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Mussel roulette in restaurants?

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Mussel roulette in restaurants?

fendel | May 10, 2008 05:01 PM

I just ordered mussels in a restaurant that I've been going to a lot recently -- have had no prior bad experiences there... When they set the mussels in front of me, I thought something smelled a little off. But smell is so subjective; I had just been reading Kitchen Confidential and figured I was just on heightened Mussel Alert from Bourdain's dire comments about restaurant mussels... so I forked one, took a careful sniff, and ate it.

The next one that my eye settled on had a broken shell. Normally my rule is, if a mussel has a broken shell, I assume it's bad, since I have no way of knowing whether it broke before cooking or during. (Unless the restaurant has an unusually violent cooking method for mussels, "before" would surely be the more likely scenario.) Am I right in assuming that a mussel with a broken shell is probably a dead mussel?

I sent them back -- the restaurant was gracious about it, although I did notice another order of mussels go out about fifteen minutes later. Did I overreact? (Am not sick yet, but it's only been an hour and I only ate one mussel.)

Do you order restaurant mussels, and how do you know whether to trust them?

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