More than half of the 15,000 restaurants inspected by the Health Department have received an "A" letter grade and proudly display it where it's required by law to be: at eye level within 5 feet of the entrance. But as you travel down the alphabet, the letters get harder to C. According to the Post, many C-grade restaurants are flouting a $1,000 fine by either obscuring their grades or simply not posting them at all. It's that denial-rific "out of sight, out of mind" ethos that gets us through life anyway.
The Plaza's Oak Room, F. Scott Fitzgerald's old haunt, received a "C" for not having enough hand washing stations and for presumably mixing their West and East Eggs. It's lacking a grade altogether, with a manager telling the paper, "I do have it, but I can't let you see it." And if you have to ask, you can't afford it. SPQR in Little Italy has a particularly novel approach to conceal their C: put it in a corner below all obnoxiously huge signs for specials. Their manager claims "my windows are taken up with more important signs. People know it's good here." C's were good enough for President Bush, why not tortellini?
A Health Department spokesman states that "the majority of restaurants are complying" with the grading system, including ones that post a "Grade Pending" sign if they care to appeal the initial assessment. The manager of one such restaurant, the Michelin-rated Rouge Tomate (that's "red tomato covered in 'filth flies and contaminated raw food'" in French) says "I want to put the grade I deserve up in my window." Maybe a "D" for "Denial?"