Republic of Moreland

June 25, 2007

Outing Moreland’s filthy kitchens

Filed under: cafes & pubs,Coburg,crime,food,health,Pascoe Vale — Kath @ 12:42 am

2006 was the year of renovating, and consequently the year of takeaway dinners, many home-delivered. One morning, it occured to me that I always get the runs (sorry) after eating a meal from a particular Coburg Indian restaurant. Not an especially good — or even moderately good — Indian restaurant (are there any around here?), but a cheap one. At beer o’clock after renovating, almost anything will go down.

I thought little of it. But one evening, sitting down to orders from said restaurant, Bloke on The Avenue and I noticed a hair in our dinner. Deal with it, you might say. But this wasn’t any old hair. About 7cm long, it was exceptionally thick and coarse. It could only belong to an animal like a goat, or a camel. Or a llama, or mule, or wild pig. Then we noticed a second, and a third, and then dozens. We could only imagine what was going on in that kitchen.

We complained to Moreland Council, and played a little phone tennis before we gave up on the matter.

I’d had a very different Council experience not long beforehand. On a sweltering day, Little One and I went to the Queen’s Park Pool in Moonee Ponds. The pool was closed. Now, any parent of a preschooler knows disappointment on outings is to be avoided if you want to keep things nice. So I hastily offered to buy Little One a gelato at Queen’s Park’s ice-cream van. Something I’d never done before, because we’re principled about the kind of treats we encourage. Until that day, Little One knew ice-cream vans only as ‘music trucks’. (And don’t get me started on the crap listed on “kids’ menus” — as if kids are incapable of selecting the real food they’ve enjoyed for centuries. And don’t get me started about the thoughtless parents who succumb to this poisonous marketing.)

Anyway, as the man was scooping pink gelati into the cones with no serviette wrapped around them, I noticed his hands were covered in scabby sores, some weepy, and his fingernails were FILTHY. It was sickening, but I had one of those moments where it would seem embarrassing to make a fuss. And nor did I want to disappoint Little One yet again, no Sir.

On the other hand, I didn’t want to poison my child, either. So I paid for the cones, noticing that the van’s interior, too, was grimy, and I swiftly suggested a game of throw-gelati-at-the-seagulls. Thank heavens Little One thought that was much bigger fun than eating them. We came home unsullied and I called Moonee Valley City Council, which promptly undertook an inspection, and the next week told me they’d suspended the poor man’s license.

I have so many Moreland food stories, including the one where Sydney Road’s Three Stooges Café (now under new management) served a scone carpeted in mould. So it was interesting to read the article in yesterday’s Age about the limitation to Councils’ power to publish results of health inspections. Lord knows there are many that wouldn’t pass the test in Moreland. What was more interesting was the push to give:

councils the power to name premises that have been successfully prosecuted.

Overseas studies have demonstrated the health benefits of naming foul premises. After Los Angeles introduced a public grading system for restaurants in 1998, the number of food-borne hospitalisations decreased by 13 per cent.

Surely, then, there’s a public interest argument here?



  1. Of course, as every ‘Swicker Man and Woman knows, there’s that infamous Greek taverna on Sydney Road near the council chambers that defiantly remains open despite numerous court cases and complaints. And no, I’m not being coy for legal reasons — I just can’t remember what the bloody place is called.

    The guy still opens every evening and sits in there alone, watching the TV. Soon after we first moved into the area in 2002, myself and a group of others from Brizburg foolishly entered. Melbourne, Greek taverna, what could go wrong? The dust on tables and chairs should have tipped us off straight away, so too the total lack of other patrons. A quick glance through to the kitchen sealed it, and all six or seven of us then trooped out — to the accompaniment of colourful verbal abuse from the Malaka-in-Residence himself. A lovely entrée to local dining, that. Very New Brunswick.

    Here’s a special shout-out to you, dude, just for old times’ sake: Skata na fas, pousti malaka!

