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Maggots in salad at restaurant. What would you have done?

I was on a first date at a restaurant in Tiburon, CA. It was a great-looking place on the warf and it was filled with people at peak hour. We took the ferry from SF to Tiburon. All was very romantic. We had reservations and were seated. Both of us placed our orders and when the salads came, mine had several maggots squirming and bopping up and down in the greens.

I waved the waiter over, and without a word or any drama nor creating a scene, I pointed to the maggots. The waiter smiled and said unapologeticaly : "It happens." My date looked at his salad, smiled at me and started to eat his salad.

What would you have said, expected or done?
What if you had friends over for dinner and this happened in your home...
would you have nonchalantly said: "It happens"?

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  1. We had a similar experience with a super skinny, deceased "daddy long legs" spider in my DH's salad many moons ago in Canada.

    That was not "several maggots"...

    I would have expected to be comped for my meal, as my DH and I were...and we received a very nice (and unnecessary) bottle of excellent wine on the house.

    It wouldn't have happened in my home, because I wash and inspect my salad. (not to sound snarky...I just do).

    1. I know what I would have done if I were the owner of the restaurant..I would have quietly apologized and comped the meal...neither of us drink alcohol so it wouldn't have been very expensive...I'm very easy going and didn't make a scene...I even left a tip...but thinking back I would have expected at the very least the common curtesy of an apology...it's never happened in my home since I naturally clean everything like everyone else does...and I have found little critters when cleaning them so I know how important it is to clean...once I found a VERY exotic looking praying mantis which I released outside

      2 Replies
      1. re: sylvan

        Oh heck yes....you are being very very classy about it. YOU ABSOLUTELY deserved an apology and then some. And you're right, we all get little spiders, ladybugs, what not getting into the home....but NOT to the tune of "SEVERAL" into our serving bowls of food.

        I am totally freaked out by that. You could've taken a pic of it and caused havoc. "It happens." Yeah, so does you know what, but I don't what THAT in my salad either.

        I'm so sorry that happened to you both.

        1. re: sylvan

          You are as mellow as can be. I would be as mellow,minus the tip. As a former server I must say you deserved a comp at the least, if not a gift certificate to hopefully insure your return. I wouldn't have tipped due to the reaction unless the service was stellar from then on. Still only fifteen at best vs my usual twenty- twenty five

        2. Did your date know and was it the same type salad? That is a brave man if so. He may have not gotten a goodnight kiss though. I think k you were very tactful but the waiter wasn't. He should have fallen all over himself to make it right, that's why we tip them. I have worked the service industry. A GREAT experience is what we look forward to. Not " it happens". I would not be comfortable eating there and commend your tact not losing you cool or your cookies. Two thumbs up.

          4 Replies
          1. re: suzigirl

            I'm with suzigirl & also hope you're not planning date #2 with this guy cause he didn't seem to be too concerned about what happened to you.

            1. re: Jerzeegirl

              ha ha, nope, I lost interest in him...he didn't talk and I felt alone with him
              I like a quiet guy, but also some conversation

            2. re: suzigirl

              thanks, suzigirl....I don't feel like a fool now for not being "assertive"

            3. If this happened in a restaurant during the first salad course I would have brought it to the servers attention and put a $10 bill on the table for him. Not his fault but no way would I stay...

              1 Reply
              1. re: miss_belle

                I agree: not staying, not eating, not the server's fault (for the problem -- his response to the problem sucked, though).

                It would have been nice to have been offered food or wine, but I wouldn't want to eat it!

              2. there are two things happening in this post - the behavior of the waiter and the reaction of your date. given your questions, i guess you already dealt with the behavior of your date.

                this happened to me in the Philippines. just one maggot. they didnt comp us - just gave us free dessert. I wanted a comp, but they wouldnt budge. Although they didnt give a comp, they were still very apologetic. A "it happens" response deserves a talk with the manager.

                not sure what i would do if this happened in my home. Very apologetic, of course. but what recourse to give?

                1. I would have called the waiter over and shown him/her the maggots. I would have asked that the waiter take the salad back to the kitchen and not bring any other food out of that kitchen. I would have told the waiter to then ask the manager to please come over to my table.
                  I would have told the manager that maggots in the food indicates that the food they are serving to their customers is spoiling, deteriorating....it is not fresh. I would be calling the health department once I leave.
                  No tip for anyone and I'd leave the restaurant in disgust.
                  Shame on that waiter.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: latindancer

                    Exactly. Live maggots in food are a sign of bigger problems in the kitchen. I'm willing to forgive a lot of "icky" things that don't actually reflect on safe food handling,maggots in food aren't on that list.

                    1. Unlike the nicer Hounds that have responded, I would have made a VERY big scene and made sure EVERYBODY in the restaurant knew why. It may have at least saved someone a trip to the hospital and at most a trip to the morgue.
                      Then I would have taken video with my phone to share with the Health Department and every internet board I know of.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: PotatoHouse

                        Just to be clear....

                        Maggots are not harmful, if eaten. It's the possible bacteria ridden food they're eating that's the danger.
                        BTW....I'm not a 'nice Hound' in this case.

