Before you go out to dine at a restaurant in town (or even if you’re staying in), you can now check out the entire reports of health inspections at that food-serving establishment, sometimes going back a whole year.
It’s all on the same Web pages where Darien Health Department has been posting its “plates” ratings of “Good,” “Fair” and “Poor” for food-serving establishments in town.
You can check out your favorite restaurants and others (more than 100 establishments, including snack bars, school cafeterias and wherever food is sold for consumption on the spot) right here.
On the website, run by the town Health Department, allows you to search for restaurants in various ways. We had some trouble finding the link to the full inspection reports when we searched directly for the name of the restaurant — instead, search by the first letter of the name, then when that list of restaurants comes up in alphabetical order, click on the one you’re looking for. When you click on a restaurant’s name, you’ll get the short vertical column of boxes showing ratings under the town’s “plates” system (as in the smaller picture attached to this article). Each box corresponds to an inspection visit.
Click on “View Full Inspection Report” at the bottom of each boxed rating. The inspection document (published online as a Java document) is several pages long. If you scroll to the bottom, you get “Inspector’s remarks” which is usually the most interesting part (see image below).
The numbered remarks correspond with the form appearing above them to show you exactly what part of the state Health Code has been violated. All municipal health departments in the state follow the same state inspection system (although different departments may have their own interpretations, laxities or strict practices in implementing the state regulations, so if you ever find an out-of-town restaurant’s rating, don’t be too quick to compare it with a rating from Darien).
Darien Health Director David Knauf said the department wanted to provide the public with more information on what inspectors were finding at restaurants they inspected.
People may notice that even restaurants with good ratings and excellent scores on the state ratings system (where “100” is a perfect score, with nothing found wrong, and points are deducted for each health code violation), there can be some rattling observations, like fruit flies or even moldy food in a walk-in cooler. Problems can pop up briefly at even very good restaurants.
Knauf has said the Darien Health Department is more concerned about ongoing problems that crop up again and again at some particular restaurant or other. Those tend to get a lower rating in Darien’s “plates” rating system, even if the state score looks very good, he said.
Our favorite state health code violation? Number 59: “No live birds, turtles or other animals (except guide dogs).” Although Number 56 is interesting, too: “Complete separation of living/sleeping quarters and laundry.”
(Expect future Darienite.com reports on health inspections to link to the full report on each restaurant. This article was changed, with some added information and editing for clarity on Wednesday morning, Dec. 9.)