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Why let a roach spoil a perfectly good meal?

Tonight, I didn't have the heart to tell my wife about the small roach that was crawling on the wall several inches away from her jacket-covered shoulder.

We were at an excellent Thai restaurant for the second time (which shall remain unnamed), really enjoying the food. About 3/4 through the meal, I noticed the little bugger on the wall paneling.

We kept talking, I kept noticing it moving around, wondering if my wife was going to catch on... but she didn't.

Do I tell her about it and freak her out, knowing that she'd never want to return? The last time we saw a roach in a Westchester restaurant -- and it was definitely much bigger than this one -- my wife refused to go back for years.

Or do I say nothing to her and enjoy the final 10 minutes of the meal, knowing that we could return sometime in the near future and enjoy another great meal there.

The waitress came by a couple of times and there' was no way she missed our crawling friend, but she said nothing. She was probably hoping we wouldn't notice too.

I decided I liked this restaurant too much to say anything, so with great willpower, we left without a ripple.

What would you have done in my shoes?

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  1. I would have told her because if there are roaches I assume that the restaurant has some serious problems with cleanliness and I am not sure if I wanted to return to such a restaurant. I would always wondering how dirty their kitchen might be.

    1. Well, I occasionally see a roach in my house. I bet many of you do, too.

      They are emphatically NOT always a sign of problems with cleanliness. If your town has a competent restaurant inspection program, you likely have nothing to worry about.

      Your reaction was correct. A million things could have driven an errant roach into that dining room. And every one of us has actually **eaten** bug parts in grain, legume and nut products within the past week.

      in "How to Play With Your Food," Penn and Teller recount eating in the Japanese restaurant in their NYC office building. I believe it was Teller who bit into a tempura-something, only to find a STILL-LIVING roach struggling out of the batter.

      "We still eat there," the anecdote ends.

      2 Replies
      1. re: dmd_kc

        I found it excerpted!


        It was Penn, and I got the ending a little wrong. Still. Heh.

        1. re: dmd_kc

          eww...that made me gag!

          I saw a roach recently in a great Mexican place and i too kept my mouth shut!
          My companions would have freaked!

      2. I actually told my husband not to tell me if he sees a bug. I don't want to know. Then again, roaches in Phoenix sort of seem to come with the territory. It's a hot desert - they love it here. The only exception for me would be an upscale restaurant. For some reason, I would not be as forgiving as I am with the Chinese dive down the street from us (where I have seen a roach and have since returned many times!).

        1. I've seen half bitten worms after I took bites of my guava or apples. They're pretty harmless.
          The thing is with roaches, they walk around and collect bits of what ever they walk in on their legs which can be then transferred to food. Its different from having roaches in your own house, as you would obviously zap the lil bugger!
          But to say that the waitress noticed, wonder if the chef noticed it walking on a filet steak, are they going to throw the steak out or just shoo it off and cook the steak after?
          In the end, I would not go back to the restaurant, and I would complain!

          1 Reply
          1. re: Soyabean

            You do realize that for every roach you actually see in your house, there are probably tens more in the walls you can't see. Zapping the one isn't going to do anything to get rid of the others. I do agree that I would mention to the restaurant that I saw a roach, but that doesn't necessarily mean I would not return. As many have already mentioned, roaches are not necessarily a sign that a place is dirty. I'm in Florida where roaches are just a given. Many homeowners have regular pest control service that comes around, but roaches and other critters still remain a problem. If a restaurant is in a multi-unit dwelling, it's a bit harder to avoid roaches if you're next to a business that doesn't care to do regular pest control. As vigilant as the restaurant is, the roaches are just going to go into a different part of the building that isn't treated.

          2. A few years ago I was in the same situation dining with a co-worker while traveling for work. We were in a well-known seafood restaurant near the beach, it was a hot day, and roaches just come with the territory. The roach was crawling along the wall behind my co-worker, several feet away. I didn't say anything during the meal b/c I didn't want to cause a disruption for our table or anyone else, but I did tell her when we got to the car. She said it wouldn't keep her from going back, but she was glad I hadn't mentioned it during the meal.

            1. What size shoes do you wear?

              1. I'd have done exactly the same as you. As you say, you like the restaurant that much, why ruin it?

                1. Living where we do, bugs are part of life... palmetto bugs are a form of roach (HUGE) and they are everywhere, though they prefer to live outdoors. So, I don't get too freaked out if I spy one bug in a restaurant.

                  However, our group at work used to frequent a carry-out place that had GREAT salads. We'd go there at least once a week. Then my friend found a roach (maybe more than one?) in his salad. It literally made us both ill. I've never been able to go back to that place, though it's still in business many years later.