                        1. re: latindancer

                          yes but who cares if they are edible LOL~! She didnt order them!!

                          1. re: latindancer

                            This just happened to me in Hayes Valley! I am surprised you even stayed.. i was so disgusted i couldn't even sit still at that place. I ran for horror.

                        2. Insect larvae do not necessarily indicate rotting food. Here in the east we had a very mild winter, and this summer we've had an unusually large number of insect predators in our garden, most of whom would not have ordinarily have been able to overwinter in a normal winter here. During their most voracious stage, their larval stage, they often look similar to fly larvae (maggots), though they may be green, or have stripes, spots, etc.. Others, called loopers, move like inchworms, and do bob up and down as they travel. We garden organically at our house, and have had a difficult time keeping up with the critters this year, so double soaking the freshly picked lettuce has become routine (make sure those fellas are nice and clean), but we've about given up on the broccoli except for the flowerettes.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: junescook

                            My hunch is that....
                            Double soaking greens isn't going to solve the problem in this restaurant.

                            1. re: junescook

                              So true, the more organic you go the better chance of some extra protein getting in the mix!

                            2. A long, long, time ago, in a universe far, far, away...
                              There were no attorneys. No Lamborghini.

                              1. Maggots equal flies laying eggs and the eggs hatching. Bad stuff, temps higher or lower
                                than should be, shows long-term nobody noticing maggots in the food. I'm far less germophobic than most people here, but damn, there's a real health problem here. I would have made a low-key hissyfit with the chef.And I wouldn't have eaten it or accepted a comp, which we wouldn't even consider.

                                What would I have done? I have no idea!

                                1. I am seriously freaked out by bugs and other creepy crawlies so I probably would have screamed my head off. Seriously, I would have flipped. And left the restaurant immediately, with or without the date. I don't care that maggots aren't harmful, etc. - I would have run as far away as possible immediately. I'm kind of freaking out just thinking about it!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  1. You would not have the comp the rest of my meal because that will be it for me. Absolutely disgusting!

                                    And as for the guy, dump him!

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. at the very least, the waiter should have removed the salad from the plate - he can't have seriously believed you'd eat it.

                                      Comped for the salad should have been a given.

                                      And the date? Insensitive clod -- between the two of them, I very likely would have just left right there Restaurant doesn't give a damn, and neither does the date - that a sure sign it's time for me to leave.

                                        1. I was eating in a small restaurant with high-backed booths. This was a second visit and I had really liked my first meal here. As I was enjoying my entree, I happened to glance over my left shoulder and saw a roach making its way between the wall and the edge of the booth. There was no staff out front, and I didn't want to create a scene, so I slid all the way over to the edge of the seat to wait for someone to come out. The roach continued to make its way onto the table towards the plate of food. I began knocking on the table and blowing at the roach to scare it away; however, instead of scattering off, it began walking towards me. That was it!. I jumped up from the table and grabbed a bus-boy that had just come out of the kitchen. I told him that I wanted to see the manager because there's a roach on my table. He looked at the table, looked at the roach, took his towel and "cleared" the roach off the table and walked of. The waitress finally came out of the kitchen and asked me why I looked upset. I told her about the roach and she was mortified and said that there would be no charge for the meal and that I could order something else. I told her no that I was just going to leave. She asked me if I wanted to take what was left on my plate with me. Ummm. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                                          I haven't been back.

                                          19 Replies
                                          1. re: Vidute

                                            I had a mouse come over the top of my booth and perch **on my shoulder** in Aruba (a very, very long time ago).

                                            When I jumped up, the waiter came over and literally pushed me back into the seat, telling me to be quiet so I didn't frighten the other customers. I loudly said "IT'S A MOUSE. ON MY SHOULDER." with quite a few glances cast my direction.

                                            My ex reacted much as the OP's date...but somehow I just didn't feel like finishing my meal. (EX being a key word here..)

                                            The only reason I didn't leave was because I would have then been alone in a foreign country, after dark, and traveling alone was not recommended for young women in Oranjestad at that time -- but it probably is a big part of why I have little tolerance for the cavalier attitude from the date..

                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                              I wouldn't have had that big a problem with a little mouse

                                              1. re: EWSflash

                                                I'm a little surprised I really need to explain this -- it wasn't JUST the fact that it was a mouse. I've kept mice as pets on multiple occasions -- and I let *my* mice sit on my shoulder -- but they were pets, taken to a vet to keep them healthy and well, kept in a clean cage with regularly-changed bedding, and fed clean food and water.

                                                A wild mouse eats whatever it can, and sleeps and walks wherever it needs to. Wild mice are known carriers of all kinds of nasty diseases.

                                                A wild mouse has no business being in the dining room of a restaurant (an expensive one, no less) where people are eating -- and a mouse who is that bold is very, very unafraid of any consequences of being discovered.

                                                none of which say good things about the restaurant or their hygiene.

                                                1. re: sunshine842

                                                  Hantavirus comes to mind where wild mice are concerned. It's fairly common in the wild mouse population of New Mexico, and other southwestern US desert regions. Humans often die when they contract it and the accompanying attacks on the lungs NASTY!!!

