Restaurant Inspection Report: Epcot

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We’re back with another installment exploring restaurant inspection results at Walt Disney World. You can read our previous article here. Today, we’re off to explore Epcot restaurants — and you may not believe some of these results.

Best Counter Service: Lotus Blossom Café, L’Artisan des Glaces

I know, I know: Lotus Blossom isn’t exactly on anyone’s must-do list. In fact, I’ve heard it described as a Panda Express without the ambiance. (Ouch.) But at least you know that the food is safe to eat with a perfect score from the health inspectors.

I scream, you scream, but not because of any health code problems! (Photo by Julia Mascardo)
I scream, you scream, but not because of any health code problems! (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Also netting a perfect score is a crowd favorite: L’Artisan Des Glaces. And lest you think “Well, it’s ice cream. It’s hard to mess that up.”, during my research for this article I had the “pleasure” of reading about the emergency closure of the Ben & Jerry’s location at the Vineland outlets. Trust me, it is possible to mess up on a health inspection even if all you serve is ice cream. Thankfully, that’s not the case at L’Artisan des Glaces, which does well in health inspection and overall yumminess.

Runner Up for Best Counter Service: Fife & Drum

With its limited menu for prepared foods, Fife & Drum was able to earn a near-perfect inspection score. Its single violation was some food debris on the inside of a bag and box storage cabinet.

If popcorn and turkey legs aren’t your thing, there are many other options. Yorkshire County Fish Shop scored almost as well, with two violations (dust on some equipment and dirt on the wall near the ice bin); Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie had two basic violations (unwashed fruits stored with ready-to-eat foods and an in-use utensil stored in water less than 135 degrees); Tangierine Café had two basic violations (ice buildup in the freezer and a wall that is not smooth); and in Future World, Electric Umbrella had three basic violations (mostly ice buildup in the freezers).

Worst Counter Service: Sunshine Seasons*

Sunshine Seasons is a perennial favorite, and a place I eat often with my family. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)
Sunshine Seasons is a perennial favorite, and a place I eat often with my family. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

Say it ain’t so! The perennial favorite for best counter service in Epcot (and possibly in all of Walt Disney World) also has this dubious distinction from its most recent health inspection, with seven health violations. Among these were standing water at the dish machine (apparently caused by a leaking pipe that was also cited), ice buildup in the reach-in freezer, a utensil standing in water less than 135F, old labels stuck on food containers after cleaning, a wiping cloth in the grill area that could result in cross contamination, and no time mark on cheesecake and crème brulee in the bakery cooler.

*Before re-inspection worst counter service: La Cantina de San Angel

On its most recent inspection, La Cantina de San Angel had only one violation (rust on a reach-in cooler), however this re-inspection was necessary because of a very poor inspection the day prior, with violations that far exceed what was found at Sunshine Seasons. In that first inspection, a whopping seventeen violations were found. Among the worst: beef and bean chili was not cooled within two hours and had to be discarded, cut tomatoes and cabbage slaw were out of temperature, the cooked chicken was held at less than 135 degrees, and raw ground sausage was stored above raw beef in the cooler. When it was re-inspected the next day, most of the inspection issues (including all of the major issues) had been corrected.

Runner Up for Worst Counter Service: Liberty Inn

At only four violations, Liberty Inn has fewer violations than Sunshine Seasons, but the nature of these violations would actually put it higher on my list of concerns. The minor issues of ice build-up in a freezer and a wall with “black debris” in the dishwashing area don’t worry me much, but the broccoli that had to be discarded for being out of temperature (held at less than 135F or above—“broccoli at 108 F – hot holding 15 minutes”) and the raw beef steaks stored over the ready to eat chicken broth in the walk in cooler are more significant issues in my view. Not as significant as Cantina de San Angel, but still disappointing.

Best Table Service: Spice Road Table, Rose & Crown

One restaurant I haven’t tried, Spice Road Table comes in with two minor violations: water draining onto a pan inside the produce reach-in cooler and a handwash sink not accessible at the dish machine area because it was blocked by a table. Likewise, Rose and Crown came in with two violations each (a cutting board with knife marks and a leaking pipe in the walk-in cooler).

Runner Up for Best Table Service: Monsieur Paul, Garden Grill, Akershus Royal Banquet Hall

Monsieur Paul is a hidden gem in World Showcase. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)

With three violations each, these restaurants had fairly good inspections. Monsieur Paul’s violations include equipment not properly air-dried, a reach-in cooler with rust, and unwashed mushrooms not being washed prior to preparation. For Garden Grill, the issues were a wet mop not allowed to dry, an employee who failed to wash hands before putting on gloves to work with food, and a water filter that was not changed. At Akershus, there was a leaky faucet, a utensil stored in water less than 135F, and raw chicken stored over raw sausage in a cooler.

