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Jun 22, 2001 04:12 PM

Do you go to places with a "C" on the door?

  • m

I bet we all went to "C" places before the started posting grades without even knowing it. Now when you see a "C" do you run screaming or walk in bravely?

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  1. c
    Carolyn Tillie

    When the rating system was first put into place in Los Angeles, Sweet Lady Jane's was given a "C". I talked to workers there and did some investigation and found out that it had a great deal to do with the regulations regarding sink size and placement in relationship to the rest of the work stations. Once they redesigned their back kitchen, the rating was changed to an "A". The quality of their desserts was never different from no rating to a "C" rating to an "A" rating -- always exceptional.

    So, the rating may not necessarily be based on filth. (Although a "C" rating DOES scare me a bit more now that the system has been in effect for a while.)

    Unrelated question -- I got ants a one of those fast-food Chinese places once. I thought about going back but couldn't find their rating. When I asked about it, they said they no longer had to post a rating. I didn't believe them and walked out.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Carolyn Tillie

      The Dept. of Health Services rating page is at the link below. My guess is if there's no rating posted, it's because they're lower than a C.


      1. re: Grebby
        Carolyn Tillie

        I just perused the recently closed locales and it gave me quite turn -- The Magical Castle closed in mid-May for VERMIN?!?! Ubon closed for not having hot water? I used to like and respect Zazou in Redondo Beach -- they got closed for vermin and are now re-openen, but with only a C rating.

        I'm scared -- and have bookmarked that site for frequent investigation.

        Thanks, Grebby (I think)

        1. re: Grebby

          I was under the impression that if you got lower than a C you were shut down until you could get it up to a B. I also thought that C places had a week to improve to a B or an A or they would be shut down.

          1. re: Muhlyssa

            Not quite... you get increased inspections at a C... it's when you don't get a letter grade but a number that they have the option to shut you down. (Certain infractions require immediate closure -- vermin, lack of bathroom, lack of hot water, gross contamination.)

            I just went to Banh Mi Che Cali. They have a C. I've never seen a banh mi shop have anything higher than a low B, because of the nature of it -- they work so quickly and are usually so swamped that they just have food everywhere and it's not necessarily up to code. Same with Chinese places, esp. dim sum -- it's so busy and there are so many things being made at any given place that to have to open a tray to get to spices or sauces would kill the efficiency of the restaurant.

            My rule is I'll eat at an A or B restaurant no questions asked, but if it's a C, I have to have eaten there multiple times before... and sushi bars have to have an A, no exceptions.

            One day I was eating at Yashima in the Olympic Collection, and had a coworker and a client with me. We'd ordered a roll to start (don't ask, I don't get it either)... as we were waiting, the health inspector came out of the kitchen, took down the "A", put up a "58" and walked out.

            Thirty seconds later, our sushi showed up.

            They were back up to an "A" two weeks later, to be fair... and that place is always SCRUPULOUSLY clean.

        2. re: Carolyn Tillie

          "So, the rating may not necessarily be based on filth. (Although a "C" rating DOES scare me a bit more now that the system has been in effect for a while.)"......

          I'll bet you saw all those "Dirty Dining" segments on eyewitness news. They scared the crap out of me...can you all say VERminnnnn.....

        3. I have tried a few C restaurants in the past couple of years, and I have always regreted it. some B's are pretty good, though.

          1. I think that places without a rating have not necessarily received a grade lower than a C. I went to the Sanamluang Cafe in Pomona for old times sake a couple years back -- I went to college out there -- and they had dipped below a C rating and instead had a number -- something in the 50s if I can remember correctly. The restaurant was the same as it was when I was going to college -- everything on the whole didn't seem to be sparkling clean. But whereas back then we would give it the benefit of the doubt, going in knowing it had gotten a fifty-something made it less appetizing.
            One final note, I've worked in restaurants in the South and in Southern California and was struck by the greater degree to which attention was paid toward health inspections there compared to here. This suggests that perhaps a C or lower rating in LA is not a good thing.

            1. All that matters is how it tastes. A D might give me pause, but a C? That's a passing grade!

              1. If I already know the restaurant I will go to someplace with a C rating - The low rating is often temporary based on abnormal conditions on the day of the inspection.

                Below a C - I turn around and go elsewhere.

                2 Replies
                1. re: Ray

                  The truth is a lot of the most chowhoundish places around town post c's and b's. So much so that a friend of mine likes to joke that the ratings should be read inversely -- with a's the lowest rating.

                  That said, few meals are good enough to warrant being poisoned. My recommendation is this (and it squares with what other people have said in this thread): If you're worried about the rating at a restaurant, ask the mgmt why they got it. If the rating was based on a technicality, they'll be grateful for the chance to tell you. If the mgt gets defensive, chances are the rating was based on something more damning. Of course, if there's a language barrier, as is often the case, you'll just have to go by facial expressions or hand gestures, rude or otherwise.

                  On a related topic, has anyone else read Kitchen Confidential? After reading it, I can't help suspecting that there's some kind of bodily fluid -- or worse -- in every dish I'm served. But what are you going to do? Knowing all that he knows, Bourdain himself says he'll try everything once. His only rule: don't order fish on Mondays...

                  1. re: Rafi

                    I read that just a month ago - what an amazing writer and what a life! And even the bread basket being recycled didn't really bother me. I've gotten food poisoning at some of the "better" restaurants with A ratings, and been fine at the countless number of dives I frequent. I definitely avoid the fish on Mondays, as well as seafood frittatas at Sunday brunch and mussels just about anywhere!