It’s enough to make you barf before you even take a bite of your $23 mac and cheese.
Because of a technicality in the law, restaurants can stay open despite accumulating a sickening amount of Health Department violations.
Take the popular upscale 5 Ninth in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, with a combined 94 violation points since 2009 — the fourth highest of any city restaurant that’s been allowed to remain open.
The restaurant, which, in addition to its pricey macaroni, serves $26 scallops and $27 stuffed pork chops, has been cited for problems including workers touching food with bare hands, evidence of dead or live mice and conditions “conducive to attracting vermin.”But it can keep serving its $32 grilled peppercorn rib-eye because it has not received a failing grade of 28 violation points three times in a row. It manages to follow up flunking scores with passing grades.
The latest inspection “was a bit of a wakeup call,” said hostess Juna Skenderi. She blamed the ex-chef and said she expects to do much better on the next Health Department inspection.
Leading the list is Brooklyn’s Crystal Manor, a Flatbush Avenue catering hall cited for no hand-washing facility near the food preparation area and improper use of pesticides, according to the Health Department.
It has a combined 106 violation points since 2009, according to the agency.
“I am a bit surprised that they have such a low rating,” said customer Kaylie James, of Brooklyn. “Maybe I’ll just stick to salads and fruit.”
Crystal Manor received failing grades twice last year with scores way above the cutoff point. “We are addressing the issues aggressively,” said owner Grace Johnson.
“We believe some of the violations are relatively new things. Part of them are structural and beyond our control. We inherited them with the building, which we have had for more than 15 years.”
Last week, a rodent-infested East Village sushi joint was serving tuna rolls and fried shrimp shumai, even after inspectors ordered it shut down.
Two weeks after the order, Fu Sushi on Avenue B was still posting its specials on Twitter.
Records from the first six months of restaurant grading suggest the system is motivating restaurants to improve.
Among those scoring in the B range (14 to 27 violation points) on initial inspection, nearly 44 percent improved to earn an A on second inspection. Of restaurants that scored in the C range (28 or more violation points) on their first inspection, 72 percent improved enough to earn an A or B on the follow-up.
At the Brooklyn Bridge Wine Bar, which serves braised baby-back ribs and pistachio-encrusted goat-cheese salad in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge, customers were surprised to learn inspectors found “no facilities available to wash, rinse and sanitize utensils.”
My Kitchen Restaurant in Forest Hills, Queens, received a combined score of 92 for violations that included flies, vermin and contaminated food. But owner Galik Ambarsom said the Health Department goes too far.
“The inspector looked at every single bottle, and she found one fruit fly in a bottle of peach schnapps, and she gave me a $500 fine,” Ambarsom said. “These guys are ruining my business.” [NY Post]