The Scores on the Doors

Brockley Central has always taken a rather cavalier attitude towards food safety - we know McDonald's has built a global empire on cleanliness, but it's never concerned us too much. We have paid for that approach with unpleasant consequences twice - once in Singapore and once in Hong Kong. But never in Brockley, despite eating locally on a regular basis. And we hope it stays that way, however...

The Your London website provides a "Scores on the Doors" service, which lets the public see how restaurants have fared in food safety inspections. And it pains us to say this, but few of our local restaurants emerge with much credit.

The data on the site comes from local food inspections - most of which are pretty recent. There is a basic scoring system of 0-5 stars. Zero being "very poor" ("little or no appreciation of food safety") and five being "excellent".

A quick search yielded the following results for our favourite locals. It comes to something when City Noodles is one of our best-performing fooderies.

3 stars

The Broca

2 Stars

La Lanterna
Brockley Jack
City Noodles

1 star

Jam Circus
La Querce
Meze Mangal
Brockley Kitchen
Fishy Business

No stars

Moonbow Jakes
Toads Mouth Too
Just Thai Thai


Unknown said...

A lil' bit o' grime never hurt nobody...

Sounds like the sanitation police had kittens over Mangal's open flame...

Anonymous said...

Doesn't surprise me about Toad's Mouth 2 - the kitchen/cooker area always looks filthy.

In Singapore, the cafes/restaurants have to display their hygiene ratings in a prominent place, which does the trick of ensuring they are all up to scratch.

Good for the Broca - streets ahead of the competition anyway.

Brockley Nick said...

Not quite all of them, I can assure you! I now live by a simple rule - if your mussels taste "gritty", stop eating them.

But I agree, publicising standards is probably the best way of raising them.

Bea said...

Not surprised to see TM2 and Moonbows in the no star category - might be high up there on atmosphere but pretty lax about food standards. I've had a dodgy tasting tuna melt at Moonbows before and at TM2 the tables always feel a little sticky / grubby although the food seems fine up to now.

Glad to see City Noodles with a 2 rating - that's where my Friday night super always comes from.

nburdy said...

excellent that they're public, hopefully management at moonbows can pull their finger out, 0 stars is just ridiculous.

Anonymous said...

While I'm all for highlighting these issues, I think one must read this kind of data with an open mind. I have been a regular at many places on the list, as have many of my friends and have never once had cause to worry about an upset stomach. In fact for anyone who ever leaves the Toads Mouth Too towards kicking out time, the staff are always ferociously scrubbing things clean from what I can tell.

Anonymous said...

Meze Mangal surely deserves 3 stars? I can't understand that!

No mention of Cafe Blanca, and have seen many posts praising it on here - but then they seem to be under new management and maybe less of the delicious Moroccan specialities on offer.

Anonymous said...

We had a takeaway from Meze Mangal last year and haven't been back. Very disappointing. Greasy and cheap cuts.

Babur and BBC from now on, with Cinnamon on the list of provisionals.

Pete said...

I went to babur for the first time last night. It is amazing (as I'm sure many of you know).

Anonymous said...

On our list having been impressed by their delivery service.

Brockley Jon said...

I've been to Meze Mangal on more occasions than I can remember (perhaps illustrating the demand for a few more restaurants in the area!). I've always found the meat lean and tasty, and have never had cause to worry about hygiene.

I can't understand this rating system anyway - surely places with one or less stars should be in danger of being shut down? If that's the case, we'd lose most of our best restaurants! :(

"Zero stars" conjures up visions of furry food and scummy surfaces, and I'm sure that's not the case!? My Moonbows Platter has always been well prepped and tasty.

God I hope my missus doesn't read this thread, or we're never going out in Brockley again...

p.s. yes, Babur is amazing.

BrockleyBiker said...

Tbh if you were to apply the star rating to your average kitchen at home, places out and about no longer look so bad.

Anonymous said...

The problem with these rating systems is that you need to know what the criteria they are looking at. I've stayed in many 5 star hotels have been much poorer than some 3 star ones. The reason they achieved their five star rating had nothing to do with the rooms but was because they had things like conference facilities, a shop, and an on site hairdressers!

Anonymous said...

good luck finding those in a brockley eatery

Jam Circus said...

As a defence for all (or most!) Brockley eateries mentioned on this list, this new rating system is very frustrating for anybody running a business serving food.

