Kevin Fischer is a veteran broadcaster, the recipient of over 150 major journalism awards from the Milwaukee Press Club, the Wisconsin Associated Press, the Northwest Broadcast News Association, the Wisconsin Bar Association, and others. He has been seen and heard on Milwaukee TV and radio stations for over three decades. A longtime aide to state Senate Republicans in the Wisconsin Legislature, Kevin can be seen offering his views on the news on the public affairs program, "InterCHANGE," on Milwaukee Public Television Channel 10, and heard filling in on Newstalk 1130 WISN. He lives with his wife, Jennifer, and their lovely baby daughter, Kyla Audrey, in Franklin.
“I've visited and reviewed Coerper's many times and have always been put off by the place.
The late restaurant critic of the Milwaukee Journal sentinel, Dennis Getto was my friend. I had a high regard for Getto and his reviews.
I will never forget his scathing April 2003 review of one of the most popular steakhouses in town, Coerper’s 5 O’Clock Club, now known as the 5 O’Clock Steakhouse.
I dislike its loud, smoky atmosphere (numbers for orders are called over a loudspeaker; smokers are allowed at the bar and all tables), its ban on walk-ins (exceptions made, but who knows when?) and its cookie-cutter approach to grilled meats (they're all covered with the same dark crust and set in the same dark meat juice).
Coerper's sticks with an old-time Wisconsin tradition by making you sit down in the bar and order from there (presumably, while you also have a drink). If you are unlucky enough not to know the system, Jimmy will set you straight, pronto. I saw him bark at one clueless group of men who were milling around the hostess stand.
You are not required to ask permission to use the restrooms. If you do, be prepared to negotiate your way around a bottle of disinfectant bleach, a toilet brush and a plunger.
Most of the customers at Coerper's come for the red meat, and especially the steaks. With options in town like Mr. B's, the Chop House, Eddie Martini's, Mo's and Butch's Old Casino Steak House, I won't be joining them.”
As much as I liked and respected my friend, I thought Getto’s review was very unfair. A plunger in the restroom? Thank goodness it wasn’t in the kitchen.
Memories of my friend and that particular review were rekindled this past week when the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel updated its database on city of Milwaukee restaurant inspections.
Getto’s last roundup of his 30 best restaurants was written in June of 2007. The old Coerper’s, of course, never made his list because of that plunger, the toilet brush, the same au jus, etc. But many impressive restaurants did pass Getto’s scrutiny.
I decided to check on how the city of Milwaukee restaurants that made Getto’s top 30 list in June 2007 that are still around fared in the latest health inspections. Here’s what I found with the restaurant listed along with the latest inspection date(s):
Post the State certificate for your certified food manager Employees must properly wash their hands. Employee was seen running hands under water for 2 or 3 seconds then drying them. Proper hand washing should be using soap and water and vigorously washing hands for 15 to 20 seconds, rinsing and then drying with single service towels. Be sure all employees are aware of the proper hand washing procedure and following it. Several employees were noted touching ready to eat foods with bare hands. There is no bare hand contact policy at this establishment. See handouts given by inspector to apply for a bare hand contact approval. In the mean time all employees touching ready to eat foods must wear gloves, use tongs or deli paper or other acceptable method to avoid touching ready to eat foods. Raw meats are being cryovac sealed at the establishment. You must have a HAACP plan and have two barriers in place to control the growth of C. botulinum for vacuum packaging of food. The 2 barriers are met in keeping the food below 41 degrees and the food is raw meat, however you still need to have a HAACP plan on file. See handouts given by inspector for how to fill out a HAACP plan. The slicer has some old food debris on the back blade area. Also the large mixiing bowl in back kitchen area had some old food still visible on inside. Proeprly clean all equipmen to remove all old food debris and then properly sanitize. There was at least one cutting board in kitchen that was badly scored and uncleanable. Resurface or replace the board to return it to a cleanable smooth surface.
There was also a broken container in a cooler in the desert area of kitchen. Discard the broken container as it is no longer smooth and cleanable. Discard any other equipment that is broken as well.
4-205.11 There is a Kitchenaid mixer in the dessert area that is for home use only, it is not a commercial NSF approved peice of equipment. Remove the mixer from the kitchen. All equipment used in a commercial kitchen must be NSF or equivelent sanitation listed equipment.