                                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                                    and they aren't particularly choosy about where they choose to eliminate bodily waste (even when they're pets)

                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                      I lost a relative to a variety of hantavirus. It was a hideous way to go. If a food establishment isn't vigilant rodents can be a difficult problem to solve.

                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                        The virus is going strong in Baltimore and Eastern Montana,20+ years now.It is safe to say it's everywhere mice and rats are.

                                                      2. re: sunshine842

                                                        <I'm a little surprised I really need to explain this>

                                                        I used to be surprised too but I'm no longer. I can be pretty sure there's no need to explain it to the 1000's of visitors, who were sent warnings and explanations after they'd visited Yosemite this summer.
                                                        A few months ago I was at my veterinarian's office for a wellness check for my dog. I was sitting next to a young girl, crying her eyes out, waiting to hear the prognosis of her dog who'd ingested rat poisoning an hour earlier. This was no ordinary story, as she began to tell me, as I was literally holding her up from the grief she was going through.
                                                        She told me she'd left the dog with her friend, who lived with her parents, who leave rat/mouse poisoning (she never knew until now) all over the kitchen to keep the rats/mice off the counters and stove, etc. Her dog, of course, was in the house chewing away on all of it. This neighborhood where these people live isn't exactly impoverished, to say the least. These were educated people who just didn't see the need to eradicate the problem other than with poisoning....that they kept a continual supply of.
                                                        She went on to tell me they feel the same way about roaches and every other type of insect and animal. I don't think, after hearing this story and the stories that my exterminator, who keeps my home monthly sprayed and inspected, tells me. The stories are shocking. I've found that everyone's standard is different. A little wild mouse sitting on your shoulder in a restaurant? Obviously your waiter didn't see any problem and there are lots out there who don't either. Amazing.

                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                          First trip to India, we were eating in an outside patio restaurant. I was munching a samosa, only to have a little hand come over my shoulder: a monkey stole my samosa. Somehow, I didn't freak (but did surrender the samosa). Guess I didn't think of the disease-carrying possibilities. BUT, saw a rat in a local fast food place, and I did freak.

                                                          1. re: pine time

                                                            Yes....and that is India. I would never assume my standards on their culture....and a monkey, a rat, a mouse.....anything and everything with no surprise.

                                                            This, however, is different. We have government agencies whose job it is to keep its citizens healthy and safe.

                                                            1. re: latindancer

                                                              and even a mouse under a table at an outdoor patio wouldn't be an enormous issue -- on the ground, outside the restaurant. (while I'm sure monkeys aren't particularly clean, I'm fairly sure they aren't confirmed carriers of the nasty diseases mice are known to carry.)

                                                              But I'm sure it was quite a shock!

                                                        2. re: sunshine842

                                                          You're very correct about pet vs wild mice, but I was just saying I'd suffer a mouse more easily than a bunch of farking maggots, or roaches, for that matter. Personal phobias and all..
                                                          Personal opinion, and I hope to never encounter either one in a restaurant

                                                      3. re: Vidute

                                                        A roach strolled across the table at lunch one day. We inverted something over it and called over the waiter, who scooped it up and walked away. And that was that.

                                                        BTW, I never pass up an opportunity to repost this chowhound classic: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/287810

                                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                          That was fantastic! Thank you for sharing that! I am sorry that PRSMDave doesn't seem to be around anymore because that was a great post on his part!

                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                            Or to recall Fawlty Towers: "Would you care for a rat? Or..."

                                                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                              I'm very slooooow finding this, but the humor of it makes it worth my wait. The funniest parts may be that A) who goes to a Mexican restaurant for a Chinese chicken salad, and B) who goes to a restaurant rated "B" by the health department! Still, a very funny tale written with great humor. So now I'm wondering how many other gems I've missed?

                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                OK, Ruth, so here's a question for you and the rest of you: yesterday for lunch we ate some pre-prepared (and packaged) Indian food (it was a bhel mix: you add your own potatoes and cilantro and sauce to the pre-prepared mix). My husband lovingly prepared it, adding all the goodies the way I like it, and I took one bite, shook my head, and told him that it tasted off and I didn't like it. He tasted it and agreed, saying that it tasted to him like the oil the bhel mix was fried in was rancid. I refused to eat more, but I my husband is the "don't waste food" type, and ate his entire bowl plus mine. Honestly, I don't know how he could stomach it; the stuff just tasted bad. And predictably, he was up half the night with "digestive upset." (I was fine). So....would you take the uneaten mix back to the Indian deli/store where we bought it, or would you complain to the health department? (since it clearly made him sick). Or both? I maintain that since it was pre-packaged, the store might not have had any way to know if it was bad. OTOH, they might just let the stuff sit on the shelf forever without proper storage......especially since we live in an area where Indian food is not all that popular and there isn't likely to be a lot of turnover on the shelves.....

                                                                1. re: janetofreno

                                                                  I've had little luck with bad products from our Indian stores, including frozen naans that were horribly moldy, once thawed & separated. Hope you have better luck, if you decide to proceed with a complaint.

                                                            2. My actions:

                                                              1) Call the manager over. Point it out, telling her/him that this was an indication of the kitchen's health standards and that you were leaving.

