‘Live flies on bread rolls,’ rodent holes force five South Florida restaurants temporarily shut

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Pests trampled across a bakery’s bread rolls and rodents gnawed holes into restaurant walls ahead of Thanksgiving weekend, forcing state inspectors to temporarily close five restaurants.

The eateries inspected last week included Al Salem Middle Eastern Restaurant in Plantation, Basilic Vietnamese Grill in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Le Berger Restaurant in Lake Worth, El Jalapeno in Lake Worth and La Belle Monique Restaurant and Bakery in Plantation.

The South Florida Sun Sentinel highlights restaurant inspections in Broward and Palm Beach counties from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. We cull through hundreds of restaurant and bar inspections that happen weekly and spotlight places ordered shut for “high-priority violations,” like improper food temperatures or dead cockroaches.

Sun Sentinel readers can browse full Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade county reports on our state inspection map, updated weekly (usually Monday) with fresh data pulled from the Florida DBPR website.

Any restaurant that fails inspections must stay closed until it passes a follow-up state inspection. If you spotted a possible violation and wish to file a complaint, contact Florida DBPR here. (But don’t contact us: The Sun Sentinel doesn’t inspect restaurants.)

Al-Salam Middle Eastern Restaurant, Plantation

Ordered shut: Nov. 22, reopened Nov. 24

Why: 16 violations (seven high priority), led by the “presence of insects, rodents or other pests,” including 40 live ants “crawling along wall” near the front entrance restaurant sign, and six live cockroaches “in dining area by wait station” underneath a buffet serving table, “crawling in container of utensils” in kitchen, and crawling on the floor of the dining room. (An employee later sanitized the utensils in the dishwasher.) The state also found six dead cockroaches beneath a food-processing mixer in the kitchen and inside an unused food container in the event space next to the dining room. Inspectors also ordered the restaurant to stop selling and trash its yellow rice and cut tomatoes “due to temperature abuse.” The state let the restaurant reopen Nov. 24 with a trio of small violations.

Basilic Vietnamese Grill, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea

Ordered shut: Nov. 18, reopened Nov. 19

Why: Nine violations (three high priority), such as 50 rodent droppings at the bar inside the dining room and “a water heater in [the kitchen’s] dry storage area.” Inspectors also discovered more “temperature abuse” issues involving the restaurant’s steak and noodles, and ordered Basilic to trash them both. A pair of basic issues during Basilic’s second inspection on Nov. 19 did not prevent the restaurant’s reopening.

Le Berger Restaurant, Lake Worth

Ordered shut: Nov. 15, reopened Nov. 16

Why: Inspectors spotted 10 violations (six high priority), led by this bone-chilling observation from the inspector: “Live rodent running across the ledge” of the kitchen freezer “entered a hole in the wall behind the reach-in cooler.” The offending vermin also left a pair of “droppings on hot water heater” and “gnawing marks around the hole in the wall.” (The state had shut down the restaurant three months earlier for similar rodent problems, among other offenses.) The state also discovered 12 dead cockroaches on two glue traps behind the kitchen reach-in cooler, and an employee discarded them both. The restaurant also was ordered to stop selling and throw away its cooked chicken due to temperature abuse. Le Berger was allowed to reopen Nov. 16 after the state discovered zero new issues.

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Ordered shut: Nov. 15, reopened the same day

Why: Nine violations (three high priority), including this head-scratcher: The Mexican-themed food truck had “no potable running water” thanks to a broken water pump, but opened for business anyway. Inspectors even spotted one employee washing his hands “using a bucket of warm water” instead of an “approved handwashing sink.” Despite having not fixed its running water during the inspectors’ second visit, the state somehow let the restaurant to reopen the same day.

La Belle Monique Restaurant and Bakery, Plantation

Ordered shut: Nov. 22, reopened Nov. 23

Why: 11 violations (four high priority), including 32 “live flies landing on bread rolls in kitchen” and on the walls near the kitchen’s mop sink. (Naturally, inspectors ordered the bakery to toss the rolls.) The state also spotted a can of Raid – but not a restaurant-grade pesticide – stored “on a rack holding single-use utensils,” as well as “employee bags, purses, cell phones” scattered around the kitchen. The state let the bakery reopen Nov. 23 after discovering two basic issues.

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