This week, foodies were floored when one of New York’s best restaurants — Per Se — received a “grade pending” rating after racking up enough points to earn it a “C” from the Department of Health.
Chef Thomas Keller’s three Michelin-star restaurant in Columbus Circle earned a whopping 42 violation points in its latest health department inspection, including for “Tobacco use, eating, or drinking from open container in food preparation, food storage or dishwashing area observed,” and “Hand washing facility not provided in or near food preparation area and toilet room.”
It was particularly shocking considering the The New York Times declared it the best restaurant in New York in 2011, and customers typically drop $US620 on a dinner for two.
Grub Street’s Hugh Merwin points out, however, that the violations at Per Se don’t tell the full story. The restaurant — which prides itself on showing customers its well-run, pristine kitchen — isn’t necessarily dirty by any stretch of the imagination. Merwin writes:
It’s difficult to glean any real information from either of those write-ups, or to identify what’s really “wrong” in Per Se’s kitchen. Someone was eating or smoking or drinking or possibly chewing tobacco somewhere in the kitchen? Was it the presence of a drink, or a drink without a lid that was the issue? Were the kitchen towels soiled, or were they just not being stored in sanitizing solution?
Per Se is appealing the inspection, hence the current “grade pending” sign.
Keller (who also helms the three-star Michelin restaurant French Laundry in California) responded to CNN: “We look forward to the opportunity to address the allegations with the Department of Health in the upcoming Oath Tribunal. At that time our final grade will be determined. As with all of our restaurants, we continue to maintain the highest standard at Per Se.”
He followed up on Twitter that the kitchen will continue to be open for diners:
But even with the bad health rating, the world-class restaurant won’t be in danger from want of customers — just a tedious follow up with the Department of Health. As one diner told CNN, he wasn’t nervous to dine at Per Se because he “know[s] Thomas Keller’s reputation.”
Check out the screenshot from the Department of Health’s Website below:
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