Philly.com's restaurant critic Craig LaBan takes a chance and reviews the Capitol's cafeteria.
Certainly, there would be no "mice-and-beans" or "rat-atouille" lunch specials on the menu.
But with a track record of dismal health inspections like the one that Philadelphia-based Aramark Corp. has racked up lately at the Capitol Cafe in the state capital, the punch lines were bound to come.
"So, we going to the poop-ateria?" said James Roxbury, a cafeteria regular who runs an online news service, as he welcomed me to lunch yesterday. With a buildup like that, how could I say no?
Aramark's shockingly persistent failure to pass basic health inspections in the airy atrium dining facility, where 1,500 politicos, state employees, and tourists eat each day, has been a magnet for all the wrong kinds of headlines.
The cafeteria was closed for two weeks in December after 54 health-code violations, including a droppings-laden rodent infestation. Then it failed a surprise inspection Monday at the very moment Aramark executives were testifying before the joint House State Government and Agriculture Committee with apologies and vows of corrective action.
The events have consumed cafeteria cognoscenti like Roxbury, who frequents the cafe daily to eat and upload video to his Roxbury News Service.
"Of course, there were at least 70 subpoenas being served around the Capitol yesterday for Bonusgate. But this is all anyone wants to talk about – Rodentgate."
Among the most unsavory details of Monday's health inspection by the state Department of Agriculture were a hairnet in the sink, hot dogs that weren't hot enough, and numerous mouse droppings, including one inside a large bowl at the kitchen mixer.
Note to self: Avoid the chocolate-chip muffins.
Does anything go right in the Capitol any more?
Certainly doesn't look like it.