Worst Table Service: San Angel Inn*

With ten violations, this is a disappointing inspection. Many of the notes included dust, ice buildup in the freezer, lime scale buildup in the dish machine, and basic cleaning issues, but there were a few more significant issues. An employee “failed to wash hands before changing gloves and/or putting on gloves to work with food at prep area”, there was a food out of temperature issue that resulted in the chicken and chocolate mousse being discarded (cooked chicken and chocolate mousse at 47-50 degrees F, out of temperature for less than four hours). There was also storage issues in the walk in cooler, with raw ground beef stored over raw pork and raw seafood. All of these major issues were corrected on-site, however.

Runner Up for Worst Table Service: Biergarten

Biergarten had eight violations, and most were relatively minor (dust, an employee with a soiled apron, rust in reach-in cooler shelves), but there was one that hit my squick factor: “Small flying insects in server’s side station area.” I have no doubt that this has been corrected by this point, however references to insects do make me squeamish when I see them on inspection reports. And that brings us to…

*Complaint Inspections

It’s a free world, and people are certainly able to file a complaint with the board of health if they feel a restaurant needs an inspection. Sometimes a person gets sick after eating at a restaurant and feel that it must be the food that made them sick, prompting them to file a complaint. (In some cases it is the restaurant they complain about, but in other cases it could be a case of the flu, food poisoning picked up from a meal earlier in the day, or even becoming sick from the Florida heat.)

Coral Reef and Restaurant Marrakesh have had an inspection based on a complaint (and had a few minor issues noted as a result of that complaint inspection, but nothing out of the ordinary).

And that brings us to Via Napoli. Via Napoli has had two complaints requiring a health inspection since its opening. On the first one, it met inspection standards, but the most recent one had ten violations and required a follow-up inspection for the next day. The most significant in my view were grease on the ground, food held at greater than 41F (butter, cooked pasta, cooked mussels, cooked shrimp, all of which had to be discarded), raw ground sausage stored over cooked chicken, and small insects in the bar area. The next day, a follow-up inspection showed that these issues had been resolved and the restaurant was given a clean inspection.

That’s it for this edition of the restaurant inspection report. Next stop, Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

 

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Julia Mascardo

Freelance writer and editor, living the dream in Central Florida with my husband, cats, and totally awesome homeschooled eleven-year-old daughter.

9 thoughts on “Restaurant Inspection Report: Epcot

  • August 17, 2015 at 11:11 am
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    Do the countries have an overall GM,someone who oversees all the restaurants for that country pavilion? If so, seems like Mexico needs a new one.

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  • August 17, 2015 at 12:46 pm
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    That’s a shame about La Cantina de San Angel. It has been our walking out the park snack/dinner.

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    • August 17, 2015 at 1:18 pm
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      It is a shame, yes. It won’t stop me from eating there, as I’ve got a fairly Teflon stomach, but I do hope that this was just a momentary training lapse. Let’s face it…restaurant inspections are a slice of life on a particular day, and some days are better or worse than others. (And compared with some restaurants outside of Disney, even these aren’t as bad as it could be!)

      Reply
  • August 17, 2015 at 4:38 pm
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    Heading to WDW in a few weeks. Figure by then the ones listed as ‘Worst’ will probably be the best to eat in as they’ll be overly zealous not to get a bad repeat review!

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    • August 18, 2015 at 9:52 am
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      The old saying often holds true that sunlight is the best disinfectant! I love that this information is available to the general public so that we can know what we’re dealing with when it comes to restaurant safety.

      Reply
  • August 18, 2015 at 9:10 am
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    I see a common violation across a number of the restaurants was ice buildup in the freezers. Not knowing anything about restaurant guidelines is this a common finding in general? And why would this be a finding anyway? Its a freezer, it freezes stuff. Isn’t that its whole reason for being?

    Reply
    • August 18, 2015 at 9:52 am
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      I’m not a restaurant inspector, so I’m not exactly sure of the ins and outs of why it is such a big deal, but here’s some possibilities from my college experiences with a minifridge that had ice buildup problems:

      1. If too much ice built up on the coils, the freezer thermostat didn’t do a great job of keeping the temperature consistent. For the little fridge, no problem–the ice kept things cold. For a larger freezer, it might mean you have warm spots in the freezer, which isn’t a good thing.

      2. Whenever my roommate would spill things on the ice in there, it would create this incredibly nasty slimy muck on it. If we didn’t get it cleaned up, a new layer of ice would freeze on it, but the smell wouldn’t go away. My guess is that it became a breeding ground for all sorts of disgusting germs and such.

      3. If too much ice built up on the coils, it can burn out the unit itself — so that might be a reason for ice buildup being cited as a minor violation, because if you don’t get it fixed, the whole freezer unit might stop working, which would cause big-time problems for keeping food at proper temperatures.

      If there’s any restaurant inspectors/freezer mechanics/food safety people who know the real reason behind it all, I’d love to hear!

      Reply
  • August 18, 2015 at 3:31 pm
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    It’s easy for Lotus Blossom to stay clean, since no one eats there.

    Reply

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