Two out of the six Michelin starred restaurants in Fitzrovia failed to impress food hygiene inspectors who carried out checks in August and September this year and asked the proprietors to take immediate action to comply with legal requirements.
Ollie Dabbous‘ self-named restaurant, which has been praised for its cuisine by the Evening Standard‘s Fay Maschler and broadcaster Jeremy Clarkson, closed for four days in the summer to address serious failings at the Whitfield Street premises.
Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs was also criticised by food inspectors who asked the management of the Charlotte Street restaurant to take immediate action to comply with regulations.
In a report seen by Fitzrovia News inspectors from Camden Council visited Dabbous at 39 Whitfield Street in August and found a catalogue of failings. Dabbous was awarded a Food Hygiene Rating of zero out of a possible 5.
Most of the concerns were with pest control and inspectors demanded that “immediate” action be taken.
“There was evidence of mice activity throughout the entire premise to the kitchen, lower bar area and off rooms / storage area, where droppings were found in abundance on the floor,” stated the report. “This presented an imminent health risk, that resulted in a voluntary closure.”
“It was clear that the activity, although being treated and monitored by your pest control contractor, was widespread, uncontrolled and further measures are required to bring it under effective control, as previously advised by your control contractor in June 2015.”
But inspectors also found that cleanliness in other areas was very poor. The report noted that equipment was not clean and that “immediate” action should be taken.
There was also concern about cross-contamination from preparation of raw meat, poultry and eggs and that “immediate” action should be taken to “prevent harmful bacteria spreading from one food to another”.
In the report Dabbous was “strongly advised to seek the assistance of a food safety consultant”.
In a candid response Ollie Dabbous told Fitzrovia News:
“We are a situated in an old building in central London, so pest control is something that quite literally goes with the territory. We did have some concerns and were unhappy with the services provided by our previous pest controller. We terminated their contract just a few weeks prior to the inspection and immediately instated a new one, but unfortunately we could not remedy the situation in time.
“We needed to undertake some building works to effectively seal all possible access points. We closed for four days to enable this, and spent thousands of pounds to make the necessary structural improvements.
“Any other issues that arose were regrettable but dealt with straight away,” he said.
“The concerns about cross contamination were largely due to the size of the kitchen, but again, we accept that and have looked to improve accordingly. Every chef in the kitchen takes a food hygiene course and a health and safety course upon induction and every section in the kitchen uses sanitiser.
“The food safety consultant scored us 80 percent just a week after the inspection was carried out.
“The poor score is incredibly disappointing given we had 5 stars for three years previously, and the professional pride we have. We made some mistakes and there was definitely naivety on our part, but as much as we are disappointed by our current score, we are confident our next inspection will be a totally different story,” he said.
In September Camden Council’s food safety inspectors visited Bubbledogs at 70 Charlotte Street and rated the premises 1 out of 5 after they found that “staff were unable to demonstrate adequate cooking and reheating procedures”.
Kitchen Table is located behind a curtain at the back of Bubbledogs and where head chef James Knappett and his team create a meal to diners seated around an open kitchen. It gained its Michelin star last year.
But food safety inspectors were not happy by the level of food hygiene awareness of staff.
The management of Bubbledogs were told to “immediately” put in place “effective control measures” because “undercooking or not thoroughly reheating these products could lead to food poisoning”.
The inspector said: “I strongly recommend that you draw up a cleaning schedule.”
In a response to Fitzrovia News Sandia Chang of Bubbledogs said: “The details highlighted in the report were rectified immediately at Bubbledogs and the council has confirmed that we have met all requirements. We have requested a re-inspection for Bubbledogs and look forward to a significantly higher rating at the earliest opportunity.”
Fitzrovia’s four other Michelin starred restaurants scored well on food safety.
Hakkasan in Hanway Place scored 4, Pied a Terre in Charlotte Street scored 5, Lima in Rathbone Place scored 5, and Portland in Great Portland Street also scored 5.
The Food Standards Agency ratings range from 0 to 5. Each business is given its hygiene rating when it is inspected by a food safety officer from the business’s local authority.
Anyone can check the food hygiene rating of restaurants, pubs, cafes, takeaways, hotels, supermarkets and other food shops at www.food.gov.uk/ratings