From the DOH Chronicles: Spotted Pig’s Personal Hygiene Problems, Flying Insects at Cafeteria, and Mice Who Enjoy High-End Cocktails


The mice-in-the-cheesecake photos purportedly taken at Junior’s the week before last served as a reminder, once again, that vermin aren’t terribly picky about where they make their home, and that DOH woes aren’t limited solely to the likes of Taco Bell and hole-in-the-walls in farthest Queens. There are, in fact, plenty of fashionable, and even reputable establishments that rack up enough violation points (28 or more) to incur a dread “Requires Compliance Inspection” rating from the DOH. A modest survey of the department’s Restaurant Inspection website turned up some rather pedigreed offenders, ones more often associated with Zagat ratings than those dubiously awarded by the DOH.

The Spotted Pig racked up 43 points during its October 17 inspection. Aside from some plumbing issues and “improperly constructed” non-food contact surfaces, the gastropub apparently has some problems with the “personal hygiene” of some of its workers, which the inspection found “inadequate” thanks to dirty clothes and unrestrained hair. Also problematic was the Pig’s treatment of smoked fish, which was improperly held above 38 degrees F.

Cafeteria, which received 45 points during its October 8 inspection, also had some problems with smoked fish, as well as flying insects, a shoddy bathroom, and, most disturbingly, evidence of cross-contamination between raw, cooked, and prepared food.

Cross-contamination, inadequate personal hygiene, and improperly held smoked fish was also on the menu at Vinegar Hill House, which barely qualified for a compliance inspection with 28 points.

Huckleberry Bar isn’t just home to painstakingly crafted cocktails. As of its April 22 inspection, it was home to at least once mouse, as well as milk kept past its expiration date. The DOH repaid such questionable hospitality with 32 points.

On the other side of the East River, Stand, with its 44 points, has a considerable list of woes attached to its toasted marshmallow milkshakes and bacon and egg cheeseburgers. They include flying insects, evidence of mice in its “non-vermin proof” facility, no place for employees to wash their hands after using the john, and foods held above 41 degrees F. As anyone who’s ever had to sit through a HAACP certification class can tell you, the sour spot between 41 and 140 degrees F is referred to as the danger zone. Which in turn spells danger for restaurant inspections.

Stand’s sins were surpassed by those of Gari, the Upper West Side outpost of the swank Sushi of Gari. The restaurant earned 45 points during its September inspection, perhaps most disturbingly for cross-contaminated or otherwise “adulterated” food and for holding fish and other foods above 41 degrees F.

Cross-contamination, flies, mice, cross-contamination and warmer than advisable smoked fish were also a problem at Macondo during its September inspection, resulting in an impressive 52 points. Suddenly, ordering the ceviche doesn’t seem like such a brilliant idea.

And while Eli Zabar’s Vinegar Factory may be synonymous with insanely priced salmon served to insanely wealthy people, in the annals of the DOH, it’s more closely associated with tVinegar Factory flying insects, workers handling prepared foods with their bare hands, unsanitized wiping clothes, and, perhaps most damningly for someone bearing the Zabar name, improperly held smoked fish. All of that added up to 57 points during the restaurant’s August 29 inspection. Apparently, you can catch more flies with vinegar, after all.