West Hartford restaurant inspections
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West Hartford restaurant inspections

Aug 09, 2023

A cockroach crawling in duck stored in a reach-in cooler, mold in sauces, fly larvae in cornmeal, an employee licking their fingers after eating and about to resume without washing their hands are among health violations found in West Hartford restaurants over the last six months, inspection records show.

The duck was discarded on the spot, the finger-licking employee was redirected to wash their hands, the sauces and cornmeal were tossed.

In the "upscale" Mexican street food establishment where the roach was crawling in the refrigerated duck, there were "live and dead roaches throughout," a health district report states.

Dozens of other violations are cited in health inspection reports done by the West Hartford/Bloomfield Health District.

Among the most common violations are of hot and cold holding temperatures for food, moldy or unclean ice machine interiors, unclean food prep surfaces, walls, ceilings and floors.

The inspections are scored on a scale of 100 points and establishments that receive 80 and above pass, unless they receive even one four-point violation.

A four-point violation is an automatic fail because those violations can pose the highest potential risk for foodborne illness.

For example, a score of 96 could be a failing score if those four points represent one of the four-point violations, such as improper temperatures for potentially hazardous food or the lack of accessibility to hand washing sinks.

At least 18 West Hartford restaurants failed inspections in the last six months, but passed upon reinspection.

Health Department officials throughout the state, including West Hartford/Bloomfield Health District Director Aimee Krauss, emphasize the surprise inspectors are just a moment in time and that restaurant conditions can change constantly, depending on factors such as whether a restaurant is busy at the time of inspection or right before it.

The Courant obtained the inspection records from the West Hartford/Bloomfield Health District through a Freedom of Information Act request. The records were provided swiftly and with a charge.

Krauss said the purpose of the inspections is to keep the public and workers safe, as well as to educate restaurant owners on safe practices.

Krauss reiterated her comments from a look earlier at Bloomfield restaurant inspections by the Courant.

She said there's an important collaborative and educational component to inspections, as inspectors work through problems with restaurant owners for as long as it takes.

"That's an opportunity for restaurants to ask questions," she said. "We know people make mistakes."

Krauss has also said that, since the COVID-19 pandemic, the employee turnover in restaurants has been high, so owners have to keep training.

Among the West Hartford restaurants to fail inspection in the last 10 months are:

Bartaco West Hartford, 971 Farmington Ave., which describes itself as having "upscale street food" was inspected Oct. 19, 2022 and failed with an 83, including one four-point violation concerning the "use of wholesome/nonadulterated foods."

They were re-inspected Oct. 24, 2022 and passed with a 91.

The inspector's remarks note that a roach was observed crawling in duck in a reach-in cooler and it was discarded on the spot.

The report also notes, "live roaches in establishment."

In addition, the report notes: raw eggs were stored above stock in the walk in cooler, there was mold growth in the ice machine; no hot water at the server sink; and excessive food debris and water on the floor behind the cook line.

A man identifying himself as the manager came to the phone and said he would contact the corporate office to see if they wanted to comment, but The Courant didn't get a call back.

The Elbow Room, 986 Farmington Ave. failed an inspection Aug, 4, 2022 with a 76, including one four point violation. The restaurant passed reinspection on Aug. 19, 2022 with an 80.

An inspector's remarks include: mold in sauces in walk in cooler; fly larvae in bulk bin cornmeal, bins of French fries and other food uncovered in walk in cooler, interiors of coolers unclean on cook line; rust on interior of ice machine, waste water collecting in bottom of fry station cooler, water dripping from ceiling at downstairs prep area, excessive flies in downstairs prep room, dried " food splatter" on walls throughout the kitchen.

A woman who identified herself on the telephone as a manager, declined to comment on the inspection report.

The Russell, 39 South Main St., failed the inspection Dec. 16, 2022 with an 87, including one four-point violation and passed on reinspection with an 87.

The four-point violation was related to food-cooling temperatures.

Inspector's remarks on the report show there were other problems, including:no probe thermometer for temperatures; raw shrimp, cut veggies at the wrong temperature; white fish/chicken not cooling properly; raw shell eggs and raw beef stored above vegetables in the walk in; several utensils sitting in room temperature water.

Remarks from the reinspection include that there was raw beef stored above cooked beans in the walk in cooler and menu utensils sitting in stagnant, room temperature water. The inspector's note, "Cook not changing disposable gloves between tasks after touching surfaces."

The restaurant staff and owner could not be reached for comment.

Lox Stock & Bagels, 332 North Main St., was inspected on Dec. 21, 2022 and failed with a 69, including one four point violation related to cold holding temperatures. They were re-inspected Jan. 5, 2023 and passed with a 95.

The following issues were among those noted in an inspector's remarks: no food thermometer available; food stored on floor in basement walk in freezer; coffee filters stored unprotected above cold holding unit in front service area; no hot water in restrooms; back kitchen employees not wearing hair restraints; excessive build-up on walls of freezer; mold growth on walls in basement area; front service employee using plain water from hand sink by cash register to clean and sanitize surfaces in the dining room and front service area; racks of bagels stored uncovered in walk-in cooler; cracked/ broken eggs in walk in cooler.

