#vareli
Heads, Tails, and Roast Quails

David Petraeus may or may not referee your coin toss; photo via Wikimedia Commons.

What, you ask, could be more fun, more festive, more downright Mediterranean than a casual business lunch at Fancy Campo Fancy Westside Vareli? Well, how about the possibility of a free casual business lunch at Fancy Campo Fancy Westside Vareli?, along with the added adrenal thrill of a game of chance?

That’s what you’re getting with Vareli’s new coin flip lunch: when it comes time to pay, you flip a coin and call it in the air. If you’re right, lunch is on the house; if you’re wrong, you’re paying. The promotion (which, sadly, doesn’t include alcohol; we’re sure there’s a drinking game in there somewhere) starts today and runs through October 8th.

Morningside Heights Is A Den Of Filth

Media Luna Mexican Deli did not fare so well.

The Health Department is, as of this summer, requiring that every restaurant in New York display the letter grades they most recently received for cleanliness.

This is a nightmare for everyone; it’s rare that any restaurant will sneak away with no health violations. The grades will be assigned during the next year, when the Health Department conducts its next rounds of inspections. The grades will be issued as follows: 0-13 points gets an A, 14-27 a B, and 28 and above a C. You know, like Calc II.  This numbered rating system, however, is due to be made more lenient (after all, who cares about burned-out lightbulbs?) before the letter grades are assigned so the correlation between numbers and letters isn’t accurate just yet.

In the meantime, that Health Department has created a website that lists the violations of every restaurant in the city after their most recent inspection. The results from Morningside are occasionally surprising (Hewitt/John Jay) and generally terrifying (there are mice everywhere). Here’s a list of the most popular Columbia restaurants and bars. We note when they were most recently reviewed and pick their most notable violations. Individual links don’t work, but if you want to go through every single one of them, go here for 10025 and here for 10027 and start clicking. These restaurants will probably maybe get their shit together in the next year so that they don’t get big old fat B’s in the window once the next round of inspections starts. We can but pray.

