NYC Dept of Health Restaurant Grading – Why B is Fine With Me

Today’s NYTarticle on why restaurants suffer lower Health Department ratings to servefood the way it is intended is right in my line of thinking.
I don’t really care if my sushi chef doesn’t wear gloves (asin Sushi Yashuda, a world-renownedrestaurant), I see him washing and wiping his hands and food surfaces multipletimes an hour.
 If my liver terrine is going to be tasteless cold then I’drather go to a B restaurant and have it served at room temperature the way it’ssupposed to be served, as with cooking meats and steaks.
The NYC Department of Health restaurantscoring guidelines do a fine enough job weeding out blatant violators androdent-infested dumps, but adhering strictly to the rules does not make arestaurant great. I’d really rather dine at a B than an A restaurant if itmeans they’ve sacrificed the grade in order to do things right.
Besides, the system is not exempt from most in that itcan be bought. According to a Per Se waiter’srevelation in NY Magazine:
With the recentDepartment of Health crackdowns, those letter grades are bought—by that, I meanevery restaurant that has an Ahas either an in-house specialist or a specialist they’ve hired. Before the DOHinspections, every high-end restaurant has four or five in-house inspections,and then everyone has their own set of fire drills—you put on hats and gloveswhen the inspector comes, you hide things away.

The recentreport of NYC restaurants’ grades just show how ridiculous the ratingsystem is:
% of NYC Restaurants
69% – A
15% – B
4% – C
12% – pending
I find it hard to believe that almost 70% of New York City restaurantstruly have an A rating. I’ve also seen a lot of grimy places touting that A ontheir windows.
Also, the following violations could merit the restaurant aB or lower rating:
1)      Servingkimchi at room temperature – violates the rule that cold foods must be servedat 41 C or lower, which is ridiculous because fermented food like Koreanpickled products have been prepared and stored that way for centuries. The lowacid level keeps everything in check.
2)      Notwearing gloves during food prep – this includes making sushi, tacos andburritos, and other tasks requiring fine handling. If we follow these rulesthen Michelin-starred Chef’sTable at Brooklyn Fare should get a B. Ain’t nobody wearin’ gloves inthere.
3)      Servingmeat with a temperature lower than 165 C – forget medium rare steaks andperfect pieces of chicken or pork. A medium rare steak’s internal temperatureshould only be 130-140C. Peter Luger’s would fail!
4)      Keepingmeat at room temperature right before cooking. DOH believes it should go fromfreezer/fridge to pan or pot.
5)      Keepingice cream above 41 degrees, like when warming at room temperature beforeserving.
6)      Keepingsoft cheeses at room temperature or higher. Forget about your warm brie!
7)      Asa general rule, keeping perishables between 41C and 140F, the so-called “Danger Zone.”

You can search a particular restaurant’s grade and list ofviolations here.

More here on how Restaurant Letter Grades Make Your Food Worse.

****UPDATE**** A commenter below lead me to finding this “A” graded restaurant which was found to have evidence of live mice. Read more here.

All text and photos by unless otherwise indicated. ©2012

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  1. Pingback: Evidence of Live Mice in an "A" Graded NYC Restaurant |

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