                                                              2) Grass up the restaurant to the public health authorities

                                                              3) Comprehensively diss the place on any online facility that serves the area.

                                                              4) Ditch the date. Anyone prepared to eat in those circumstances is not worthy of my company.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                I am curious about the expression you used; "grass up the restaurant to..."
                                                                I have never heard that before. What does it mean?

                                                                1. re: Tripeler

                                                                  To "grass up" is to inform on someone to the authorities, usually the police.


                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                    Thanks for this, Harters. It is great to have English-speakers from other locales on this board because it makes the communication so rich.

                                                                    Being from California, I could imagine that to "grass up" might mean to smoke a few joints before heading out for the evening...

                                                                2. If I were the waiter I'd have apologised, offered you a new starter and likely have informed the manager. I think the starters should have been comped and the head chef should be aware of a health hazard in their kitchen so they can fix it.

                                                                  Maggots suggest something was rotting, which to me is worse than finding a small slug from the result of poorly washed lettuce.

                                                                  1. Sorry this hapened to you, but are you absolutely certain they were maggots and not some kind of worm or caterpillar? Maggots are native to dead flesh and seriously decaying matter, while worms or caterpillars and such are native to most gardens, most especially organic gardens. If the Tiburon restaurant is one of those "garden to table" salad specialists, it's highly likely to me that you simply met with a critter that could hold on better than most in the salad spinner! So "It happens" becomes less of a smart ass remark, and more one of admission that the salad greens are VERY fresh...!

                                                                    Either way, it's not exactly a fun experience. I'm curious if they comped anything? Or gave you a "Be our guest" card for next time?

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                      I pondered the same thing...but even if they were just grubs, the reactions of the waiter and the date were still deplorable.

                                                                      Larvae of most insects look a lot alike, but that doesn't mean I'd have been any happier to have cabbage worms (only that I'd at least realize they weren't there because it was rotting...but small comfort, I think)

                                                                      1. re: sunshine842

                                                                        Well, given my druthers, I would one hell of a lot more prefer to find grubs in my salad than microbes that I cannot see. Bottom line in the good old USA today is that eating in ANY restaurant is risky. There can be hepatitis in the salad because a worker didn't wash his hands properly before handling food. A HUGE hepatitis outbreak in San Diego some yeas back was traced to a kitchen worker in a Mission Valley restaurant. Salmonella is creeping into our food supply without poultry as the carrier because it is all too often present in fresh produce that ranges from cantaloupe to lettuce. TONS of dangers come from eating in all classes of restaurants acrross the board. A white tablecloth is no guarantee of safe food. Soooooooo... Gimme grubs and keep the microbes!

                                                                        But as for the OP's situation, imo the date was her worst safety threat! I mean, the guy obviously KNOWS how to plan a great date. He's just seriously lacking in knowledge about how to carry through...! I've dated a few guys like that in my time... '-)

                                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                                          Caroline, what about mice vs grubs? Not talking about your "few guys" dates. ;-)

                                                                      2. re: Caroline1

                                                                        I was thinking the same thing: presence of maggots = presence of protein source, usually rotting meat or garbage.

                                                                        If these were truly maggots in what I'm assuming was a green salad , either the kitchen has some serious storage/disposal issues and/or cross-contamination issues. If the salad had any meat or cheese products, that could also be the source of maggots - again, a serious storage or inventory rotation issue. As is often the case in many posts, the absence of some sort of reference photo makes it difficult to judge.

                                                                        If they were worms or caterpillars, this might explain the waiter's relatively calm demeanor. The coastal regions of California have lots of small farms that are an integral part of the "farm to table" concept - I'd venture a guess that most are either certified organic or at least practice the basic principles. While finding these types of organisms would be typical from such produce (and not be nearly as big of a deal to me), I think the kitchen could have used a little more effort in scrutinizing their salad greens (again, if worms/caterpillars were the case).

                                                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                          I shop, every Sunday, at my farmer's market specifically for greens.

                                                                          The farmer I purchase these greens from is an organic farmer. Of course we don't know what the critters in the salad are where the OP dined.....but, to me, it's really irrelevant in this matter.
                                                                          Knowing the greens I purchase have not been sprayed to treat the critters....I literally wash every single leaf with care. If a guest of mine came across something like that I'd be horrified because, most likely, the guest's mind would go straight to 'maggots' unless I was prepared to give them a lecture on organic gardening. As a diner I expect everything that's put on a plate to be immaculate. Call the health department....and let them figure out the real deal.

                                                                      3. Everything else aside, I really, really hope your first date with that guy was also your last.

                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                        1. I don't know what kind of larvae you saw.You should not have seen ANY on properly washed and dried raw vegetables,salad.I also agree with posters here thinking the restaurant and your date are guilty of more than poor judgement.

                                                                          1. I would have walked out, maybe notified the health inspector. No way am I eating a meal there.

                                                                            1. If it was maggots, I would of freaked the f*ck out.

                                                                              In regards to the dumb ass waiter unapologetically stating 'it happens' comment, I probably would of had to restrain myself for not kicking his ass.