1) There was a container of cooked bacon and some clean plates being stored on the hand wash sink at far end of main cook line. The hand wash sink is not a clean area for any type of food or food equipment storage. Store food and equipment in a clean sanitary area.
2) There was a cutting board siiting on the counter directly next to the hand wash sink for the salad prep area of the kitchen. Again this is not a clean surface for food prep of any kind. Either install a splash guard between the hand sink and counter area or discontinue to use this surface for food prep.
3) There is a dipper well installed in the counter directly behind a hand wash sink in the dessert area creating a possible contamination issue if there was a scoop stored in there. Do not use this dipper well or provide a seperation/splash guard between it and the hand wash sink.
Karl Ratzsch's 3/14/08
Several of the cutting boards in the kitchen are badly scored and unable to be properly cleaned. Replace or resurface any cutting surface that is no longer cleanable and smooth.
6-501.11 There is a roof leak over the kitchen areas and water is leaking into the kitchen through the ceiling tiles in a couple areas. Repair the roof to stop any water leaking into the kitchen. Do not use the 4 compartmetn sink for dishwashing until ceiling is fixed. The hand wash/prewash sink by the 4 compartment sink was being blocked by dirty dishes. This is the only hand wash sink in the area and must remain accessible at all times for hand washing. Some cooked meat that was being hot held had a wet cloth sitting directly on top of it. The cloth my not be used in direct contact with the food. Disconitue the use of cloths to keep food moist with direct contact. Dirty and clean wiping cloths are being stored in a drawer sitting directly on top of clean utensils. Diiscontinue to store cloths in same drawer as the clean utensils to prevent any possible contamination of hte food utensils. Some grease accumulation was noted under and between cooking equipment under the hoods. Clean all equipment, floors and walls to remove any grease or dirt that has built up.
The Savoy Room 8/12/08
No hand towels at the hand sink by the back door. Provide single service toweling for all handsinks. An employee was doing prep work in the basement when I arrived. There is not a hand sink in the basement. Discontinue doing food prep in the basement or install a hand sink in the basement. The cook used bare hands to place cooked onions on a burger. Employees may not touch ready-to-eat food with their bare hands. Use utensils or gloves to handle ready to eat food. Raw meats on shelf above Granita frozen dessert in freezer. Store all raw animal foods below and away from all ready to eat foods. The consumer advisory was missing from some menu's and was incomplete. Add an asterisk to each item on the menu that is available raw or undercooked. Make sure all menu's have the complete advisory. See the attached handout for details.
Jackson Grill 9/26/08
No consumer advisory posted for required items. Provide an appropriate advisory for raw or undercooked animal foods to Code and asterisk or otherwise mark these items in the menu.
a) A few flies noted inside of kitchen areas. Provide effective pest control to eliminate flies.
b) Bag of rodent bait lying on floor near ice machine in basement. Remove from premise. Only approved means of pest control can be used in areas where food is held/served, etc. Not all required foods being datemarked (cooked ribs, etc.) All potentially hazardous food held for more than 24 hours must be clearly marked to indicate the day by which the food is to be consumed on the premise, sold, or discarded. Use a 7 day use-by date. Cook using broken/chipped spatula. Remove spatula from use -no longer easily cleanable. Cook not aware of proper reheating temperatures. Refer to Food Code Fact sheets given to operator on cooking, reheating, and proper cooling techniques. Make certain that temperatures are being monitored during all phases of cooking/reheating/cooling. The Person In Charge must make sure the requirements of the Food Code are followed
a) Walls/ceiling/interior of hood, etc. very greasy. Clean/remove grease build-up on all surfaces.
b) Broken, greasy coverplate on outlet to right of utensil sinks in kitchen. Replace with approved cover.
c) Floor underneath fryer has grease residue. Clean floor area and sides of fryer (greasy). Open beverage on salad prep table in kitchen. Any employee beverage must be covered and stored in an area not subject to contamination of food/food surfaces. Pans, bowls, etc. stored upright on shelves. All items must be stored inverted on shelves.
Post the State certificate for your certified food manager There was little to no date marking on ready to eat potentially hazardous foods in the coolers. All ready to eat potentially hazardous foods held for more than 24 hours must be marked with a 7 day use by date. There was no sanitizer solution set up in the kitchen during food prep. Wiping cloths are left out on food prep surfaces. Set up and maintain sanitizer solution in the kitchen and instruct employees to keep wiping cloths in the buckets in between uses. Potentially hazardous food must be held hot at 135 degrees or above. There was a container of garlic oil and saut?ed onions that were at 60 degrees. These are potentially hazardous foods and must maintain the proper holding temperatures.