A message was left for the owner/manager, but the call wasn't returned.

New Koma Bistro, 355 North Main St. was inspected on Jan. 4, 2023 and failed with a 66, including and two four-point violations related to food temperatures and hand washing. The eatery was re-inspected on Jan. 20, 2023 and passed with a 92.

An inspector noted the following in report remarks: fly covered fly strips throughout the kitchen; eggs stored above potatoes in a walk in cooler; raw chicken stored above raw beef in walk in cooler; bowl of noodles stored uncovered in walk-in cooler; food stored on floor throughout kitchen, walk-in cooler and freezer; fly traps hanging from the ceiling above food prep areas; flat top spatulas taken from a container of unclean water in a three-bay sink; no wash, rinse, sanitize procedure was used; unclean sinks at hibachi stations.

A message was left for the manager/owner, but the call was not returned.

Ichiro Hibachi & Sushi, 962 Farmington Ave., failed inspection Nov. 29, 2022 and failed with a 61, including three four-point violations for inadequate cold holding temperatures, handwashing facilities, toxic items improperly stored. The restaurant was re-inspected Dec. 13, 2022 and passed with a 90, the inspector noting the establishment had been cleaned since the last visit.

The inspector's remarks included: no sushi log for sushi rice; unclean prep tables and cutting boards in the basement; unclean ceiling throughout; roach spray and fruit flies in basement; heavily cluttered basement rooms; blocked hand sink in upstairs kitchen; unlabeled sanitizer/chemical in hibachi prep area; hole in ceiling of the basement.

Owner Xian Zhu said, "We corrected everything."

Pick & Mix Korean Restaurant, 1232 Farmington Ave., failed the inspection on Dec. 16, 2022 with a 72, including two four-point violations, including for cold holding temperatures.

They were re-inspected on Jan, 5, 2023 and passed with an 88, but picked up new violations.Inspector's remarks on that original inspection include: fried chicken stored in the same cardboard boxes as raw chicken; uncovered foods in the walk-in cooler; food containers stored on the floor of the walk-in cooler; interior of microwave unclean; food workers with no hair restraint; leaking hand sink; unclean walls throughout the kitchen area.

A message seeking comment was left for the owner/manager, but not returned.

Kaliubon Ramen, 54 Memorial Road, was inspected on Nov. 1, 2022 and failed with an 87, including one-four-point violation related to hot and cold holding temperatures.

The eatery was re-inspected Dec, 20, and passed with a 90.

Violations listed in the inspector's remarks included: shelled eggs stored above dried food in a walk-in cooler; wontons stored uncovered in freezer; food stored on the floor by spice rack dish racks stored on the floor.

A message was left for the owner/manager, but the call wasn't returned.

Panera Bread, 2534 Albany Ave. was inspected on Dec. 21, 2022 and failed with a 77, including one four -point violation related to personnel hand washing.

They were re-inspected Jan. 6, 2023 and passed with a 98.

The inspector's remarks note: the food thermometer locked in a managers office, not accessible to kitchen staff; spinach stored uncovered in beverage air reach-in cooler; potato chips stored on floor; employees not washing hands throughout the establishment; hand sinks were dry and no hand washing was observed; interior of cold holding units in back sandwich prep area unclean; food contact surfaces in back sandwich area unclean, compressor in small walk in cooler leaking onto floor; employee bagging chicken in back across from walk in cooler did not wash hands when changing gloves.

The staff at the restaurant could not be reached for comment.

New Asia, 1155 New Britain Ave. was inspected Dec. 1, 2022 and failed with an 83, including one four-point violation under a category that requires, "wholesome non adulterated food."

New Asia was re-inspected Dec. 20, 2022 and passed with 95.

The inspector's remarks noted: cooked chicken fingers stored in box used to store raw chicken (the item was discarded); uncovered food; utensils used for dry food products were buried in food with no handle.

A person who answered the telephone hung up when told The Courant was calling about a restaurant inspection.

Max's Oyster Bar, 964 Farmington Ave. was inspected on Nov. 11, 2022, and failed with an 82, including two four-point violations involving accessibility and amount of hand washing stations.

The eatery passed reinspection with a 96 on Dec. 22, 2022.

The inspector's report remarks include: raw fish /seafood stored adjacent to cooked foods on rolling rack in basement walk in cooler; manual can opener unclean with "gunk" and metal shavings; a bowl without a handle used as a scoop; evidence of waste water in storm drain behind restaurant.

Neither an owner nor manager could be reached for comment.

Great TSO, 278 Park Road, was inspected on Oct. 20, 2022 and failed with a 73 and two four point violations, including for improper cooling and inadequate hand washing.

They passed on reinspection Nov. 3, 2022 with a 91.