I can assure everybody the standard of hygiene at Jam Circus is impeccable, but we were extremely upset about our rating, which was let down by the fact that 1 person could not lay hands on the correct paperwork (essentially documentary evidence of hygiene processes that are nonetheless carried out).

The lady who oversees food hygiene in Lewisham, having known Jam Circus and its standards for some time, was very surprised to say the least, and upon a follow-up visit (not reflected in the star rating) was perfectly happy with our standards of practice and the paperwork to support it.

We have two excellent and hard-working chefs who pride themselves on cleanliness and I would be happy to show anybody our kitchen in action if they so wished!

Anyway, I hope this doesn't reflect too badly on some of the other hard-working businesses in Brockley and nobody is put off eating out in the future!


Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Saint said...

Andy Pandy,
I think we should all be very careful with these sweeping statements. If you think you did get food poisoning from the Toads Mouth then you should have reported it because food poisoning is a serious complaint against any restaurant. If you went back and got food poisoning again and still didn't complain, then you're a very silly boy.

I shuddered when I read Nick's posting about these star ratings because although we are all entitled to know if there is a dodgy e-coli farm on our doorstep, the ratings system doesn't tell the whole story - i refer to Jam Circus posting.
As someone who wants to see Brockley thrive and prosper as much as anyone I worry that this information will be taken entirely the wrong way.

Zero stars does not mean that the restuarant is serving dodgy, poisoned food, but that is the way the article comes across. The last thing we want are decent, local places to struggle and close down because of bogus information. This kind of mud sticks.

Nick, as a connected issue, I think as the guardian of this website you have a duty to treat these stories with care. You are usually very even handed in my opinion, and this is not really a criticism, but "Do you want E. Coli with that?' although pithy, is a little misleading and smacks of negativity.

I'm not saying that this info should be buried or kept from the forum to make out that Brockley is all great, (it's not) but the article's tone and content leaves one with the conclusion that there are only two places safe to eat in Brockley, which is not the case.

Brockley Nick said...

@ The Saint

Yes, I accept that these stories need to be treated carefully and I understand that a star rating is an oversimplification. Perhaps the headline was too strong - as I indicate in the copy, I don't actually worry too much about these things myself and I won't let it put me off eating locally. However, I felt it was appropriate to publicise the issue and I am conscious that this site needs to offer balance. I think Brockley is great and want to see it get better. I don't want to damage local businesses, I want to see them improve.

Nonetheless, a zero star rating is, I believe, a serious issue, regardless of the extenuating circumstances and I certainly feel people ought to know. As does the GLA, who produced the site. The site does publish responses that restaurants have provided by way of explanation and it's a pity none of the Brockley places have taken that opportunity. I applaud Jam Circus for their response.

I agree with the point that claiming to have had food poisoning is a serious allegation and I would request that no-one else makes those claims unless proven.

I will change the headline to something less sensationalist. I have no wish to turn this in to a Brockley version of the Daily Mail.

Anonymous said...

Don't start me on the Daily Mail, the same media group owns The Standard. My favourite headline?


Now THAT'S a headline.

Anonymous said...

Soz Saint, I made an error - the words "I'm sure" should be replaced with either " I personally believe" or " I think".

But that aside, I actually spoke to the owner about the conduct of her staff (seemingly going from one side of the counter to the opposite side to mingle for instance) and she wasn't bothered at all - so the lack in 'control environment' fits in this instance for a big zero rating.

Hopefully next time the owner of TM2 will treat paying customers with abit more respect (and it helps her trade).

Anonymous said...

Hi Nick,

Another side issue :o)

My understanding of a blog is that all comments are treated as hearsay rather than fact in a court of law, no comments can be treated as evidence unless it can be proved - beyond doubt - that the person in question actually wrote the comment (which even with technology being what it is very hard to prove unless you physically sit next to the person).

I don't wish to offend anyone/any company but I get a slight shiver up my spine when open debate is constrained due to one person being upset with someone elses comments. I suggest re-instating my last post so everyone can see it - I have already posted a correction to this and once again I apologise for any offence caused to the blogger 'The Saint'.

The Saint said...