                                                                              3 Replies
                                                                              1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                BC, I couldn't have said it better myself.

                                                                                And I'd just like to say that I don't care if they were worms, grubs, maggots, catapillars, etc. - nasty is nasty and doesn't belong in my food which is marked up substantially because there is supposed to be oversight to avoid such circumstances.

                                                                                The waiter and the date deserved to have been bitch-slapped, plain and simple.

                                                                              2. Raised more hell then Carter has Liver Pills!!! ~~ Everyone there would have known about the "worms" I garontee!!

                                                                                1. What an appalling experience all around. The waiter's response was horrendous. Your date's non-response was worse. He smiled...! I would have told the manager... Off. Loudly. Then I would have walked out. I certainly would not have wanted to eat anything else, and I Never would have left a tip.

                                                                                  1. I would have asked the waiter, before showing him the maggots, for the manager. When the manager arrived at the table I would have shown him/her to offending salad. I suspect a manager would have (or at least should have) handled it differently than the waiter did.

                                                                                    I would also have reported the restaurant to the Marin County department of health. It's the type of complaint that almost always generates a visit from a health inspector. Flies have been a huge problem in CA restaurants this summer, if there are maggots in the salad, what else are they in? It does happen, but if the pantry/salad station missed it, what else is the kitchen missing? Are you sure you want a 2nd date with a guy who also didn't handle it. I'm sure it was a pretty awkward situation all around.

                                                                                    Depending upon how grossed out I was by the salad, I may have suggested to my date that we leave and find another place for dinner. Of course, that might automatically preclude a 2nd date...

                                                                                    1. "I waved the waiter over, and without a word or any drama nor creating a scene, I pointed to the maggots."

                                                                                      You handled this so discretely - did your date even realize what was happening? Did he inquire?

                                                                                      "It happens" is a bizarre answer. "I'm so sorry. Our greens are organic - we wash everything carefully but once in a while.." would be better and might allow me to relax enough for the rest of the meal.

                                                                                      1. dump your date.

                                                                                        i agree that you were probably seeing caterpillars or other vegetarian insect larvae on a green salad, rather than maggots. this makes the server's attitude and lack of any panic much more understandable-- but s/he should have apologized on behalf of the kitchen/restaurant, whisked your salad away, and brought you a replacement and generally bent over backwards to make sure you were well taken care of, at ease about the food, and happy.

                                                                                        when i was in my early twenties, i was with my family in paris and we were lunching at a regular prix fixe bistro. my salad wound up having a rather large slug in it, front and center. trying to communicate this to the waiter, who couldn't figure out quite what this american girl's problem was (and i wasn't trying to make a scene, just get a new salad), was quite convoluted and funny-- (i have poor french, and could not come up with the french word for slug). finally defaulting to english, i exclaimed: "there is an *animal* in my salad!"

                                                                                        the waiter looked down at the salad, aghast, slapped both sides of his face, a la "home alone," exclaimed (i shit you not) "sacre bleu!!!" and snatched the plate away and was back in the kitchen in seconds. an amazing conversation between the waiter and the chef was fully audible to the diners at the establishments on either side of the bistro, across the street, possibly to the end of the block. there was even some dish crashing as punctuation.

                                                                                        it was all my late father could do to stifle his giggles... it was surreal, i'm telling you. i got a new salad and was absolutely fine with the situation. when you are dealing with good clean market-fresh produce, the "clean" refers to the lack of pesticides/fungicides, not to sterility/the absolute absence of natural fauna. sometimes there are little caterpillars on the organic cauliflower or a live ladybug comes in on the local lettuce. it's kind of reassuring that the food isn't poisoned, really. in your case the kitchen fell down on the job, as there were several opportunities to catch the problem.

                                                                                        you deserved a new salad, and some concern from your server and your date. server was too casual and the date is not worth a second thought. really, he obviously couldn't care less about your feelings, ick!

                                                                                        the comparison of a caterpillar or lettuce worm, assuming that's what they were, to infestations of rodents, cockroaches, maggots and the "i want my whole $200 dinner comped or i'm calling the heath department" camp are WAY over the damn top, imo.

                                                                                        11 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                          While all you've said is good and true and a little cute at times....

                                                                                          I also have a story that deserves attention and that's why i said 'calling the health department' is warranted.
                                                                                          I shop at a market that is known, by personal chefs and people like myself who love to cook, as one of the premier places to buy great produce/fish/meat and imported goods.
                                                                                          There is a salad bar in this market that I've use consistently. I know the produce is fresh and the foods offered on it are quality.
                                                                                          Years ago I also found something crawling on the lettuce and, unless I picked the thing out and took it to an identifier, I really didn't know what it was....all i know is that it was crawling and I didn't want to eat it.
                                                                                          A few days went by and that part of the store was closed down and explanations were posted....it was now categorized, by the health department, as a "F". Anyone who lives in S Cal knows what the means. I was very shocked and called the health department to try and figure out what happened. It was explained to me that food objects in an industrial refrigerator (or any refrigerator for that matter) are to be placed on shelves and there are correct ways of doing so. As an adult I understand this but as a very young woman I had no idea. This was years ago and I've learned alot about food safety since then. The lettuce and all produce in that kitchen had been placed underneath meat products and whatever was on that meat product (obviously deteriorating) had dropped down onto the greens. This was not a garden variety slug/worm they were talking about. This was an infestation of flesh eating worms that got into the lettuce by mistake....or whatever you want to call it. Calling the health department so they can make that determination is most certainly warranted. Asking for a comp? No thanks....I've never done it anywhere I've eaten. Once the restaurant shows me they're not on top of something as simple as watching their product so the customer is now questioning their competency....I'll never go back. I'm no longer interested.

