Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: Northern Ireland Michelin star bistro gets rock bottom score for hygiene

Noble in Holywood is hoping for a better grade after applying to be rescored

 By Christopher Woodhouse 

One of Northern Ireland’s top new restaurants has been awarded just ONE out of five points in the Scores on the Doors hygiene rating.

The Michelin Bib Gourmand-winning and critically-acclaimed Noble in Holywood was given the shock low mark by council environmental health inspectors and warned “major improvement” was necessary.

The inspection was carried out on June 9 and the result features on the famous Scores on the Doors online site.

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Noble Holywood scores on the doors of 1 out of 5 is displayed online

A breakdown of the score declared food hygiene and safety to be “bad” and confidence in management “little” while structural compliance was ranked “good”.

The restaurant applied for a second inspection and a spokesperson for Noble said the problems had been resolved and improvements made to ensure a “five star rating imminently.”

It is understood the new inspection has been carried out but the result has not yet been published.

Hailed by world renowned food critic Jay Rayner, the posh Co Down eatery found itself ranked alongside dodgy kebab shops and snooker halls in the Food Standards Agency hygiene ratings.

Sunday Life understands the cause of the poor rating was due to a risk of cross-contamination of raw and cooked food in a vacuum packing machine.

There were also minor breaches of food hygiene record-keeping found by inspectors from Ards and North Down Council.

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Noble food hygiene rating

A spokesperson for Noble said: “The FSA hygiene ratings are an important part of our business which we take very seriously.

“Unfortunately the first inspection resulted in a low initial score due to the inspector’s dissatisfaction in the use of some equipment and incorrect paperwork.

“The clerical error has now been resolved, and we have taken additional measures in the kitchen to ensure a five star rating imminently.

“It important to stress that the level of hygiene in Noble’s kitchen is taken very seriously by our experienced chefs and management. Our diners have never been compromised in any way.”

Noble is owned and run by ex-Michael Deane employees Saul McConnell and chef Pearson Morris. Its menu is a modern interpretation of traditional dishes using local ingredients with starters priced between £6 and £8 and mains between £14 and £18.

Awarding Noble the coveted Bib Gourmand last month, the Michelin Guide said: “Easy decision awarding a Bib Gourmand for the small but perfectly formed Noble in Northern Ireland.”

The Bib Gourmand is second only to a Michelin star and is given to restaurants that serve “exceptionally good food at moderate prices”.

In Mr Rayner’s review of Noble for The Observer newspaper, he heaped praise on the cosy spot, describing the cooking as “stupendous”.

“Everything they’re doing here really is noble,” he wrote.

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