Andy Pandy,

You certainly didn't offend me and I wasn't about to send the thought police around your house. I am simply concerned about the misleading nature of these kind of ratings. If a small restaurant is labelled dirty or potentially posionous the ramifications can be huge, particularly when they may not even be aware and able to defend their position, as in the case of Jam Circus. As a Brockley dweller who has eaten at many of those places many times i was just trying to make up the lost ground between my own experiences and the supposed rating. In terms of the legal situation with making these statements I have no idea about that - that's not my area. I read yours and Nick's initial responses and was satisfied with both.

Bea said...

What has been said regarding supporting small business may be true but surely not at the expense of something like food poisoning which, lets not forget, can in some instances be fatal and not just a couple of very unpleasant days hanging over a bucket. As the inspection is carried out by the Environmental Health Department of Lewisham I would hope that their judgment is without bias.

A no star rating is received for the following reasons:

Very poor: A general failure to comply with legal requirements. Little or no appreciation of food safety. Major effort required.

This is surely enough cause for any establishment to address their approach to “food hygiene and safety legislation… the structural conditions of the premises and … (ability of the) … management to handle food safely”. I would hope that the legal requirements are there to protect the consumer and that any establishment I choose to eat in adheres to them.

Moonbow Jakes, Ecosium, Toads Mouth Too and Just Thai Thai all have a zero. This has given me serious doubts about eating at these places again – all of which I have frequented. I hope they take their zero rating to heart and improve.

The Saint said...

This is my point exactly.
Do you know what those legal requirements are ?

It is quite possible that those legal requirements may have less to do with the risk of getting food poisoning, than the fact that the oven has got to be 86inches and a half inches high or some other sweeping government criteria. As somebody earlier mentioned our own homes probably would not pass the test.

I'm not playing down the seriousness of food poisoning, like i said, if you've had it then report it. But until we hear of people we know or via this blog, and coming out and saying that they have contracted food poisoning from one of Brockleys restaurants i think we shouldn't rush to judgment.

Boycotting the restaurants is your perogative but if you've been eating at these places for a while and enjoyed your food without cause for worry, I think it's a bit of an over reaction.

Your posting is exactly the reason I shuddered when I read Nick article - what did I say Nick?

The Saint said...

I have investigated this star rating a little further and a quick search has discovered that some of the criteria is about the facilities the premises has and also the 'confidence of managment' neither of which are neccesarily to do with hygiene. Another quick search unearthed that in April this year Gordon Ramsay's at The Savoy Hotel only rated two stars.
So perhaps a new thread could be THE BROCA BETTER THAN THE SAVOY- ITS OFFICIAL!

Anonymous said...

I rather like the Brocca headline - keep them coming!

Saint, I would disagree with your slant re:

"some of the criteria is about the facilities the premises has and also the 'confidence of managment' neither of which are neccesarily to do with hygiene".

They are exactly associated with hygine - for eg. if the facilities included only one toilet/wash facility then clearly there is higher hygiene risks associated when the facility is out of action compared to if there was second one customers could use.

Simairly the control environment issue. If the Manager (who would of undoubtedly had to pass a H&S, Hygine courses to get their licence) had effective control over their employees then there is transferable skills passed on that reduce hygience and H&S risks.

It's EXTREMELY important that all businesses - small and large - comply with these requirements. If something bad gets in our food chain then it can have serious consequences.

Unless you know the specific rationale as to why the council deem the test appropriate then it is hard to deem them inappropriate.

Other tests include whether or not the plates etc.. are chipped as these pass on bacteria. In TM2 - they are mostly chipped, and on my visits it is dirty there so i think i did contract something rather unpleasent!

I also think it has got worse there over time, so i'm saying that i never enjoyed my visits - merely that - in my opinion - they have failed to keep on top of things adequately.

Anonymous said...

Error -

I also think it has got worse there over time, so i'm NOT saying that i never enjoyed my visits - merely that - in my opinion - they have failed to keep on top of things adequately.

The Saint said...

Andy Pandy, Here are the details to the toads mouth inspection, which incidentally happened about a year and a half ago. Draw your own conclusions.

Inspection rating scores

Type of food 30
Method of processing 0
Consumers at risk 5
Vulnerable groups 0
Food hygiene 15
Structure and facilities 15
Confidence in management 20
Significance of risk 0
Total Score 85
Inspection Rating Category B

A score of 0-5 is excellent: Very high standards of food safety management. Fully compliant with food safety legislation.

