A handful of soap and a working sink could have gone a long way in keeping two Shelby County restaurants off the Scorecard this week.
The Memphis-Shelby County Health Department issued both Firebirds Rocky Mountain Grill, 4600 Merchants Park, Collierville, TN; and Dixie Queen, 4062 S. Third St., South Memphis, a score of 72.
The inspector's report on Firebirds cites turkey and burger patties at "possible hazardous food temperatures (PHF)"; "no hot water at hand sink" due to a broken part; and an "employee handling dirty dishes then clean dishes w/out washing hands in between."
I've eaten at that Firebirds. I had a wonderful experience. The manager, Mike Corder, is a good guy. In fact, he jumped at the chance to do an on-camera interview to answer the charges in the inspection report.
Leave it up to the corporate office to toss in a monkey wrench.
Steve Kislow, spokesperson for the Firebirds corporate office in Charlotte, NC, canceled our interview with Corder and insisted that we accept the following statement:
"Firebirds has the highest of sanitation standards and undergoes rigorous internal checklists and inspections to ensure a safe dining experience for our guests. The violations cited were corrected immediately and the equipment that had already been scheduled for repair at the time of the inspection was fully operational within hours of the completion of the inspection."
Now on to the Dixie Queen, where the report cites "the employee cooking is not washing his hands after touching raw meats and refrigerator door handles before prepping the food"; "RAID is stored on the shelve (sic) with the cleaners"; and "a roach is crawling on the floor in the storage area."
Manager Keisha Moffitt is delightful. She says the storage area is outside the restaurant, not inside, but she still has set traps out there for the nasty critters.
"The roach was on the outside, and if you could see, we can't control nothing on the outside," she says.
She says she also took the can of RAID off the cleaning shelf and reprimanded her cook for lousy hand hygiene.
THIS WEEK'S BIG TIP: Marlo's Down Under, 102 Court Square East Suite D.U., Covington, TN, (901) 475-1124, http://www.marlosdu.com/
Chef Nick Scott had a dream.
He dreamed some day his family would run a first class fine dining establishment in their hometown -- where there really isn't any fine dining establishment.
In 2005, the dream became Marlo's Down Under. Our viewers e-mailed 21 nominations for Marlo's Down Under as the Best Place to Eat in Covington, TN.
"Their food is just absolutely divine," says Leigh Smalley-Ward of Ripley, TN. "For the tri-county area that we live in - and even coming out of Memphis - it's nice to have fine dining somewhere near us."
Nick, dad Ron, mom Pat and brother Todd are always around, and they always make every customer feel like a VIP.
"If you've never been here before, and you walk in the door, they treat you like you come in all the time," says regular Sam Gillon of Covington, chomping on the Creole Beef Tenderloin sandwich (oh, so good!!)
WHAT ANDY LIKES: Asiago & Mozzarella Cheeseburger, Parmesan-encrusted Sea Bass, New England Blue Crab Cakes
For all of the week's Memphis-Shelby County restaurant scores, click here.