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — June 25, 2007 @ 12:33 pm | Reply

  2. i wonder with such a high Indain population in our area, why there are no good indian restaurants around? Ther used to be a decent one on Sydney road near Moreland road, but it’s gone now…

    I only cook my own Indian now, and it’s much better and I know exactly what’s in it. The Indian Supermarket on Sydney Road near Moore Street sells all the stuff you need to make great indian, minus any meat you might like to cook in it.

    Comment by Marty — June 25, 2007 @ 2:34 pm | Reply

  3. After a few years in the Netherlands where it’s perfectly legal to prepare food for a customer with bare hands while a cigarette laden with ash protrudes from your lips and hovers over proceedings and a cat walks past on the counter I’ve yet to come across any local horror stories. I was impressed with all the premises we saw while on the Sydney Rd Bakeries Tour and have returned to all of the places we visited to order pastries, pizzas, lamb, chicken and sweets for various feasts without mishap.

    Maybe if the council implemented a motivational scheme where premises that passed hygiene standard inspections were given a sticker to display on the door or window advertising the fact would provide more incentive for business owners. There is a dutch reality TV programme based on this (you wouldn’t believe how bad dutch tv can get) and it has in effect become a defacto ratings scheme highly sought after by many restaurants and cafes to distinguish them from the ‘bad guys’.

    Comment by faith — June 25, 2007 @ 3:14 pm | Reply

  4. Oh yes, carrot better than stick.

    (Marty, I can’t think of the shop you mean. The one I can think of, also on Sydney Road, keeps its Ghee and spices in the sun-lit window. I think it’s near the cnr of Blair St)

    Love the idea of reality show based on hygiene. Perhaps someone should devise a show like Carbon Cops… has anyone watched that?

    Comment by Girl on The Avenue — June 25, 2007 @ 3:46 pm | Reply

  5. Ah bad kitchens, bad food. Reminds me of the time I used to work in an all-night hamburger stand in Darwin. Our food was great (well, OK) but the bakery where we bought our buns was a sight to behold. The rats ran along the joists of the unlined tin shed and a big sweaty man in a singlet stood in the middle of the room wedging a huge lump of dough on a wooden slab. As he lifted the kneaded mass, 1000 flies would land and then take to the air as the dough descended. One day I was cutting all the buns in half, as one is required to do, and I found a very large cockroach inside a roll. If I’d cut a little to the right I would have missed the critter completely…
    (Sorry, this has nothing to do with Moreland, but true just the same.)

    Comment by leonaardo — June 25, 2007 @ 7:39 pm | Reply

  6. Send in the army! Compulsory inspections! Probe genitals! Remove hard drives! Let strangers walk through the bedroom!

    That’ll keep the littluns safe until after the election.

    The thing with those caffs with no-one in them – check the front room upstairs. See the groups of men staring at the table top. Hear the small pieces of paper thrown around. What could they be doing?

    Comment by david tiley — June 25, 2007 @ 8:53 pm | Reply

  7. It’s also worth noting that the High Court recently upheld a ruling that a bad restaurant review defamed said restaurant. They’re yet to rule, however, on whether fair comment and public interest defences apply in that case. Let’s hope they do, because the next target after food critics will probably be council inspectors.

    Comment by Bane of Malakas — June 28, 2007 @ 2:01 pm | Reply

  8. I love eating the much-feared pork rolls in Footscray. Well, I actually prefer a “combination roll”, which instead of barbecued pork, features several very exciting offally kinds of sausage, so it’s even more terrifying. But delicious. It’s the Fugu fish of the West.

    I like to imagine they’re the result of French imperialism in Vietnam – those crusty white baguettes spread with pate, then a whole heap of Vietnamese meats, a squirt of nuoc mam, crisp vegetables, lots of fresh coriander and some top-of the head-lifting chopped chilis…Mmmm I want one now.

    Comment by Helen — July 4, 2007 @ 8:15 pm | Reply

  9. […] from Republic of Moreland.) Bookmark […]

    Pingback by Atlanta restaurants only mildly dirty | Omnivore Atlanta — August 8, 2008 @ 10:27 am | Reply

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