Restaurant News & Reviews

This Pollo Tropical has rodents. That buffet stinks. Why 9 restaurants got shut down.

A statewide look at Florida’s top restaurant violations for 2016-17

Restaurant inspections ensure food retail establishments are in compliance with state sanitation and food safety procedures. Here are the top ten violations inspectors found between 2016-17 in Florida restaurant kitchens.
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Restaurant inspections ensure food retail establishments are in compliance with state sanitation and food safety procedures. Here are the top ten violations inspectors found between 2016-17 in Florida restaurant kitchens.

If you have any doubt that learning appliance repair and pest extermination give you the best job security in South Florida, check out this week’s Sick and Shut Down List.

Everybody expects rodents and roaches to get restaurants slapped by state inspectors. But this week, we see malfunctioning coolers or dishwashers helping push restaurants into the abyss of being shut down for the day, or longer.

This list comes from state restaurant inspections. We don’t control who gets inspected or how strictly they’re inspected. The facts are presented without passion or prejudice, but with two cups of humor (and maybe a dash of judgment.)

In alphabetical order...

Asian Buffet & Grill, 240 S. Federal Hwy., Deerfield Beach — The inspector called out Asian buffet for its sensory smorgasbord on Sept. 25.

There’s the olfactory dish: “Objectionable odor in establishment. Strong odors coming from dishwashing area where water is pooling in gaps between cracked tiles.”

There’s the sight entree: “Employee wiped mouth with gloved hand then continued prepping foods without changing gloves or washing hands.”

There was a touch-texture element: “Old food stuck to clean dishware/utensils. On shelving unit near kitchen entryway. *

Maybe the problem is the dishwasher. That appliance had other problems inside.

“Dishmachine chlorine sanitizer not at proper minimum strength” more like at maximum weakness, measuring 0 parts per million. That means cooking equipment, dishes and eating utensils aren’t sanitized. That means passing the plate means not only passing food, but passing germs.

While we’re talking about germs, you know how many are in those little spaces between say, a stove or grill and whatever’s next to it? Yeah, well, “in-use knife/knives stored in cracks between pieces of equipment at cookline.”

They made a homemade scoop out of a plastic bottle. That’s resourceful. It’s also a citation.

Did you bring your own ice? You might wish you did...”accumulation of black/green mold-like substance in the interior of the ice machine.”

If you’re thinking they got shut down without the inspector spotting anything living with more than two legs ...

“Two live flies landing on prep table at cookline. Three flies landing on bus pan in dishwashing area. One live fly landing inside clean container at cookline. Three flies flying around back door area. One live fly landing on chest freezer in sushi bar area.”

That must be particularly disheartening to whoever was responsible for the fly sticky tape being over the food preparation area.

As for the roaches, there were nine live ones and one dead one by the dishwashing area next to cookline. Two live roaches inside of the three-compartment sink in dishwashing area, on dead one on the floor near the prep sink. One live roach next to clean utensils storage shelving by kitchen entryway. Another live one by dry storage shelving next to prep area. Eight live roaches near chest freezer by ice machine area. One dead roach by glass door cooler in front line. Three dead roaches on floor near walk-in cooler. And, finally, five dead roaches by chest freezer near ice machine.

They got it together on Wednesday.

Bamboo Garden Chinese Restaurant, 1232 NE 163rd St., North Miami Beach — There were 21 hints on Thursday that The ‘Boo has a rodent problem.

Twenty hints were “moist rodent droppings underneath the three-compartment sink by the back door.”

The remaining hint: “a dead mouse trapped on a glue trap behind the ice machine a the front dining area.”

And let’s talk about “potentially hazardous” handling of food. Such as fresh garlic oil that’s supposed to be at 41 degrees or less being at a balmy 80 degrees. Also too warm were cooked chicken, cooked shrimp and cooked rice. “Operator put it in another working cooler.”

Oh, and shrimp at 69 degrees (too warm by a lot) thawing in standing water. Lime scale build-up on hot water dispenser machine nozzles.

Also, “In-use utensil used with moist food stored in running water with insufficient velocity to flush food particles away.”

Friday was, if not a good day, a better day at Bamboo Garden, which reopened.

Cy Chinese Restaurant Sczechuan, 1242 NE 163rd St., North Miami Beach — You’ll find their inspections on the state site under Y & C Restaurant. And what you’ll find is a chronicle of yuck in eight High Priority violations among 28 total violations Thursday.

Their rodents like mushrooms, as evidenced by the “approximately nine-plus rodent dry droppings on top of a container lid that contains bag of mushrooms, seven-plus dry rodent droppings on an electrical metal box in the storage area.”

Then, there were roaches, living and dead. Over seven live roaches crawling around a dining room wooden shelf with clean glasses, plates and utensils and a dead roach. A roach crawling on the floor by the entrance of the kitchen, another scurrying in the storage area and one dead body on a storage area shelf.

“Observed 6 dead roaches on the inner gaskets of a reach in freezer in the kitchen. Observed three dead roaches in the sanitizing solution of the three compartment sink. Observed two dead roaches in a container that contains bags of spices...”

Wait .. .three dead roaches in the sanitizing solution of the three-compartment sink? That solution seems more contaminated than sanitized.

More “in-use knife/knives stored in cracks between pieces of equipment?” Can’t put up a hook or get a cooking utensil holder? Visit a Target and drop a few bucks, people.

