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Thursday, 27 November 2014

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Top Carlisle bistro told to clean up its act

A top bar and bistro owned by Carlisle nightlife king John Van Lierop has been told to clean up its act after inspectors found poor hygiene standards in its kitchen.

Gilded Lily photo
Gilded Lily

The Gilded Lily in Lowther Street – one of the most fashionable fixtures on the city’s social scene – was given a food hygiene rating of just one and told it needs to make a major improvement.

The inspectors said the level of cleanliness they found in their January 20 inspection – just weeks before Chancellor George Osborne enjoyed lunch there – was “unsatisfactory”.

As well as finding cracked and missing wall tiles in the kitchen, and a dirty ice making machine, they highlighted several areas where more regular in-depth cleaning was needed, including:

  • Fridges and freezers
  • Door handles
  • The walls
  • The light switches
  • The kitchen floor

They said the kitchen floor was covered in a “significant quantity of food debris” while the floor behind the bar was also not acceptable, with parts of it being “holed”.

“Adequate measures have not been taken to prevent people from falling,” said the summary of the inspection.

Commenting on the dirty interior of the ice machine, the inspectors said: “This machine should be switched off, emptied and then thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. The machine should be maintained in a clean condition.”

The document said effective cleaning and disinfection could not be done at the time of the inspection because there was a lack of appropriate disinfectants.

“A suitable disinfectant should be purchased as a matter of urgency,” said the inspectors’ letter.

The inspectors – from Carlisle City Council’s environment health team – also noted the colour coded chopping boards in the kitchen were badly scoured.

They said: “This could result in the shedding of plastic particles and make it difficult for the surface to be effectively cleaned and disinfected. Do not use the chopping boards and remove them from the premises.

“It is recommended new colour coded chopping boards are purchased.”

The sternest warning from the inspectors concerned the business’s failure since September last year to keep proper records of how it is taking action to minimise food safety hazards.

They add: “This was a requirement from the last inspection on June 28, 2012 and failure to comply with this requirement at future visits will result in formal action by this department.”

Reacting to the inspectors’ report, Mr Van Lierop said: “We’ve done everything they recommended and we’re taking it seriously. We’ve brought in a proper book-keeping system.

“I’ve been quite upset by this. I have five or six chefs working there and it’s a very busy place. We do a lot of food, so it’s all the more reason why you should have higher standards.

“I’d be happy for the News & Star to bring your cameras into my kitchens and look around my premises. When you get a one-star rating people automatically think ‘cockroaches,’ but I don’t live like that.

“I am very proud of my businesses.”

Mr Van Lierop owns some of Carlisle’s best known nightspots, including Hell Below & Co on Devonshire Street, and Concrete nightclub on Lowther Street.

The review website Trip Advisor currently has 180 reviews of the Gilded Lily, and of these 77 rate it as excellent and 52 as very good. Average and poor ratings are given by 19 people for both categories and only 13 people concluded that it was terrible.

Some reviewers describe the food as “fantastic” and “amazing” while one of the more recent posts says that it was “mediocre and overpriced.”

All English local authorities give food businesses hygiene ratings ranging from one to five.

A five rating means that the food hygiene is very good.

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