We’ve all heard horror stories about restaurants…sewage leaking into the kitchen, mice in the stew, it’s enough to put you off eating out for life. But don’t fear! We’ve come up with 10 ways to make sure your favourite restaurant is a safe one. And you don’t even have to sneak into the kitchen…
1) Find out their hygiene rating
If a restaurant has a good hygiene rating, they will be happy to display it. It might be a certificate in the window, or on the wall somewhere or it may be on their website. If you have to dig too far to find their latest inspection report then it should set alarm bells ringing.
2) Read other customer reviews
Nowadays, you don’t have to work too hard to find out what other people think of your favourite eatery. Websites like Google+ and Trip Advisor can give you up-to-date user reviews of local restaurants, so look out for bad ones. Trust me, if someone suspects they’ve gotten food poisoning from somewhere they will definitely write about it somewhere. You just have to find it!
3) Look for the small details
When you go in, look under your table and around your chair. Are there crumbs, stained patches or dust? If there are it suggests the restaurant isn’t that fussy about details. If you can’t find anything wrong, you should feel pretty confident.
4) Check the customer washroom facilities
A pretty easy test – is there antibacterial soap in the customer bathrooms and are they clean? If not, you can assume the staff ones are even worse, and you don’t want unwashed hands preparing your food!
5) Have a close look at your server
Unwashed hands aren’t the only warning sign when it comes to staff. When they come to take your order, look out for dirty or flaking fingernails, and make sure they don’t touch their hair too much – they may not handle your food for long, but they need to be up to food hygiene standards, just like the kitchen staff.
6) Order a drink
The bartender is another person who handles food but isn’t immediately obvious. If there’s a bar, go and have a look at what the bartender’s doing and make sure they’re washing their hands before handling any glasses or foodstuffs (like fruit for your drink). If they’re hygiene-compliant then it’s a sign that the chefs probably are too.
7) Walk past the kitchen
You don’t need to go into the kitchen to get a feel for whether it’s safe or not. Walk by and have a good sniff – all you should smell is lovely food cooking. If there’s any hint of over-ripe food garbage, then steer well clear.
8) Feel the menus
Another indicator that your restaurant cares about the small details is how the menus feel. Are they sticky to the touch? If they are, you have to wonder how many people have handled them since the last time they were wiped down…
9) Have a look at your cutlery and glass
Same test with the cutlery – is it shiny enough that you can see your face in it? Any blemishes indicate a problem with their dishwasher, and that suggests that the germs may still be lingering from the last person. Choose places with only the freshest-looking glasses and silverware.
10) Go with your instincts
Have you ever read a newspaper story about a restaurant being shut down and thought “I knew there was something off about that place!”? We have instincts for a reason – if you feel like a restaurant has an unclean feel, then it’s your brain telling you to get out. Listen to it!
Until next time,
Peace, love and vitamin C!
Jennifer Pretty began her career as the director of artist development for a well-known Canadian music label. Branching out on her own, she then started her own PR business “Pretty Media Management” planning and hosting various charity, entertainment and fashion events. As a dance and fitness class enthusiast Jennifer is a firm believer in the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle. She also loves to cook, travel, spend time with family and friends and most importantly living life to the fullest!