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Todd Kliman Takes on Marilyn Hagerty, Starred Reviews

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In his online chat today, Washingtonian critic Todd Kliman took on the two most pressing issues facing restaurant critics this week: the viral sensation that is North Dakota Olive Garden-reviewing restaurant critic Marilyn Hagerty and the Los Angeles Times' decision to dump star ratings for reviews — a subject taken on by many of his counterparts across the country. So what does Kliman think about these very important issues?

On Marilyn Hagerty: "I'm still trying to figure out why she's such a sensation. After some conversation over dinner last night and some more thinking about it later -- really, too much cogitation wasted on something so insignificant -- I've decided that all the to-do about her and this review stems from BOTH an un-ironic and an ironic embrace."

On Marilyn Hagerty vs. Todd Kliman's Mom: "I will say that my own mother, who is 84, and has written several reviews for this publication -- see: Dining with the Critic's Mother -- wipes the floor with Hagerty when it comes to critiquing. And probably living, too. But that's another day, another point."

Why Stars Are Bad: "I guess it goes without saying that as a critic, who reveres words, I want people to read what I have to say, and think about it, or savor it, or what have you, without the filter, as it were, that starring in a sense creates. Not to read the words to see how a place earned those stars, but to read, period."

Why Stars Are Good: "They make it easier to look at a lot of options at a glance. They generate conversation. Not everyone is a food lover; not everyone savors the words in a review; not everyone lives to know what new places are out there, and why they're good and what they mean and the context they occupy, etc. They just want to eat well."

So there you have it. Two sides to everything and Todd Kliman's mom is great at life.

· Kliman Online [The Washingtonian]
· Grand Forks Olive Garden Called 'Impressive' by Critic [-EN-]
· The LA Times Dumps Starred Restaurant Reviews [-EN-]