                                                                                          1. re: latindancer

                                                                                            I also recommended calling the health department and stand by that. Because of all the budget cuts many restaurants are not routinely (i.e. annually at least) inspected any more. Some can go up to 3 years without seeing the health inspector.

                                                                                            Additionally, I've worked in enough commercial kitchens over the last 35 years to know that they aren't as clean as the dining public thinks they *should* be,and that sometimes eithe rthe exec. chef or management or an owner don't want to be bothered with following the State public health laws.

                                                                                            1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                              yes, health authorities in many areas are strained. it would be a great shame to call them out and further overtax their resources because someone in a romantically lit restaurant mistook a caterpillar for a maggot, while across town people became ill from serious issues in another restaurant. but this type of frivolousness is becoming much more common than not in this society, just ask emergency room employees, cops and firefighters.

                                                                                              sometimes the rational explanation is much more on track than the emotional. adding in the tendency of people to take mistakes personally, and you have a real problem. in this case i find it much more likely that the op was mistaken about what sort of bug was present in her salad... even that her boorish date and the waiter looked at it and were able to (callously, in the date's case, and unprofessionally, in the waiter's) dismiss the problem as a non-issue. i also know rationally that if a mistake/oversight is going to happen in a popular semifine dining restaurant, it's most apt to happen when the restaurant is "filled with people at peak hour," as the op has clearly set out for us. it really sounds to me as if a simple oversight occurred in the kitchen. disappointing, yes. but, for me it's a great leap to make the assumption that flesh in a serious state of decomposition is present on the premises of the restaurant *at all,* or that it would be stored on a shelf above premium salad greens so as to drip maggots onto the leaves. this is really, really a dramatic leap.

                                                                                              to be clear, i know that the "cool heads prevail" pov is not one everyone thinks is best. many people think it's a good strategy to shoot first and sort out the bodies later. in fact the majority here seem to range from thinking it is appropriate to malign this restaurant on every internet site that exists, to seriously standing up in a crowded dining room and screaming "everyone stop eating, you're all going to die," as another poster proposed. i suppose that if you are positive that you are right, both of these are good ideas, but what if you are wrong? what do you say to people? "sorry to create mass panic and ruin everyone's nice evening/special life moments, carry on now?" "oh geez, sorry you went out of business over a caterpillar, but better safe than sorry?"

                                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                Maggot, caterpiller, fly, cockroach, a bug is a bug and they don't belong in food, particularly not in a dimly lit romantic resetaurant that, being in the Bay Area, was probably not a cheap date. Bugs and other vermin are often hitch-hikers on boxes, crates, and delivery equipment. If you see one, 99.99% of the time there are more...and often a lot more.

                                                                                                Having had experience with both the San Francisco and Marin County health departments, they're not going to go in loaded for bear looking to close the place down. They're going to go in and look for potential problems and treat the visit as a chance to education the staff on safety and santiation. Both departments always said they'd rather have someone report something not right than to ignore it and have it lead to something worse. And no one is going out of business over a caterpillar. Unless there are some fairly serious violations in the kitchen, a visit from the health probably isn't even going to generate a change in their rating. It will, however, remind the restaruant that there are public health regulations that need to be followed.

                                                                                                And for the record, I have knowingly and willingly eaten bugs. Chauplines (tasty crispy critters), ant eggs (delicious) and worms (nastry)

                                                                                                1. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                  My dining on worms experience was not done willingly. In high school, my biology teacher brought in cookies for our class one day. They were tasty oatmeal cookies, or so we thought. After the last cookie was eaten, the teacher informed us that he had made the cookies with ground up worms to show us that worms and insects could be included in our diets without compromising the flavors and textures of the foods. This was done in the days where lawsuits were unheard of. And, yes, the teacher remained employed and was not censured.

                                                                                                  1. re: Vidute

                                                                                                    Years ago when I lived overseas, the flour I bought at the base commissary had been too long on the shipping pallet and had developed weevil larvae. When I asked the base veterinarian, who was responsible for food inspection, what to do, he had a simple answer: "Don't sift! They're a good source of protien."

                                                                                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                      Yes, well, I'd like to see that person's pantry if that's their motto.

                                                                                                      I purchased whole wheat from a health food store years ago, brought it home late one evening and didn't put it in a sealed container, and the next morning woke up to an entire infestation of little moths flying all over my kitchen....hundreds of them. It was a disgusting mess and I've never purchased anything in bulk again....

                                                                                                      1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                        It's always annoying when grocery shopping turns out to be a trip to a pet store!

