Popular veggie repeatedly cited by health inspectors

One of the few useful data sets the City of Ottawa publishes are reports of restaurant health inspections.

Ottawa was slow to get restaurant inspections online, compared to other cities, and the presentation of the data is awkward. One cannot search by date, for example, but only by restaurant name.

But at least it’s there now.

To get around the clumsy interface, I created a ‘bot that scrapes the city site and post the most recent reports of failed inspections on Twitter, via @restowatch.

Followers of the feed will notice that popular Ottawa vegetarian restaurant The Table, on Wellington St. at Holland Ave., was cited twice in the past week for critical food safety infraction.

I eat there often, and so do a lot of people I know (is there a link between vegetarianism and social media use?) so I was curious.

A look at The Table’s record shows the buffet-style restaurant has been cited repeatedly for critical violations over the past year.  I count 12 critical findings since March 2010.

Some of the non-compliances cited:

  • Food protected from potential contamination and adulteration
  • Food is held at 4°C (40°F) or less
  • Constant supply of potable hot and cold running water under pressure

You can read the inspection abstracts here.

The Table’s owner, Simon Saab, says his food is safe because it is cooked fresh daily and not stored overnight.

“What we cook today we have sold by the end of the day and we start all over in the morning,” Saab said.

Saab says his cooks begin making food fresh every morning at 5 a.m.  for the 350 customers who visit on a typical day.

“It sells very quick. It’s consistently being changed. There isn’t any time for it get contaminated because we’re cooking it all the time.”

In response to the health inspector’s concerns about storage, Saab said he went out and bought 40 new containers. The water problem cited was because an air conditioner was accidentally left on overnight and knocked out the hot water heater the day the inspector visited.

“I run a very tight ship.”

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