                  I know it was probably a freak thing... the roach probably came in the carton with the lettuce! But, still, I can never get that picture out of my mind. And, I'd really like to have their salads again! :-(

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: onrushpam

                    Have to assume you are in Florida with the mention of palmetto bugs. Big suckers aren't they. I remember my wife seeing a big palmetto at a well known pizza joint. Last time she would walk in there. As long as the food was good and the place looks reasonably clean I have no problem.

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      OMG. Palmettos are like roaches on steroids. Unlike common roaches those suckers can FLY! I've never killed one, but one of my dad's cats used to kill them and then bat them around for fun. I'm not saying that there were a lot of palmettos in my dad's house, but it is true that in a tropical climate, some things are going to come into the house (the geckos are another favorite live plaything for the cat to torture).

                      I don't care for roaches, but I have to say, unless you're talking about seeing swarms of roaches in a restaurant, the appearance of a mouse or god forbid, a rat, in a restaurant would bother me a hell of a lot more than a roach crawling up the wall.

                  2. I went to lunch with some coworker friends, and saw a dead roach in one of the buffet trays (the buffet wasn't in use and was clean and shiny otherwise). I didn't tell my coworkers, but since I knew the owner I told her about it in private.
                    Roaches are everywhere, and if you don't think there are insects in every single restaurant in the world, you're fooling yourself. There's food there. That's where they go, it's survival..

                    1. They're there you'll never get rid of them all. As long as you dont have 100's of them crawling all over food prep areas and dining room tables etc. your ok. Last place I worked we had a problem with field mice getting into dry storage in the fall when the weather turned cold. You can't beleive how fast those little buggers could chew through the corner of a sugar packet case. Got a barn cat from a local farmer, case closed on the mice. I think that cat took out alot of the roaches too! We called him "exterminator".

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mrbigshotno.1

                        I had mice in my office once that were chewing open foil packets of mayonnaise and licking the insides clean. Yeah, I believe you about the sugar packet case.

                      2. My cousin and I were eating at an Indian restaurant when all of a sudden we beheld a roach walking along the wall next to our table. We were joking about it ("He wants your tandoori!") when the waiter came by, and we pointed out our visitor ("Look who came to dinner!") The waiter explained that the restaurant had recently done an extermination in the kitchen, and guessed that this was an escapee, flushed out from his comfort zone into the dining room. When we finished our dinner, a free dessert was brought out to us. I don't remember what happened to the roach-- maybe he got away! I'll still eat there; the price is right and the people are nice. If I had found the roach IN my food that would have been a different story!

                        1. Roaches can survive a nuclear bomb, correct?! So being that resilient I'm sure they are a lot more prevalent and we just don't know. Animals are not allowed in restaurants (other than seeing eye dogs) for sanitary reasons yet I cook in a home with pets with the pets constantly in and out of the kitchen. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger and I'm sure I've eaten worse than food from a place with roaches!

                          But for the record, I wouldn't have wanted to know... there still is an "ick" factor.

                          5 Replies
                          1. re: Yes Please

                            My former employer had a home in Mexico with an institutional sized kitchen (nice house) and I would go for a midnight snack of flan or ceviche from a fridge, and when I hit the light switch it sometimes looked like the roaches were having a square dance. So the sight of one or two roaches stateside doesn't rattle me. And it not a refection of a lack of cleanliness, they eat non-refrigerated fruit, and can find their way anywhere, with one exception. I have never seen one in a spice cabinet.

                            1. re: Veggo

                              Yummm.... midnight flan.
                              Agreed its not a reflection of a lack of cleanliness.

                              1. re: Yes Please

                                Not ALWAYS a lack of cleanliness, I'd say. Sometimes it is.

                                1. re: EWSflash

                                  Thanks! Totally what I meant to say!

                              2. re: Veggo

                                I once had to inspect a subsidized apt. program and the spice containers, those little boxes like Bell's seasoning were loaded with roaches. Jars mo' bettah.

                            2. If my dining companion would have reacted as your wife would have reacted, I would have done the same thing.

                              1. I guess it would depend on where I was, but on the whole, bugs gross me out. Up here in the colder climes a roach seen in my house would definitely be a cause for concern. Likewise, seeing one in a resto would mean bigger problems, and I would most likely go somewhere else in the future...no matter how good the food was.

                                A few years back a local Mex joint was shut down by the Health Dept. for unsanitary conditions (after several warnings). Bugs, rodents, etc. The owner took down the signs and opened up that night anyway. After it was closed, the new owner of the building discovered how bad the problem was and ended up razing the building.

                                DW and I had eaten there previously, not knowing of the problems, and survived, but had we known...

                                1. You could have nabbed it with your napkin and told her (if she must know) that it was a moth. Yes. A lie. But a roach on your person - no matter how much you adore a restaurant MUST GO. So I call this a best of both worlds lie. Loved one saved from roach, you saved from not getting to go back to roach restaurant.