                                                                                                        1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                          Going on a trip and bringing home some spices - never again!! After the beautiful spices from Morocco came to life a few weeks later....

                                                                                                2. re: DiningDiva

                                                                                                  <because of all the the budget cuts?\>

                                                                                                  Absolutely. As I was told not too long ago by a friend who's been told by the mayor of my small city....it's all the more reason for citizens to call things to the attention of their government agencies. The resources are there but lots of towns/cities don't have the resources (until things hopefully get better) to go out and make random stops at restaurants.
                                                                                                  It doesn't stop me from being a good citizen. One call to the health department and a follow through by them is what the agency is there for. They may/may not find anything but it's worth the call for the potential immune compromised or small child who could potentially be affected by a restaurant who just doesn't care that much.

                                                                                              2. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                Nobody was comparing whatever-it-was-in-the-salad to other creatures who came to the table. Just having a side discussion.

                                                                                              3. The heck with the restaurant, I would have just left and I can guarantee there would have been no second date,

                                                                                                1. When eating out in Europe on our travels we try to eat outside whenever possible. So, when I see a lizard on the stone wall behind me, it hardly surprises me. But if I were to see maggots in salad it would be a different story. I would not be impressed. As others have already said, I would also report it to the manager and leave because anything that comes out of that kitchen would then be suspect in my eyes.

                                                                                                  1. You mean after I threw up?

                                                                                                    So did the waiter remove your salad? Replace it?

                                                                                                    1. This is beyond gross. Maggots? I can deal with a random bug or maybe even a poor dead spider (spiders in the garden = good), but maggots? Something is wrong there, and clearly noone is taking care in the kitchen.
                                                                                                      More importantly, which place in Tiburon was it? We bike through there almost every weekend and often talk about stopping for lunch, but now I'm terrified I'll choose the place that served you maggots!
                                                                                                      They take reservations, huh? That might help me narrow it down...

                                                                                                      1. Did they charge extra for the added protein?

                                                                                                        1. Well, I would NOT have let them charge me for the "chicken," the "salmon," or the "beef" add-on to that salad!


                                                                                                          1. Honestly? I might have actually been sick. I'm not one to make a scene, but maggots really turn my stomach. Found a bunch in one of the trash barrels in our church kitchen, and couldn't even look at that barrel for the rest of the morning.

                                                                                                            I think you handled the situation very graciously, but I don't see how I could have eaten anything at that restaurant after that.

                                                                                                            I understand vermin. (figuratively, I mean) They do "happen" and aren't a deal breaker, but to have actual maggots on a plate shows a lack of attention that is really appalling. I think I would have just motioned the waiter over and told him why I had to leave.

                                                                                                            I wish I were dieting or something because you've just killed my appetite for a few hours.....

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: Isolda

                                                                                                              I know, it's disgusting to think about. Just seeing this thread title pop up in my recent posts is making me queasy today.
                                                                                                              I keep coming back because I want to know which restaurant it was, so I don't go to it. Yuck.

                                                                                                            2. "Maggots in salad at restaurant. What would you have done?"

                                                                                                              screamed and run in horror...

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: iL Divo

                                                                                                                That was my first thought on seeing the thread title!

                                                                                                              2. goodness alive, i would have got up and left in revulsion. normally maggots are because files have laid eggs on putrid meat, so it is weird to think of them in salad.

                                                                                                                how the date could blithely eat on? …and even worse, the waiter saying what he said….

                                                                                                                i'd have made a beeline out the door (and alone-- heh heh).

                                                                                                                1. Really,more info needs to be obtained from this story before any bashing of the male's reaction to this incident. It's a first date,the character of both diners isn't known,what happened after they left the restaurant,how was their connection prior to arriving at the restaurant.was there anything in his salad.Don't turn the guy into a stooge based on a 1 sentence reaction to the initial stage of this incident. A first date is not the same as your husband "smiling at you and starting to eat his salad"

                                                                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                                                                  1. re: shikken

                                                                                                                    We females, over a period of time (hopefully shorter than longer) learn what we term 'red flags'.
                                                                                                                    This male exhibited a big one and it doesn't necessarily require a 2nd date to determine that.

                                                                                                                    1. re: latindancer

                                                                                                                      That may be so, but it strikes me as very odd behavior - from the OP's description, I kind of wonder if the date simply didn't know what was going on and opted to smile and nod, aware that his date signaled the waiter, but unaware of what the actual issue was. It sounds like the OP was trying to downplay the situation, so maybe he just didn't realize anything much was wrong. Opting for the 'smile and nod' routine when you're confused may not always be the best policy, but it doesn't make you a huge asshole either.

                                                                                                                      Of course, if the OP has good reason to believe he understood what was going on and that was his reaction, then yeah, screw that douchebag.

                                                                                                                      1. re: cowboyardee

                                                                                                                        or rather: then yeah, DON'T screw that douchebag.

                                                                                                                    2. re: shikken

                                                                                                                      Yup, but most have already dismissed or didn't think of your valid points. They've already chastised the men as bearish trogs with no consideration of the possibilty that the OP is not an entomologist. Again, I'm not saying there was no bug nor is it great to find a bug in one's meal. But a butterfly larvae means something totally different from a fly larvae. My wife mistook a couple of harmless cabbage moth larvae as maggots in our FM-sourced organic broccoli. No one got bitch-slapped either.

