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James Marriott has published 19 articles

Council rat Jamal's out

Student favourite forced to close for 24 hours due to complaint from neighbours about rodents
James Marriott on Friday 23rd March 2012
Photograph: Oliver Ford

Jamal’s, the popular Indian restaurant and crew-dating venue, was closed by environmental health officers from Oxford City Council last Tuesday lunchtime.

The officers were called to inspect the establishment after a complaint from a neighbouring property about mice. The standards of sanitation the team found led them to order the restaurant to close its doors to customers at 6.40 pm under regulation eight of the food hygiene regulations 2006.

Jamal’s then reopened at 6pm the following day after being issued with a certificate confirming that the problem no longer existed.

Richard Kuziara, Environmental Health Officer at Oxford City Council, told Cherwell, “We closed the premises because we found conditions that presented a serious risk to customers.”

“The owner was cooperative and carried out the necessary improvements and it has now been allowed to reopen.”

He added that the council will be keeping an eye on Jamal’s and will visit the restaurant regularly “to ensure that the owners can demonstrate that food safety risks are adequately controlled.”

Following the inspection, Jamal’s Food Hygiene Rating is now 0 which means it is classed as needing “Urgent Improvement”.

On its website, the restaurant describes its Indian cuisine as “an adventure”, claiming that it offers “the most fascinating and superbly flavoured dishes of the east”.

However, some students were less forthcoming in their praise for Jamal’s. Exeter student Christopher Pyrah said he wasn’t shocked by the news, adding, “I don’t think I’ll go there again if I’m honest.”

Samuel Diana, a first year Chemist, reacted similarly. He commented, “I guess I'm not particularly surprised as it was quite a dingy place from what I remember, though I was quite drunk at the time.”

Others had a different take on the closure, with one second year Philosophy and Theology student explaining, “I'm not surprised Jamal's had rodents, in fact they're probably an improvement on the place's usual clientèle. Now they're gone I really hope the atmosphere and tone of the place doesn't suffer.”

When contacted by Cherwell, Jamal’s maintained that, despite the incident, it remained “the best restaurant in Oxford” and insisted that “students love Jamal’s”.

The restaurant also claimed that complaints were rare, stating that students “never complain about food or cleanliness”, arguing that it provides “good food” that is “good quality”.

Many students said that the restaurant was an integral part of the life of the University. Organ scholar James D’Costa, though noting that he was unlikely to return soon, described Jamal’s as “an Oxford institution”.

A first year English student agreed, and said that he believed that the incident would do little harm to the restaurant in the long run. He added, “It will take a bit more than a few dead rats to dent its immortal reputation.”

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