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Too many unopened mussels in restaurants...

I've had a few unsatisfactory experiences lately ordering mussels in restaurants, and am wondering if I'm just being too picky -- what is an "acceptable" percentage, in your opinion, of unopened mussels to have in a serving?

The other night, for example, I went to a nice restaurant where I had a "small plate" of mussels, and out of about 12, 4 were unopened (and another 1 was questionable)... I thought this wasn't quite right, and pointed it out to the waitress, who seemed to think I was being a pain, although she did bring me out some more. Was I out of line?

I guess I don't understand why this often happens, because when I make mussels at home, I rarely ever get one that doesn't open -- maybe I overcook them? I mean, do the restaurants need to give them another minute or two so more open? Or are 1/4 of this restaurant's mussels already dead?

I'm just really confused. Please enlighten me!

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  1. 4 out of 12 unopened is unacceptable. I rarely even get 2 unopened out of a pound when I order them in restaurants.

    1. Impossible to know whether they were dead, undercooked or a mixture of both.

      Certainly seems a high ratio of closed to open. I buy them in 1 kilo bags ( enough to feed the two of us for dinner). I'd expect to find a couple already open and obviously dead and a couple or so more that don't open when cooked.

      Knowing it's something that a kitchen needs to take particular care over, I rarely order mussels at a restaurant and only ever do so when it's soemwhere that 's likely to turn over the stock quickly.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Harters

        Here I find it is usually because they cook too many together in the same wok at the same time.

      2. I agree. 4 out of 12 (which is 1/3 of the Mussels you paid your good money for) is definitely unacceptable. The cook/chef should be checking them when he is plating and replace any that do not open. Period! I would have brought it up to the manager just so he knows and can retrain the kitchen help.

        3 Replies
        1. re: PotatoHouse

          Agreed. 1/3 of the order? Should never have made it onto the plate. 1 of 12 - maybe it could slip by but 4 of 12? No way.

          1. re: bobbert

            + 1!

            They should never have been plated.

            1. re: DoobieWah

              + 100 Should never be plated. I used to work in a restaurant, and that was the standard practice. If it didn't open, it went in the trash and was replaced.

        2. 4 out of 12? That's completely unacceptable. I wonder if the waitress didn't understand that you can't eat those, that it's not a matter of being picky?

          I guess I'm lucky; I often order mussels and have never had more than a couple remain unopened. (Which frankly, shouldn't happen either, the chef should be checking.)

          1. No good! Agree with others that it's way too high a percentage to be acceptable. If you were only served a dozen, the kitchen should have been able to pick this up *if* there's a chef in there to make sure the dishes are going out well prepared.
            You deserved more mussels!
            I recently shared a bowl of my favorite mussel dish in one of my favorite restaurants. A big bowl of over 2 dozen and not one stinker in there!