Health Department Roundup

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Sometimes, we wonder whether all the health regulations the city enforces actually keep people from getting sick. Were you more likely to suffer unpleasant food-related maladies 50 years ago, when restaurant regulations were less stringent? (We hesitate to call a point in which black and Jewish people weren't allowed in downtown department stores a "simpler time," but in a regulatory respect it probably was.) Or are the endless, repetitive citations just money makers for the city and thin security blankets for diners? Also, what if God is just playing a cruel joke and doesn't care one way or the other about what happens to us? Also, here are this week's health code violation highlights.

Piola (3201 Louisiana), an upscale pizza chain based in Italy, apparently maintains European traditions when it comes to sanitation. The pizza station and bar were clean, but the kitchen had a couple of violations, one of which seems serious. A Sardinian guy once told us that, in Italy, if you eat at a restaurant and get sick, you don't bitch or moan or sue or go home and take a nap and then burn the place down, you deal with it. Maybe the manager should have told the inspector that when he or she was writing Piola up for food that wasn't "in sound condition/safe for human consumption/not free from spoilage, filth, other contaminants/not obtained from an approved source/not in compliance with laws relating to food labeling." The inspection was based on a complaint; Piola also notched a repeat violation for not having a thermometer to measure final rinse temperature on the dishwasher.

Editor's Note: Piola responds: "It is true that the health department came by and found an ice cream with improper label/origin from the manufacturer and the Health Department is now in a dispute with the manufacturer himself regarding how the item should be packaged and under what license it should be sold. Meanwhile, we're in the middle, simply holding on to this ice cream and waiting for this bureaucracy issue to be worked out between them."

We've never heard of Faces Club (1454 Witte), and that's an unusual thing, seeing as we've been to or heard of the majority of the bars in Houston. (This is not a point of pride.) After consulting reviews and the bar's Facebook profile, we found out it's a neighborhood dive that hosts local blues and country near the heavily Hispanic and Korean section of Long Point. Looks like it could be a good spot, actually -- you just might not necessarily want to eat there. Faces was issued a citation after a recent inspection found the following violations: poorly maintained/improperly designed utensils, lack of handwashing signs and dispensing utensils with handles in the food. There was also a repeat violation for a missing Food Service Manager Certification. Of course, we say you might not want to eat there; we probably still would, because we are not dainty. Look at this place. Are you expecting Howard Hughes-like cleanliness?

La Fendee Mediterranean Grill (1402 Westheimer) scored seven violations, including write-ups for dirty vent filters, dust and debris on non-food-contact surfaces, potentially slimy ice and food that wasn't "upgraded/replaced" in the time frame laid out by state rules. The inspector must not have seen the mooching black-and-white cat that hangs out on the restaurant's patio, which is good news, because like prohibition agents of old, health inspectors have standing orders to put a swift end to anything fun or endearing.

Shock, horror of the week: St. John's (1 Park Place Lane, Monopoly Board 2401 Claremont) should be able to afford to keep things clean, considering tuition there is exactly one unicorn horn per semester. But the Lee Field concession stand got a violation for crusted grease/soil deposits. Rushmore's not so charming anymore, is it?! Welcome to the real world, Rebels Mavericks.

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