Do DOH Grades Matter to You When Choosing Lunch?
I recently learned in the forums that ML favorite, Hing Won recently ran afoul of the DOH (again) and were briefly closed last week for inspection violations. Last week I posted about the slightly out of ML price range Tuna Burger from the Oyster Bar’s takeout window and Midtown Lunch’r infoman411 called me out in the comments saying:
Are you sure you want to promote this place on ML? Did you happen to notice the Giant C in the doorway? They have it so that if the door is open you can’t actually see the fact that their NYC Dept of Health Inspection rating shows a C. What’s amazing is that I walk by every day and I never saw the rating sign until recently yet DOH site shows its been a C since December 2011.
I actually didn’t know that they received a C, I’ve since learned that the sign is posted in the corner near the door of restaurant, if you went straight to the take out window, as I did, there’s a good chance you might not see the sign at all. But it got me thinking…if I had known at the time that the Oyster Bar was a C, would I have cared? Would you care?
If we’re to believe the recent Quinnipiac University poll, 82% of respondents supported the use of letter grades to evaluate restaurants and 67 % “said they consider letter grades when they decide where to eat, in contrast with 28 percent who don’t.”
In the Tuna Burger post Lunch’r CheeeeEEEEse said “Nobody who actually likes food cares about those anyway. C is still passing. If anything, there will be less people there.” While Lunch’r NOLA Steve responded: “I’m eating the Tuna Burger now, and it tastes much better knowing that it comes from a “C” establishment. I don’t like “A” establishments. “B” and “C” shows some character. Stick to your sanitized restaurants, more dancin’ room for me!”
Still the DOH website touts “Selecting a place to dine out is now even easier with the City’s new restaurant inspection website.” Really? Because last I heard the DOH wasn’t Zagat. Sure, having transparent inspection information available to diners let’s you make a choice about places that might have serious or on-going problems, but I’ve never used the DOH to narrow down the “24,000 restaurants in the city.” And when choosing between where to eat, I’ve never picked an A restaurant over a B because of the grade. I choose based on the merits of the food and what I’m in the mood to eat.
I can think of a certain white tablecloth restaurant in midtown that currently has an A grade, where a few years ago I actually saw a mouse run clear across the dinning room several times in the course of one meal (this was prior to the letter grade system). I discreetly left our clients and told the management. They comped me dessert (not exactly what you want from a restaurant with rodents running wild). I haven’t been back since–close encounters with rodents will do that to you, but other than that, I can’t think of another establishment that I’ve forsworn because of DOH related issues. Do letter grades influence your choices? If you’re a diehard for a restaurant’s food, what would keep you away?