to publish a book called “Grand Forks: A History of American Dining in 128 reviews.” She came on TODAY to chat and try some treats.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> with the columnist who reviewed the olive garden and made her a sensation. but first, this is "today" on nbc.

>>> we're back at 8:50 with the north dakota newspaper columnist who was an instant hit last year with her earnest review of a certain chain restaurant .

>> we'll catch up with her in a moment but first, her story.

>> reporter: she has been a mild mannered reporter since the early 1960s . but she became an overnight sensation last year with her restaurant review of the new olive garden in town. it's fashioned in tus can farmhouse style with a welcoming entry way she wrote adding the chicken alfredo, $10.95 was warm and comforting on a cold day . some on the internet questioned her taste with one headline saying old broad goes viral and adding the city is on the culinary map with it's unique brand of tuscan refinery but anthony bourdain rushed to her defense. watching internet senation marilyn shaggerty triumph. now she pubbishing her book grand forks . it includes more than 100 of her down home reviews.

>> marlin haggerty is with us now. the new group is called grand forks , the history of american dining. it's good to see you.

>> thank you.

>> tell us how your life has changed since you had this review kind of heard around the world.

>> it has been very interesting. it's been fun and actually very crazy. this is like a dream that started and it just goes on. you wake up and you go back to sleep and there's more. and anthony bourdain decided that my reviews told a story of dining in america.

>> he is big time . this is a big deal .

>> yeah.

>> the subtitle is the history of american dining in 128 reviews. what is it about these reviews that teaches us so much about american dining?

>> well, in the first place, i think it shows that we don't all eat at these restaurants. some of us eat at truck stops and we go to mcdonald's and those places are -- we go there because we like them. we like the food and sometimes in smaller markets it's all we have. and also it shows us that i think that the hometown restaurants, the ma and pa restaurants are fewer now because there are more chain restaurants . we're still eating, but we're eating differently.

>> true.

>> a couple of your reviews that jump out. quiznos was an excellent sandwich. about the soup there, good enough but might not have won a blue ribbon at the state fair .

>> well, i try not to be too harsh but i try to be honest. i try to present a picture, an overall picture of what the restaurant is like. and i check out the restrooms because i think that sends a message. if people are good enough to keep their restrooms clean maybe they do the same in their cooking.

>> you even notice when the server, whether or not he tells you the price when he gives you the special.

>> yes.

>> you look at the whole picture.

>> yes. it's the whole dining experience.

>> marilyn, when you look back at all the meals you had and written about is there one meal that stands out, please take this the right way, were it your last meal on earth, that would be the one to go out on?

>> i never sit down and think of that because i eat so much. i think that we do have one restaurant in grand forks which is a very fine dining place and i know joe the chef. and he stands back there and swears.

>> it works.

>> wonderful food.

>> now we have trendy new york items. we have the ramen burger, the cronut and a bagel hole.

>> i've never had that.

>> just a small bite.

>> a cronut.

>> mix of croissant and doughnut.

>> give us your 10 second review.

>> well, it's very chewy. it's very good. i think that i would like it with a cup of coffee maybe. maybe in the afternoon.

>> okay. in the afternoon you can eat more.

>> yeah. by the way, do you think that would make it in north dakota ? would they be big in north dakota .

>> i think a cronut could make it in north dakota but we're quite selective out there, you know.

>> not just any cronut.

>> great to see you again. congratulations on the book. it's called grand forks and you can take this home and see how they like it back home.

>> and the ramen burger as