The rice scoop being used sat in lukewarm water, 85 degrees, well below the minimum of 135 degrees. Hey, at least it was an actual scoop, not an improvised scoop made out of a plastic bottle like some other restaurants on this list.

Also sitting in standing water: chicken being thawed. That was on prep table, as was cooked pork fried rice. You might think that should be in either a warmer or a cooler. So, did the inspector, who said it needed to be at 135 degrees but was at 59.

And the Stop Sales rained on a dented/rusted 62-ounce can of Lee Kum Kee soy sauce, cooked fried rice; noodles; cooked chicken; and cooked pork.

On the Friday callback, Cy got a time extension to comply.

Fuel for Fit FL, 1501 S. Dixie Hwy., Lantana — How about Flies for Fit? “Twenty-plus live small flying insects at the cook line on the prep table and on the wall. Fifty-plus live small flying insects on the floor mixer next to triple sink. Ten-plus live small flying insects on the dish machine.”

As for the bugs who don’t fly, the inspector saw, “one live roach next to the hand wash sink at cook line. Two live roaches on the wall behind the prep table at cook line. Four live roaches under unused refrigerator across the grill. Five dead roaches inside unused cooler at cook line.”

The handwash sink was removed from food preparation at cook line. “Must be reinstalled in the same location where removed.”

Walk-in cooler No. 3 was frozen up, leading to Stop Sales dropping like summer rain on cheese, milk, sour cream, blue cheese, beef, cooked meals containing potatoes, beans, eggs, chicken, pork and beef.

They fully passed an inspection Monday.

La Caravane Take Out Restaurant, 560 NE 44th St., Pompano Beach — And the roaches ran on Sept. 24: “one live roach by handwash sink at cookline, 12 live roaches by the three-compartment sink area, three live roaches under the chest freezer next to the three-compartment sink.”

Otherwise, you had bad storage — raw animal food (fish) stored over ready-to-eat food (cooked beans) and plastic juice bottles right on the floor at the cookline.

They were back open Tuesday.

Mex Mexican Grill, 16850 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach — Wonder if the inspector sang “La Cucaracha” while spotting the “one live roach in between reach-in cooler and preparation table; three live roaches in between cooler and kitchen wall by the reach-in cooler in front of the three-compartment sink; three live roaches on the three-compartment sink underneath and three live roaches on the electricity plug on kitchen wall.”

Or, while seeing the “approximately 30 dead roaches next to handwashing sink, five dead roaches behind the reach-in cooler, 15-plus dead roaches on kitchen floor, approximately 30 dead roaches trapped in control device on top of steam table shelve.”

Or, while seeing “approximately 100+ roach droppings under the handwashing sink near to preparation table.”

They didn’t know how long the black beans, tomato sauce or the sauce ranchero had been there, just that it had been there longer than a day. And the tomato sauce and black beans weren’t covered in the reach-in cooler. Did the local storage container supplier go on vacation or the lam or something?

That should make you feel as good as “encrusted material on can opener blade” or the cutting board that’s no longer cleanable.

Also, this violation is underrated for the damage it can do: Raw/undercooked animal food offered and establishment has no written consumer advisory.

Moshi Moshi, 1488 Washington Ave., Miami Beach — The inspector must have been in a mood for Thursday’s visit, which set some kind of record for fewest violations between open and shut down: five.

The lone High Priority no-no was “five live roaches under the preparation table, one live roach crawling on wall by reach in freezer, one live roach by ice machine, one live roach on reach cooler gasket and two live roaches by mop sink.”

The three Basic violations were “floor areas covered with standing water;” “soiled reach-in cooler gaskets;” “grease accumulated on kitchen floor and/or under cooking equipment;” and “bowl or other container with no handle used to dispense food.”

They were back open Friday.

Pollo Tropical, 14880 SW 31st St., Miramar — Those weren’t stray black beans on the floor on Sept. 24: “Eight dry droppings next to water heater, two fresh droppings under tofu container shelf, three fresh droppings under soda boxes.”

There were three dead roaches next to to-go bags in the front counter. If the inspector saw that on a visit, shouldn’t the employees who toil there?

The walk-in cooler that’s supposed to keep stuff under 41 degrees measured 58 degrees with a pipe leaking near the fan. With food being kept in this perfect football weather, the inspector started dropping Stop Sales on enough food to feed a tailgate: 22 pounds of balsamic tomatoes, 25 pounds of black beans and corn, 50 pounds of shredded cheese, 36 pounds of butter and 52 pounds of cooked ribs.

Their Monday turned into a Tuesday and they got back open.

The Tavern, 3720 Collins Ave., Miami Beach — Before we get to the cleaning problems at the restaurant in Hotel Croydon, let’s deal with the bugs.

“Approximately four live roaches under the preparation table in kitchen area, approximately 10 live roaches on floor in water heater room approximately 13 feet from kitchen entrance door. There’s no food in the water heater area.”

No cold running water at the handwashing sink by the kitchen door, either. No proper sanitizing in the dishwasher machine, either.

The can opener blade customers can’t see had “encrusted material” while the soda gun they can see was “soiled.”

The chicken wings in the reach-in cooler were at too warm a temperature. It probably didn’t help that the cooler’s gasket was torn.

They got right with the inspector on Friday.