Mouse droppings, flies on pizzas, out-of-date food - Inside Camden’s zero and one-star restaurants
PUBLISHED: 17:13 08 September 2020 | UPDATED: 19:31 08 September 2020
Restaurants inspected by Camden Council this year have been found with mouse droppings, riddled with flies and failing to provide suitable hand washing facilities for staff.
At the start of September 2020, 21 food outlets in Camden borough held zero-star hygiene ratings, whilst 147 had one star.
The Ham&High obtained the inspection reports behind Camden’s most recent zero and one-star ratings.
Here is what the inspectors found, as well as the restaurants’ reactions to their ratings.
Bucks Head, Camden High Street
What inspectors said: The business voluntarily closed after inspectors found “imminent risk to public health... food not being adequately protected against contamination... premises not being adequately cleaned or pest proofed.”
The restaurant’s response: A spokesperson for Stonegate Pub Company said, “The Bucks Head voluntarily closed its kitchen just before lockdown. Since then the pub has seen investment, bringing it back up to a 5-star rating on a recent Food Safety Audit. There is a new management team running the operation who have been working in line with guidance from the local environmental health office to ensure quality standards are in place.”
La Creperie De Hampstead, Hampstead High Street
What inspectors said: Out of date ham. No hot water supply, preventing staff from safely washing their hands. The business didn’t have appropriate sanitiser for commercial kitchens.
The restaurant’s response: Neither the manager or owner could be reached for comment.
The Patate, Camden Lock Place
What inspectors said: “Excessive accumulation of grease” on sockets, fuse box, light fittings and plugs: “A thorough deep clean is required to prevent the risk of fire and contamination.” Blocks of cheese kept at room temperature. No properly plumbed-in wash hand basin for staff.
The restaurant’s response: It did not respond to a request for comment.
Philippe Conticini UK, Stables Market
What inspectors said: Dodgy boilers meant the fancy French patisserie had “no hot water supply to the sinks”, preventing proper hand washing. “Substantial gaps” in doors and windows also left it vulnerable to pests.
The restaurant’s response: A spokesman said the inspection had been carried out on the first day of trading. He stressed that no pests had entered the building, but the inspector had felt the gaps made it a future possibility. He said all problems had been fixed within seven days and the business had paid the council to come and carry out a second inspection, but this had been delayed by the lockdown.
Camden Council denied it had received a request for a re-score from Philippe Conticini UK.
Remon Handcrafted Coffee and Bakery, Finchley Road
What inspectors said: “Fruit flies were noted on various cakes, pizzas and work surfaces. High risk foods were being stored uncovered and unprotected from contamination by pests... Mozzarella was past its use-by-date... The wash hand basin was not in regular use due to the lack of hot water and low water pressure... The chopping board in the kitchen was dirty with flies... Flies were noted in the kitchen, servery area and customer seating area... Evidence of fruit flies were found throughout the premises.”
The restaurant’s response: A spokesperson said the café had closed permanently in June, telling Ham&High: “Fruit flies ere a real issue and we tried everything we could to stop them.” They said the source had been “leaks under the floorboards which created excessive moisture in the basement.” They added: “From that report, we stripped out the entire premises, sealed every millimetre and segregated every room with fly doors. Camden were invited to return but requested we pay them for a revisit, which we refused to do.”
Sa Bettola, Hampstead High Street
What inspectors said: “You need to monitor cooking, fridge cooling temperatures, etc. You need a sanitiser for catering... You need a level-2 food hygiene certificate. Wear a clean uniform.”
The restaurant’s response: The former owner told Ham&High that the business had closed down shortly after the inspection.
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Shawarma Bar, Camden Lock Market
What inspectors said: “The temperature of foods stored in the open top service refrigerator was too high due to the fact that the unit had not been switched on. The wash hand basin was not in regular use... There was inadequate hot water supply to the sinks in the unit due to the size of the boiler... The door to the unit was ill-fitting, allowing pests access to the premises... Mouse droppings were noted in the unit.”
The restaurant’s response: It could not be reached for comment.
Survivor Caribbean Restaurant, Arlington Road
What inspectors said: “High-risk foods were being left to cool at room temperature... The temperature of several foods displayed in the service display refrigerator were too high... There was no wash hand basin available in the basement kitchen... Fridge handles were being touched after handling raw meats without adequate hand washing... Inadequate cleaning and disinfection... Food preparation surfaces were not being disinfected regularly.”
The restaurant’s response: Director Althea Russell said: “We opened in December and they came and did the inspection in January. My hand wash sink wasn’t installed yet. It was waiting for the plumber to come. We requested and paid for a revisit but because of covid, nobody has come out yet.”
Camden Council denied it had received a request for a re-score from Survivor Caribbean Restaurant.
Sushi Hana, Flask Walk
What inspectors said: “Raw chicken was stored above ready to eat foods in the refrigerator... The wash hand basin (which contained dirty equipment at the time) was not in regular use... The level of food hygiene awareness amongst your staff was inadequate... You do not have a thermometer to check temperatures... All of your rice pH records showed a reading of 4 every day for weeks. This is not a believable record.”
The restaurant’s response: It did not respond to requests for comment.
Sushi Waka, Parkway
What inspectors said: “Ensure the wash hand basin at the sushi bar is used for hand washing only... Provide a hygienic means of drying hands... Cleaning was poor. Thoroughly clean away all mouse droppings behind the chest freezer in the drinks preparation area. A thorough deep clean of all floors, walls, ceilings, fixtures and fittings is required... Fit the hot water tap to the wash hand basin in the kitchen... Inadequate procedures are in place to cover the making of sushi.”
The restaurant’s response: A spokesperson said the restaurant had now permanently closed.
Temple of Camden, Parkway
What inspectors said:
“Various sauces and cheeses were being stored at room temperature... The extractor canopy filters were in a dirty, greasy condition... Mouse droppings were noted in and round the kitchen... The level of food hygiene awareness and understanding of staff was inadequate. In particular, cooking temperatures, cross contamination, storage of food, temperature control, chilling, cleaning of work surfaces, equipment and food safety risks.”
The restaurant’s response: Director Patrick O’Shea said the restaurant had been inspected in its first week of opening, while the manager was not present. Mice had entered the building during the move and were already being dealt with before the inspector arrived. He added: “As food was all sealed and stored upstairs overnight, this was not presenting any risk to customers.”
Mr O’Shea continued: “The report stating that we were storing cheeses and sauces at room temperature was correct, however we were doing that on the basis that they are vegan cheeses and sauces which do not require refrigeration. Despite confirming this and sending documentation from manufacturers to prove their shelf stability, they have denied our appeal to rescore.
“There is no risk of food poisoning bacteria growing under these conditions... We are a proud restaurant with really high standards, and have enjoyed a five-star rating in Camden for several years in our old premises. We immediately applied to be reinspected but with covid, we haven’t been able to get another inspection yet... We fully expect to get a five-star rating again when we are able to be inspected.”
Camden Council denied it had received a request for a re-score from Temple of Camden.
White Mustache, Stanhope Parade
What inspectors said: The pub was ordered to descale its ice machine and glass washer. It was also instructed to clean its cutlery and deal with a dirty drawer.
The restaurant’s response: It did not respond to a request for comment.
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