  • As of February 23rd, Deluxe, blissfully, has a mere 5 points for its plumbing (which a friend of Bwog’s may be partially accountable for, as she got her pregnancy test stuck in the toilet. Whoops!) Mill Korean has 2 points for plumbing.
  • Brownie’s, you are angelic. 0 points as of last September.
  • Vareli and Maoz each have 2 points, Maoz because it does not have an “immersion basket.” Noobs!
  • As of January, Koronet has a dazzling, sparkling 4 points for plumbing. The Heights also has 4 for mysterious pesticide use as of January.
  • Law School’s Lenfest has 7 for bad toilets as of last November.
  • Cafe East also has 7 as of May for improper cold food storage.
  • Cafe 212 has 8 for inadequate lighting improper “non-food contact surface” construction. So, phew. Last inspected last September.
  • As of last August, Symposium has only 5 points, even though the food sometimes tastes like it has been bathed in chlorine.
  • After a rough 62 violations in June 2009, Campo bounces back with 4.
  • Strokos has 9 violations as of January, one for cold food behind held above 41 ºF.
  • Carleton Lounge in Mudd has 9 as of last December for evidence of mice.
  • As of January, Dinosaur BBQ has 10 for bizarre internal food cooling/heating measures.
  • Ferris Booth gets 12 as of last December for improper cold food storage.
  • Lion’s Head gets 11 as of last February. “Evidence of mice or live mice.” Now it begins, friends.
  • Thai Market has 14 as of March, for improper cleaning.
  • As of May, Uris gets 14 for improper food surface cleaning.
  • JTS: 15, for evidence of mice as of February.
  • The Diana Cafeteria gets 14 as of April for improper cold food storage and undated or expired milk.
  • Heartbreak: M2M gets 15 as of July, for evidence of mice, improper cleaning, “evidence of flying insects” and “inadequate personal cleanliness.”
  • Butler Cafe got 18 in March for the thermometer rule and improper cold food storage.
  • As of June 4th, Ollie’s also gets 15 for cold food held above 41 ºF and evidence of mice.
  • La Negrita, or 999, or whatever, has 15 as of July 8th, but no mice!
  • As of June, Taqueria has 17 points (coulda been worse) for cold food held above 41 ºF but no vermin!
  • John Jay Dining Hall, the would-be mother of them all, got 18 last July for evidence of mice, rats and flying insects.
  • As of last September, Columbia Cottage has 21 points for cold food storage and some weird problem with a thermometer.
  • Le Monde was last inspected in April, and got 21 points for spoiled food. Fun fact: Bwog once found a caterpillar in our salad at Le Monde, but they were very nice about it.
  • Cannon’s, which the Health Department spells “Gannon’s” gets 21 for improper handwashing, a bad bathroom, etc. Last inspected in March.
  • Max Soha has 23 points as of January for mice, flying insects and improper food surface cleaning.
  • Kitchenette got 23 last December for roaches and improper cold food storage.
  • Some actually shocking news: Hewitt has 5 more points than John Jay, clocking in at 23 as of March, for food unprotected from contamination, improper thawing procedures, and improper lighting.
  • Roti Roll, or “Roti Rill” according to the Department, gets a 25 (still not a C, right!) for flying insects and improper cold food storage. Inspected in July.
  • Tom’s, last inspected in September 2009, gets 21 for the weird thermometer problem and improper cold food storage.
  • Vine, inspected in March, stores neither hot nor cold food correctly, and gets a 22.
  • As of March, Nussbaum has 23: evidence of mice.
  • Faculty House, fanciest place in the 100-27, gets 25 for evidence of mice and improper storage or usage of sanitized equipment as of March.
  • Havana Central has evidence of mice and spoiled food as of March; 24 points.
  • Inspected in January, 1020 shocks and awes with 22 points for improper handwashing facility/toilet area.
  • Hungarian: 22 points for evidence of mice and rats as of January.
  • We knew Pinkberry was made of weird animals. Well, psych, but it is apparently made of unpasteurized milk, earning it a whopping 30 points.

More listings, while we’re at it: in the Princeton Review 2011 college listings, Columbia was listed as being in a “great college town.” Unclear if that’s Morningside Heights or New York, but you make your own guesstimate. The Princeton Review also ranked the Top 20 best college newspapers. Guess who’s missing?

Update: And we almost forgot Pinnacle—21 points as of February, for evidence of mice, milk improperly dated/expired.

A Peek Inside Vareli

A very hungry Bwog stopped by Vareli a few minutes ago and learned it isn’t officially open until Monday. Still, last night, Laura Gabriele crossed the street from her usual perch at Campo and gave Bwog a preview.

She received a grand tour tonight from manager Nicholas Belegrinos: “The venue features a bar/lounge area which can be turned into a club (!!!) [Ed.: A club!!!] and a restaurant area upstairs with a small adorable patio. Also in the basement: gorgeous wine cellar and wine tasting possible!!”

“Food is affordable (cheaper than Community) and drink specials not yet decided but will be around $8-9…”

This is IT! Bwog has dispatched its crack culinary review team for a first taste on Monday. Here’s an early glimpse at the downstairs bar.

Photo: Laura Gabriele

Bwoglines: A Restaurant and Some Political Things

Vareli is finally, gloriously open!– ON MONDAY! So much more to come! (Vareli)

The Gowanus Canal has been designated an EPA Superfund site, which somehow means that its cleanup might be even more beset by bureaucratic inefficiency. (The New York Times)

The Helvidius Group/CU Journal of Politics and Society speaks with International Relations bigwig Professor Robert Jervis. (Helvidius)

NYPD’s counter-terrorist, pro-terrifying Hercules Unit will be toting some seriously big guns around Lincoln Center today.  Don’t worry, though–it’s just a drill. (Gothamist)

Keep digging, Charlie! Maybe you’ll get to China! (The New York Times)