An inspector noted: "live and dead roaches throughout the establishment;" no thermometer for any food products; raw shrimp and tofu uncovered in the walk in cooler; a hand sink blocked by broken fryer, trash bin and other items; "filthy" wiping cloths, sponges, scrub pads that were also in disrepair; unclean walls and floors unclean throughout the establishment.

A person who answered the telephone hung up when told The Courant was calling about a restaurant inspection.

Hartford Golf Dining Club, 134 Norwood Road, failed the health inspection Sept. 9, 2022 with a 68, including three four point violations for hot holding temperatures.

They were re-inspected Jan. 3, 2023 and passed with a 93.

Inspectors noted during their initial visit, chicken held in a cold holding unit was "par cooked"; food was stored under sewage waste line in downstairs dry storage area; a cell phone was stored on a food prep table in use; mold growth on interior of ice machine; containers of a white granulated substance unlabeled on the cook line; an ice scoop handle resting in ice at bar; walls behind and in the area of a Hobart mixer were unclean.

A message seeking comment was left for a manager or owner, but was not returned.

WeHa Brewing & Roasting Company, 141 Shield St. was inspected on Sept. 21, 2022 and failed with a 75, including one four- point violation.

The establishment was re-inspected on Oct. 6, 2022 and passed with a 90.

Inspectors on that initial visit noted: vanilla, cayenne pepper and other spices stored uncovered on a spice rack in the kitchen; a fly trap in use next to beer taps at bar; bags of wheat, oats, in beer brewing room less than 12 inches from the floor; oat milk stored on floor in kitchen; a hand sink in the beer room was being used as dump sink; top of flat top grill unclean; flies near the stove; mold growth on the exterior of beer kegs in walk-in cooler; fruit flies in the kitchen and area of bar taps; drain trays under beer taps unclean; floor in kitchen and walls throughout kitchen unclean; exterior of equipment on cook line unclean.

Owner Cody McCormack said all the problems have been remedied.

Zohara Mediterranean Kitchen, 991 Farmington Ave. failed inspection Oct. 7, 2022 with an 86, including one four point violations for an inadequate cold holding temperature.

An inspector's remarks included: chicken, tomatoes, stored in a lift cooler;thermometer on refrigeration equipment not registering proper temperature; lift top cooler not maintaining temperature; interior of server station microwave unclean.

The restaurant was re-inspected Oct. 21, 2022 and passed with a 97.

A message was left at the restaurant but was not returned.

Red Robin, 1509 New Britain Ave, failed inspection on Sept. 15, 2022 and failed with an 83, including one four-point violation for cold holding and internal cooking temperature.

In addition to a cooking temperature issue, an inspector's remarks include: creamers stored on the floor of the walk in cooler with beer kegs; interior of walk-in cooler unclean where dessert sauces are stored; dish racks stored on floor in ware washing area,.

They were re-inspected on Sept. 29, 2022 and passed with a 98.

No staff at the restaurant could be reached for comment.

Goldberg's Bagels, 1131 New Britain Ave., failed the inspection on Dec. 8, 2022 with a 56 and two four-point violations having to with temperatures and hand washing facilities.

An inspector's remarks include: smoked salmon being held on a prep table at 51 degrees; no food thermometer available; shelled eggs stored above a box of tomatoes in a walk in cooler; containers of cheese left uncovered in a walk-in cooler; one cook "was using his cell phone, then proceeded to replace his gloves and began handing food without washing his hands"; chicken thawing in stagnant water on prep table; mold growth on interior of ice machine; all food contact surfaces unclean; shelving in all walk in coolers and freezer unclean; "dead insect exoskeletons found in basement, unclean floors throughout.The eatery was re-inspected on Dec. 27, 2002 and passed with an 89.

Owner Chad Kirby said all the problems have been corrected and admits, "We did have a little problem…We let it slide," because he was in a serious motorcycle accident.

Song Restaurant, 74 LaSalle Road, failed the inspection on Sept. 21, 2022 with a 63 including two four- point violations, involving food holding temperatures and handwashing. The eatery was re-nspected Oct. 6, 2022 and passed with a 93.

An inspector's remarks included: no thermometer on site; uncovered food items throughout the kitchen; food containers stored on the floor in the basement; a wood bowl used for raw meat before being cooked; flies in the kitchen; grease on the floor around the grease trap in the basement, unlabeled sauces and seasonings in the kitchen. The remarks also read, "employee ate food in kitchen then licked fingers, had to step in to tell employee to wash hands." The report also notes hands were not being washed in the kitchen by staff; the microwave oven was unclean inside; food was being eaten in the kitchen by staff.

No staff could be reached at the restaurant.

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Bartaco West Hartford The Elbow Room The Russell Lox Stock & Bagels New Koma Bistro Ichiro Hibachi & Sushi Pick & Mix Korean Restaurant Kaliubon Ramen Panera Bread New Asia Max's Oyster Bar Great TSO Hartford Golf Dining Club WeHa Brewing & Roasting Company Zohara Mediterranean Kitchen Red Robin Goldberg's Bagels Song Restaurant Follow Us