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The Letter Grade Lowdown

The Health Department breaks down why certain restaurants scored the way they did. And it gets gross.

The New York City letter grade system is truly the great equalizer. 

Yes, a pricey bistro can masquerade as an upscale dining experience, all white table cloths and mustachioed waiters, but slap a bright orange "C" grade to the outside, and suddenly, it's no better than the grimy noodle joint up the street—and possibly worse.

With the noodle joint, you know what you're getting. You overlook the errant fly buzzing around the cash register, the proprietor's dirty fingernails and the fact that there's cat sleeping peacefully on a stack of freshly washed dishes (true story). There's a certain honesty about the exchange that many diners find refreshing. 

It's when all that stuff is hidden under the guise of good taste, out of view of the well-polished patrons that it becomes truly disturbing (see: Patrick Bateman, Larry Craig, etc.). You may as well eat your coq a vin in a Bronx dumpster. 

We decided to take a look at the reasons behind some of the more poorly-scored establishments in Windsor Terrace and Kensington to better understand what exactly is going on behind closed kitchen doors.

According to the city's Department of Health, restaurants with a score between 0 and 13 points earn an "A," those with 14 to 27 points receive a "B" and those with 28 or more are slammed with an unsightly "C." Restaurants that earned a "B" or "C" grade can opt to post a "Grade Pending" sign until its owners present their case to the lofty-sounding "Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings Health Tribunal."  

Also, we only included violations deemed "critical," leaving off the more innocuous ones off for the sake of space. However, all the information below and more is available on the health department's website, so definitely check it out if you have a few hours—and an appetite—to kill. 

 

Restaurant Grade Points Violation

Green Pavilion

Pending 27 1. Hot food item not held at or above 140º F.
2. Hot food item that has been cooked and refrigerated is being held for service without first being reheated to 1 65º F or above within 2 hours.
3. Live roaches present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.
4. Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Filth flies include house flies, little house flies, blow flies, bottle flies and flesh flies. Food/refuse/sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies and Phorid flies.

Le P'tit Paris

B 24 1. Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation.
2. Food worker does not use proper utensil to eliminate bare hand contact with food that will not receive adequate additional heat treatment.
3. Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility's food and/or non-food areas Elora Restaurant B 22 1. Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation.
2. Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.
3. Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Filth flies include house flies, little house flies, blow flies, bottle flies and flesh flies. Food/refuse/sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies and Phorid flies.
4. Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service.

Connie's Cafe

Pending 21 1. Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation.
2. Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.
3. Live roaches present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.
4. Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Filth flies include house flies, little house flies, blow flies, bottle flies and flesh flies. Food/refuse/sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies and Phorid flies.

Crossroads Cafe

Pending 20 1. Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.
2. Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service. To Be Thai B 18 1. Live roaches present in facility's food and/or non-food areas.
2. Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Filth flies include house flies, little house flies, blow flies, bottle flies and flesh flies. Food/refuse/sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies and Phorid flies.
3. Wiping cloths soiled or not stored in sanitizing solution. Le Paddock  B 15 1. Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service.
2. Sanitized equipment or utensil, including in-use food dispensing utensil, improperly used or stored.

 

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Jenny May 08, 2012 at 07:29 PM
this is interesting. and i agree, appetite killing.
Liliana De Jesus May 08, 2012 at 11:57 PM
What a great resource! I love that you can look up specific restaurants and see any and all violations, even those with an A rating, on the site you linked to.
Dan Costin May 09, 2012 at 02:38 AM
If you want to see inspection results on your iPhone/iPad/iTouch, including what each Grade Pending really means like you see in the article, check out Grade Pending in the App Store. Free, and works even when you don't have Internet access (in the subway, for example). http://tinyurl.com/gpend
Robert June 20, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Dont be fooled by the grade.. it is a revenue system for the city.. Every restaurateur I have spoken to says the same thing... its a pay to "A" scheme.... Think about some oif the violations..Smoked fish and reduced O2 products stored above temp... of course they are, they are preserved in such a way as to not be temperature sensitive.. and a French restaurant using their hand to prepare food OMG!!! I wish the city just made us pay the correct amount in taxes and left everyone alone..

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