Sardi’s whining about cheese pots and health types mind-boggling; clean up that kitchen

Sardi’s, serve all the communal cheese you like in your bars to fatten up New York City’s Theater District.

Just don’t leave it out longer than four hours.

The N.Y. Times reported last week that Sardi’s had stopped serving communal snacks because of the health department and interviewed outraged theater-goers, arm-chair epidemiologists, and V. Max Klimavicius, the president of Sardi’s, who said,

“It has to do with the health department. It’s gotten to the point that the way they’re applying the health code is so rigid, we can no longer have what we always had. … It’s just mind-boggling. Nobody’s happy.”

Amanda Kludt of Eater decided to check the accuracy of the Times story and found it lacking.

Representatives at the Dept. of Health would like the bar-going public to know that the cheese played no role in their inspection nor did they order the bar to make any changes to their snack program. In fact, they write that "Cheese, including communal servings, is allowed to be served at room temperature as long as it is not kept out beyond four hours, per the Health Code."

Let the record show these are the actual Sardi’s violations:

1. Spaghetti and cheese ravioli not held to temperature (at or below 41 degrees F)
2. Bare hand assembly of ready-to-eat food (salad).
3. Contaminated ice.
4. Dry food stored improperly (pasta not stored in proper container)
5. Improper storage of food tongs (touching floor when oven door opens)
7. Improper ice handling.

Sardi’s free cheese ends after visit from health inspector

The New York Times reports (photo from Times, left), that the communal cheese pot — with a knife sticking out and some crackers – was a tradition at bars like the ones in Sardi’s in the theater district.

Now, after a health department inspection that complained about “food not protected from potential source of contamination,” the communal pot is gone.

Other bar-food staples like peanuts and pretzels in little bowls? Sardi’s has taken them off the bar, too.

“It has to do with the health department,” said V. Max Klimavicius, the president of Sardi’s. “It’s gotten to the point that the way they’re applying the health code is so rigid, we can no longer have what we always had. The way it is now with the health department, as they say, a good inspector has to find violations. They come with flashlights and look in every corner.”

“It’s just mind-boggling,” he said. “Nobody’s happy.”

Pat Wolgemuth of West Chester, Pa., said, “How long has it been going on, serving cheese, and nobody got sick?” she asked.

Susan Craig, a health department spokeswoman, said that leaving food on the bar for different parties was a violation. “You shouldn’t have nuts or pretzels or definitely not cheese out at the bar,” she said. “You can be served new appetizers, if you want to call them that, but that can’t be left out” for the next person who comes in.

She denied Mr. Klimavicius’s assertion that inspectors are under pressure to find infractions. “Inspectors are trained to look for things that could put the public health at risk,” she said.