Felix TV: Do you want real food or clean food?

By Felix Salmon
July 30, 2011
post about restaurant grades on Thursday, my fabulous video producer, Ayana Morali, discovered that the Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South -- one of the grandest hotels in New York -- received a whopping 77 violation points in its latest inspection.

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After I wrote my post about restaurant grades on Thursday, my fabulous video producer, Ayana Morali, discovered that the Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South — one of the grandest hotels in New York — received a whopping 77 violation points in its latest inspection. So naturally we went up there to check it out, and got surrounded by hotel security guards who weren’t happy with us filming there.

At one point — you don’t see this in the video — the manager came out and told us we weren’t allowed to film outside the hotel. But when I started asking him about those violation points, he scuttled back into the hotel through a side door, mumbling something about not knowing what I was talking about.

It turns out that the Ritz-Carlton kitchen is operated by one of those celebrity-chef franchises, in this case BLT Market. Laurent Tourondel does seem to be making a habit of racking up enormous numbers of violation points: BLT Steak, on 57th Street, received a mind-boggling 91 violation points back in October, before getting its act together and bringing that score down to 2 in November.

When restaurants start getting scores in the upper reaches of the C ranking, it’s definitely worth getting worried. Here’s the chart, again, to remind you how restaurants with 77 or 91 points rank relative to their peers:

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I’d definitely think twice before eating at a restaurant with 77 violation points. But my question in the video is a serious one: even knowing about the 77 points, would I really rather eat at a McDonald’s with no violation points at all? Ultimately, I’d still plump for BLT Market, I think. If I can eat street food in Quito, I should be able to cope with the Ritz-Carlton on Central Park South. Even though it’s living proof that there’s no correlation at all between price and cleanliness.

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