Absolute Bagels, the bagel spot at 108th and Broadway considered by many to be the best on the Upper West Side, was shut down by the health department this week, and it’s been doing a pretty good job hiding it.

The reason behind Absolute Bagels’ closing was initially a bit of a mystery when we first heard about it Friday. A sign on the door says it’s closed until Wednesday, but the gate that protects the store at night was halfway down for a couple of days, which gave the impression that they’re trying to hide something: a health department notice pasted to the door, perhaps?

When we called on Friday, an employee said they were “cleaning.” On Saturday someone else said they were “renovating,” and said the health department hadn’t shut them down. As of Saturday the health department had no recent inspection data about Absolute Bagels, but on Sunday the results went up: and they weren’t good.

The restaurant hit the health violation trifecta: Mice, roaches and flies — en route to racking up 73 points. Anything above 27 points is considered worthy of a C grade at best. The last two inspections also weren’t promising: both times mice or evidence of mice were found and both times the restaurant got a C grade.

Here are the details of the Thursday inspection that closed the place to shut down:

Sanitary Violations
1) Cold food item held above 41º F (smoked fish and reduced oxygen packaged foods above 38 ºF) except during necessary preparation.
2) Raw, cooked or prepared food is adulterated, contaminated, cross-contaminated, or not discarded in accordance with HACCP plan.
3) Appropriately scaled metal stem-type thermometer or thermocouple not provided or used to evaluate temperatures of potentially hazardous foods during cooking, cooling, reheating and holding.
4) Evidence of mice or live mice present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
5) Live roaches present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas.
6) Filth flies or food/refuse/sewage-associated (FRSA) flies present in facility’s food and/or non-food areas. Filth flies include house flies, little house flies, blow flies, bottle flies and flesh flies. Food/refuse/sewage-associated flies include fruit flies, drain flies and Phorid flies.
7) Food not protected from potential source of contamination during storage, preparation, transportation, display or service.
8) Food contact surface not properly washed, rinsed and sanitized after each use and following any activity when contamination may have occurred.
9) Facility not vermin proof. Harborage or conditions conducive to attracting vermin to the premises and/or allowing vermin to exist.
10) Pesticide use not in accordance with label or applicable laws. Prohibited chemical used/stored. Open bait station used.
11) Food contact surface not properly maintained.

Photo by Katie. Thanks to Erin for the tip.

FOOD, NEWS | 6 comments | permalink
    1. Josh says:

      Don’t even care, the bagels are heaven. Can’t wait until bit reopens.

      • Cato says:

        After this report, aren’t you going to wonder even a *teensy* bit what all the luscious crunchies are on the poppy seed and “everything” bagels??


    2. Susan says:

      Do not order the “everything” bagel.

    3. Raymond says:

      The place is a dump. These people do not care,all they care about is making money.
      Garden of Eden is better.

    4. Barbara Oseth says:

      We are visiting NYC for the first time in October 2014 for only 2 1/2 days. I have been searching out where to get the best New York Bagel while there. I had put Absolute Bagels, Upper West Side on my itinerary because it seems to be at the top of almost everyone’s list of the best, but then I came across these articles about the Health Department shutting them down in 2013 and the issues listed seem to be pretty serious health issues. It seems like most of their patrons love their bagels so much they don’t seem to care, but I was wondering if anyone knows when they were last inspected? And if they have maintained their “A” rating since they reopened after the 2013 shut down?