Old-school Theater District haunt Sardi's got slapped by the cold hand of the law last night, when the bar-snack hating Health Department visited and ordered the bar to stop offering their signature free communal cheese pots and bowls of pretzels and peanuts to guests.

“It’s gotten to the point that the way they’re applying the health code is so rigid, we can no longer have what we always had. The way it is now with the health department, as they say, a good inspector has to find violations," said V. Max Klimavicius, the president of Sardi’s, which has long been a favorite of the Broadway set. The DOH is requiring that anyone who wants cheese and crackers now must order their own individual pot, with plastic-wrapped crackers, for $3-5. And the cheese now comes "straight out of the refrigerator," totally ruining its spreadability.

"It’s just mind-boggling. Nobody’s happy," said Klimavicius, and customers agreed: “How long has it been going on, serving cheese, and nobody got sick?” asked one customer. Even newly-anointed Times critic Pete Wells chimed in on Twitter, writing "Always knew if I ate nuts from a bowl on the bar, there was some sanitary risk. Was OK w/ that. #sardis." Quick—get to these remaining bars with free snacks now, before the DOH does.

UPDATE 11/21/11: The DOH has been in touch with us to report that they did NOT, in fact, cite Sardi's for their cheese pots. "The 'food not protected from potential source of contamination' did not refer to the communal cheese pots, but to improperly stored pasta," said representative Susan Craig. "Cheese, including communal servings, is allowed to be served at room temperature as long as it is not kept out beyond four hours, per the Health Code." As for the pretzels and peanuts, "The Health Department does not typically issue violations for peanuts or other bar snacks, unless they observe a bartender during an inspection who does not change one patron’s bar snacks when another patron arrives," she added.