Health Department Roundup

Health Department Roundup: "Foo-la" Edition

New contributor E. Ting likes eating, but for professional reasons prefers to remain anonymous.

"Foo-la" is the sound a friend of mine makes when he wants to signal that something is fancy or hoity-toity, which for him could easily be anything over $25. The word sounds vaguely Cajun, since it is too silly to be French. "Foo-la" is what you say when touching a $100 tie at Lord and Taylor. Saying "foo-la" makes you feel better when confronted with the outrageously unaffordable. Making fun of the unreachable cuts it down to our particular wallet size. Try it. Think of something you want and can't afford. Now say "foo-lah." And the spell is broken.

Today we're saying "foo-lah" to the big guns -- expensive eating establishments that have earned citations from the Health Department in the last two weeks. Attention, people who live by the adage that you get what you pay for: You may just be getting another adage. For as sure as there are people who can afford big ticket, multi-course gastronomic delights, there is also shark masquerading as yellow fin.

The Hotel ZaZa (5701 Main) is storing food near the in-need-of-repair floor (two no-nos), perhaps in splattering distance of someone's sneakers, but we should be careful not to mischaracterize. We can never be sure about what's on a floor, even one in bad repair. Ignoring these violations is a small price to pay to be seen eating here.

Ruggles (903 Westheimer) is having floor troubles of its own, along with a veritable hell's kitchen of ventilation problems, including insufficient venting of heat, odors, steam, smoke and fumes. Meanwhile, the 2365 Rice location suffers from food container abuse -- that is, the removing of food from its original packaging and placement of it in unclean or uncovered containers. Quelle puanteur!

I don't know if Joyce's Oyster Resort (6415 San Felipe) is expensive or not, but I've never heard of a shanty resort. Beware of hubris, restaurant marketers. There is much power in a name; it could inadvertently place you in the ZaZa league, where you will be outed for leaving food unprotected from "coughs / sneezes... drainage... drippage" and, my favorite, "leakage."

Over in the Galleria, Café Annie (1728 Post Oak) was cited for plumbing below code. You would think that a place that charges $50 for an entrée could fix the plumbing problem. lists the Taste of Texas (10505 Katy Freeway) as one of the more expensive restaurants in these parts, partner. Filled with antiques, it's not the sort of steak feasting establishment where you can comfortably wipe meat juices from mouth to hand to jeans. Its minor violations (stuff like leaving the ice tongs in the ice) assure us of relatively few bovine-related misadventures behind the scenes.

No news is good news for the likes of platinum-level establishments Sullivan's, Vargo's, Rainbow Lodge, The Brownstone and Café Royal. This time. But we'll be watching you, you chefs and chef/owners and various and sundry haute-y types. Foo-la, indeed.

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E. Ting