A score of 10-15 is very good: Good food safety management. High standard of compliance with food safety legislation.

A score of 20-25 is good: Good level of legal compliance. Some more effort might be required.

A score of 30 is broadly compliant: Broadly compliant with food safety legislation. More effort required to meet all legal requirements.

A score of 35-45 is poor: Poor level of compliance with food safety legislation – much more effort required.

A score of 50 or over is very poor: A general failure to comply with legal requirements. Little or no appreciation of food safety. Major effort required.

Maybe I'm reading it wrong (perhaps someone can look at this further) but it seems to back up what I was thinking.

Anonymous said...

what a total surprise NOT when we first arrived we went to Mr Lawrence - total rubbish - coming from North London down to Brockley was a gastronomic shock to the system. If you want a good barometer of how clean an eating or drinking establishment is look no further than the loos - in which case stick Cafe Neu on the big fat hairy zero list - talk about filthy

Anonymous said...

what a total surprise NOT when we first arrived we went to Mr Lawrence - total rubbish - coming from North London down to Brockley was a gastronomic shock to the system. If you want a good barometer of how clean an eating or drinking establishment is look no further than the loos - in which case stick Cafe Neu on the big fat hairy zero list - talk about filthy

Anonymous said...

While we are on Chez Ecossium - has anyone ever eaten in a more crap place - do these people think we are desperate in Brockley or something and that any old B******s will do....oh yes we are desperate you are right - bring on the French deli and I throw out the challenge to any good Ramsay equivalent - save us from all this mediocrity

Bea said...

It would appear that this method of scoring is very strange as it is possible to get a very good in all eight categories and still score 80 which would put an establishment very easily into the no star category.

Or even excellent in six categories with a score of 5 each and good in two categories with a score of 10 (totalling 50 points) and it would still get no stars.

Very misleading for the consumer – i.e. is the place clean and safe or not?! How should we be able to judge a place this way?

Sort of begs the question - why bother at all with rating the places if the results are so skewered?

The Saint said...

Zero means excellent though....

The Saint said...

It does seem very confusing. Maybe they have their own secret criteria which doesn't appear on the website but this has been my point all along. If Ramsay can only acheive two stars at the savoy then either we believe that he's running a kitchen on a par with City Noodles or that the stars system is flawed.

Anonymous said...

I think I must be stupid, but if a higher score means a worse rating, how come Brockley Kitchen who have 75 points gets one star, whilst Moonbows who received 65 points get zero stars?

Anonymous said...

My understanding of the above is that a zero rating means you are legally compliant, any positive marks mean you are marked down for not being legally compliant in that area.

...abit like the UK driving test (pratical) whereby you get marks for minor failures etc... Too many minor marks and you fail the test!

.. I think it is an interesting question though and all ratings can appear misleading to those who don't know how to interpret them (myself included). It would be really useful for Nick to ask his contacts in Lewisham council to explain how the marking scheme works..

...How about it Nick - future topic maybe?

Anonymous said...

I spoke to Lewisham Council's Environmental Health Team about Scores on the Doors yesterday. The officer there confirmed that the scores are based on the results of hygiene inspections that they carry out, though you are not able to access the full inspection report from the site. We're now linking to "Scores on the Doors" from our website.

max said...

A question for the Council man.

Are you going to close down the outlets that scored zero? One would normally understand that an cafe or restaurant that scores zero in hygiene is filthy and you're going to get e-coli.

If you're not closing them down why are you publicizing these results?

By publicizing these results you are quite likely to damage those commercial operators when the fault could be instead in the Council's scoring system.

Anonymous said...

We've made this information available via our website, as it is information that is regularly requested using the rights granted by the Freedom of Information Act. It's common practice for us to make this type of information available via our website.

All inspections are undertaken in accordance with the Food Safety Act, European Communities Act (and their regulations) and the Food Standard Agency's code of practice and guidance. Our Environmental Health Team adhere to these regulations.

I'm happy to answer more questions about our website. But, I'm afraid I can't answer detailed questions about the inspection of premises and enforcement of regulations, though you are welcome to address these to our Environmental Health Team, whose contact details are on our site.

Anonymous said...

I was in Brighton at the weekend at a pub that had a 'we got five stars' sticker in the window. How hard can it be?

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