A tiny Upper West Side restaurant with critically acclaimed burgers racked up so many health violations last week that the city stepped in and shut the place down. Harriet’s Kitchen at 502 Amsterdam Avenue between 84th and 85th Streets has just two tables, but it’s a well-known spot for take-out and delivery. The restaurant was closed from last Tuesday until Friday after inspectors found mice or evidence of mice, live roaches, and lots of other signs that sanitary conditions were not up to snuff, including this doozy: “Hand washing facility not provided in or near food preparation area and toilet room.”

The restaurant’s 71 violation points came on top of an inspection last month when the restaurant racked up 41 points, and an inspection last October that resulted in 93 violation points. That’s miles above the 28-point threshold where the city starts singling out restaurants for special oversight.

Harriet’s burgers have gotten some good reviews, including from Eating in Translation, which said the restaurant serves “the best burger on the Upper West Side.”

“This medium rare burger (with fries; $6.75) was beautifully charred outside and exceptionally juicy inside.”

Serious Eats has also chimed in on those moist meat-patties: “The Harriet’s Kitchen regular ($7.75 with fries, half-pound cheeseburger (I wish it was smaller) was well-charred, juicy, and cooked exactly as I ordered it, medium-rare. That’s no small feat for a delivered burger (delivered in twenty minutes, I might add). The fries were fresh, not frozen, properly salted, and twice-cooked, as all good fries are. Finally, the grilled onions were cooked through to a golden brown. Not caramelized, but damn good nonetheless.”

Here’s the kicker: Harriet’s reopened Friday, even after a follow-up inspection where health inspectors once again found live roaches and evidence of mice or live mice in the restaurant.

According to the health department, restaurant scores on the agency’s website may not be final. The restaurants are entitled to a hearing by the department, which can result in changes to the scores.

Photo by roboppy via flickr.

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