                                                                                                                      1. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                        I think it was the utter disregard for the OP that led most of us to chastise the waiter and the date as boors.

                                                                                                                        The waiter shrugged and said "it happens" -- when **even if it were a rainbow-striped butterfly larvae** it didn't belong in the salad, and the salad should have been replaced without question immediately.

                                                                                                                        The date shrugged and commenced to eat his own salad...indicating an utter lack of concern about the OPs feelings or his own salad, and dismissing her reaction as trivial and unimportant.

                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                          Yeah, it seems that both the date and the waiter were way creepier than the maggots, as creepy as they were.

                                                                                                                        2. re: bulavinaka

                                                                                                                          Granted I'm back up the thread with the bitch-slap folks.Above that I posted no one had an ID or wild ass guess on the larvae,PLURAL,not larva.
                                                                                                                          But there is absolutely NO EXCUSE for not thoroughly,properly, washing ANY VEGETABLE,
                                                                                                                          salad or not PRIOR TO FOOD SERVICE....NO EXCUSES...
                                                                                                                          I don't give a rats ass what they were.I am a small specialty farmer and F&B trade,so yes critters are there before, NOT AFTER YOU PREP,WASH AND SERVE !!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                                          This isn't an example of shit happens.It's shit,someone did not do their job.WASH is restaurant 101,hands,dishes and much food prep.

                                                                                                                      2. This thread makes me think of a recent mouse incident. My mom and I had stopped in a local bakery. It's an old free standing building maybe 20 feet x 30 feet at most. Since it was a nice day both the front and back doors were open. The doors and the gap in the counter all line up. We happened to see a family friend and were chatting when a baby mouse ran by. Being from a rural area, we carried on chatting while my mom grabbed a disposable cup and swept the mouse into it and deposited him outside. It wasn't until the owner started apologizing profusely that it dawned on us that blithe indifference to a mouse might not be the norm. Mom got a Linzer cookie for her troubles and our friend bought 2 pies. So, one little mouse doesn't bother me. Maggots? I'd have left. If maggots are making their way to a table in a prepared salad, lord knows what's happening in the kitchen.

                                                                                                                        1. Called the health dept and waited for them to arrive. I waitressed for years and never saw anything like this. That is so disgusting. I couldn't have eaten a bite of anything from that kitchen. EWWWW Gross.

                                                                                                                          1. I would have gotten up and quietly said "I'm out of here," never to see either the date or the restaurant again.

                                                                                                                            1. This is a 50/50 draw and here is why...
                                                                                                                              I am a trained chef and I have worked in the restaurant industry as both BOH and FOH staff, and I can say with certainty that NEVER is it okay to see maggots in a commercial sized kitchen, let alone in food served to a customer.
                                                                                                                              While it isn't uncommon to find small plant eating bugs in salad greens, maggots in this case are far from home. It’s true even after washing veggies a bug or two survives, but maggots, which live and feed off of animal flesh, can't survive in green conditions. This tells us that those little dudes came from somewhere else. Somewhere bloody and rotting...and that’s not okay.
                                                                                                                              Because I have worked in customer service, I can appreciate your calm demeanor. There is never any reason to yell.
                                                                                                                              But, 'It happens' is not a proper or professional response from a server. Because no, maggots do not 'happen', except in trashcans. So unless their establishment is a trashcan, I suggest they clean up their operation and train their staff a little better. As for you, I would have bounced.
                                                                                                                              To answer your question, this would never happen in my home.

                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: VioletsKitchen

                                                                                                                                I expect they were actually caterpillars, not fly larvae. Still, the server should have removed the salad and offerred something else.

                                                                                                                                1. re: GH1618

                                                                                                                                  That is indeed a possibility. And yes, a decent comp was in order.

                                                                                                                              2. If I had friends over for dinner and this happened in my home...

                                                                                                                                "several maggots squirming and bopping up and down in the greens" ?!?

                                                                                                                                Not a possibility.

                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                1. re: Kholvaitar

                                                                                                                                  Were they actually maggots? White ones? Or were they little green worms. These little green worms live on/in heads of lettuce. They are harmless to eat but obviously not a pleasant site.
                                                                                                                                  None of my business but your 'date's' reaction was a bit mild. Had I been him I wouldn't have shrugged off the incident so easily. I would have had a quite word with the manager/owner.http://www.google.ca/?gws_rd=cr&amp;e...

                                                                                                                                2. "It happens" but more importantly, there would be no second date.

                                                                                                                                  1. Several people have asked, but I haven't seen where the OP answered whether they were truly maggots (bad thing) or possibly caterpillars ("it happens"). I'm doubtful that they were maggots, because maggots aren't typically found in greens until things are well along the road to Rotville.

                                                                                                                                    1. I would have called board of health from my seat in the restaurant. That is soooo disgusting. I worked in lots of restaurants and NEVER saw this. This place must have had a disgusting kitchen. Gives me the creeps just thinking about it.