Our Mayor loves to tell us what we shouldn't do, from bronzing our bodies to relieving ourselves on the job. Now Nanny Bloomberg has more advice when navigating our rich culinary scene: only eat at restaurants that boast an A grade.

Speaking at an awards gala honoring innovation in the biopharmaceutical industry, Bloomberg took a moment to address backlash to the city's restaurant letter grading system. The program has drawn ire from restaurant owners who claim the system unfairly fines restaurants for issues unrelated to cleanliness. "Those that don't want to clean up their kitchen, I know why they're bitching," Hizzoner opined. "But I would suggest don't eat in a restaurant unless they have an A." Don't look now, Bloomie, but your precious Viand Cafe is having some issues—AGAIN!

Hear Hizzoner's remarks around 2:45:

But does the Mayor's snooty declaration hold water with the reality of the restaurant grading system? We spoke to several restaurant owners, all of whom felt the Mayor's statement was both ludicrous and, in some cases, irresponsible.

Ben Van Leeuwen, whose eponymous ice cream stores have all received A-gradings, points out that bad grades do not necessarily indicate a dirty restaurant. "The difference between an A and a B can arise from minor infractions, such as holes in the ceiling in a basement that houses a boiler and hot water heater." Van Leeuwen disagrees that diners should shun B-graded establishments, pointing out that "Per Se had a B grade at one point." In that case, the iconic restaurant managed to avoid the grade by reportedly exploiting a connection with a higher up at the Bureau of Food Safety. So either "be clean" or...call your rich friends!

Other restaurateurs point out inconsistencies with inspectors, like Blair Papagni, who owns Jimmy's Diner and Anella. She finds the whole process "dishonest and anti-small business."

They come and inspect, often pick extremely random non-food related things to focus on, like having the appropriate self-closing device on a bathroom door. They give you points for it, then another inspector comes back weeks later and violates you for things that the first inspector said were fine, like the length of a faucet in a bar sink.

Pagani went on to say that she found the Mayor's comments to be a "slap in the face to an industry that employs so many people in this city" and that she found his comments "irresponsible."

Even more disturbing, the co-owner of an extremely popular eatery, who asked to remain anonymous, said he has personally witnessed inspectors fabricating violations to rack up fines. "Because A restaurants don't have to pay fines, inspectors are instructed to trump up extra violations to get to B range, because that's how the department makes money," he theorized. "So more often than not a restaurant with a B is just the victim of the DOH's money-making system."

While the grading system might be enough to steer paranoid diners away from a B- or C-graded establishment, most New Yorkers don't like to be told what to do when it comes to chowing down.

[via Politicker]