01/19/2011 09:13 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

City Inspections Give Le Cirque And Gramercy Tavern 'C' Grades

The next time you read a restaurant review or are contemplating take-out from your local Chinese place, it might be worth finding out the restaurant's letter grade. 

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene's restaurant rating system has been in place for six months and the New York Times reports that "nearly 60 percent of some 24,000 restaurants in the city have inspection scores that rate an A."

Most surprising are the 'A-List' restaurants that haven't made the grade.  Particularly shocking was the awarding of a C rating to critically-acclaimed Le Cirque and Gramercy Tavern, indicating that they had over 28 health code violations.  In order to receive an A, a restaurant must have received 14 or less violations and a B rating is given to restaurants that receive 14 to 27 violations.

Violations can be as seemingly harmless as one employee who forgoes wearing a hairnet to far more serious issues.  The Times reports that "both Le Cirque and Gramercy Tavern were found to have flies and 'conditions conducive to attracting vermin,' and inspectors also found roaches at Gramercy Tavern."  Any restaurant that receives less than an A can ask for a reinspection and further appeal an unsatisfactory ruling after reinspection.

The rating system has given a boost to smaller mom and pop places who can proudly prove their cleanliness with a simple letter in their window.  Some dedicated diners are ambivalent about the grades and continue to patronize 'B' and 'C' rated establishments.  Want to find out which of your favorite restaurants didn't make the grade? Click here.