Bug Off

Recently I got a call from a BiteClubber who was shocked to have a found a bug in her salad at a local restaurant. A sign of a dirty kitchen? Slacking oversight? The key, I told her, was where she found the bug. In her salad.

After talking to some local chefs, the news is a little less distressing. Blame it on organic greens. Because many restaurants are using salad mixes that aren’t sprayed with the nasty stuff that might make us sick, the greens also aren’t always repelling the little critters that feast on them. So, despite the fact that most restaurants still wash the greens after they arrive, there’s a chance that you’ll find a rogue hanger-on once your salad has been dressed and brought to the table. Obviously that doesn’t make discovering a creepy crawler in your arugula any less unappetizing.

So, what to do? Should you be the unlucky winner of the bug lotto, the best thing to do is to let your server know right away. There’s no need for hysterics. A good restaurant will immediately take away the offending plate and offer you a new one. Chances are your appetite for more of the same has been dampened, so the folks I’ve talked to say that the best practice is to (obviously) comp the salad and offer you their heartfelt apologies. Better restaurants may also sweeten the deal with a free dessert or a small gift certificate to get you to come back.

There is, however, a BIG difference between finding a field bug in your salad and finding a roach. There’s never an excuse for roaches. Ever. You also should never be subjected to finding a bug in cooked food. That’s clearly more a problem and needs not only to be reported to the chef and may also warrant a report to the Food Inspectors. Oopsies happen from time to time, even at the best restaurants, but a serious infestation needs to be taken very, very seriously.

If you’re wondering exactly how clean the restaurants you’ve been frequenting are, you can check out their current status with the Sonoma County health department online or the Napa Health officials. Major critical violations may warrant immediate closure of the facility.

Mmmm. Anyone hungry?