1) The ceiling in nearr the cook line in kitchen is browned from grease off the cook line. Be sure all equipment is under the hood properly so hood can capture. Clean all ceiling tiles to remove grease accummulation.
2) There was a ceiling tile removed near sink area of kitchen. Replace the missing ceiling tile. All toxic materials must be stored so they will not contaminate food. Some spray bottles of sanitizer and other chemicals werre stored hanging on a shelf directly next to clean dishes. Store the chemicals below and away from food and equipment. The plumbing on the food prep sink is air breaked, but nor air gapped. There must be an adequate gap between the piping and the drain in the floor; the pipe may not sit in the drain. Repair the plumbing to code. The chemical sanitizer for the glass wash machine in the bar area was at 200ppm+. The concentration for the chlorine sanitizer for the glass washer is to be 50ppm per the data plate on machine. Adjust the concentration to the proper level. There was no sanitize bucket set up on main cookline for sanitizing surfaces. Set up and maintain a sanitizer bucket during food prep times of operation. Keep wiping cloths in the bucket in between uses for sanitizing surfaces. There is only one hand sink currently set up in the kitchen with soap and towels. Provide a soap and single service towel dispenser wither at the dish machine pre-wash sink or the 1st compartment of the 4 compartment sink to be used for the dish wahser. There is a bare hand contact policy at this establishment, however it is not being properly followed. Sushi chef was not wahsing hands at necessary times of food prep. Re-establish the proper and safe hand washing proecdures with all employees. If procedure for bare hand contact allowance can not be followed, it may be revised or revoked. Sushi chef was storing a wiping cloth in the cooked rice container. The chef was using the cloth to wipe his hands off and then replacing it in the rice. Discontinue to store wiping cloth in the rice maker.
Post the State certificate for your certified food manager. At time of inspection a certification card could not be found. The add on faucet and overhead spray arm at the four compartment sink are not functioning properly. This sink is a hand wash sink and the add on faucet is to be used for hand washing. Repair the Faucet to function properly. The hot water at the hand wahs sink near the prep sink was not working. All sinks must have working hot and cold water faucets. Repair the hot water at this sink to function properly. Provide effective pest control methods to eliminate pests. There are many fruit flies noted behind the bar area. See hand out for information on prevention and control of fruit flies. The walk in cooler had many boxes of food stored on the floor. There were recent deliveries, but it appeared there would not be enough shelf space for all the food. Provide an additional storage rack in the walk in or provide additional refrigeration if the walk in can not hold all the cold product. Discontinue to store food on the floor.
An ice cream machine and smoker are located in the basement in an area not approved for food preparartion. Provide soap and hand towels at the wash tub sinks. A drop cieling and other changes to the room and/or removal of the equipment may be ordered after consultation with the Equipment/Construction supervisor. Little or no sanitizer found in wiping cloth buckets. Use a test kit to ensure chlorine sanitizer is at 100ppm. The doors are broken and insulation is exposed on two of the chest freezers in the basement. Replace the doors or the freezers.
Food smoked/cured without a variance. Discontinue smoking/curing food for preservation. Remove the smoker unit from the premises. Ice cream/gelato is made in the basement as well as smoking/curing. The basement is not approved for any food preparation. Remove the smoker and the ice cream units from the premises.
* Contact the district inspector regarding requirements for building a prep room in the basement.
Restaurants, especially those that garner multiple stars, need to be up to par and then some. Personally……
Some pencil pushing, nitpicky bureaucrat just itching to find fault out of self-preservation is NOT, I repeat, NOT going to stop me from patronizing places like Bacchus, Karl Ratzsch’s, or Sanford.
I would take some of these reports with a grain of salt.
CULINARY NO-NO BONUS
Remember John Pinette's comedy routine, "Chinese Buffet?"
Weird stuff just doesn't happen at all-you-can-eat buffets, right?
Words of advice: next time you're in the buffet line, for your own good, pretend you're going through security at the airport. No jokes. No smiles. No smart aleck remarks.
Just keep your mouth shut.
YET ANOTHER CULINARY NO-NO BONUS
Those Girl Scout cookies…..
The Thin Mints….