Picture it: A cold, dark weeknight. Mike brought home takeout from a local Chinese restaurant. We’d ordered from there a few times before. It’s… your basic Chinese place. Serviceable. It makes our speed dial by virtue of being in their delivery zone. We were just settling in with the delivery, food unpacked and steaming. The baby is asleep and both of us are hungry after a long day at work. And then Mike spots it. Good old Periplaneta americana, floating in the broth.
When dining out, we all labor under some ignorance-is-bliss policies. I mean, of course that pretty waitress thinks you are hilarious. Why no, the chef doesn’t mind making those 3 substitutions on your dish in the middle of the Saturday night crush. In fact, he doesn’t think a quattro formaggio should have 4 cheeses either! It’s just overkill! The myth of the pristine kitchen is a major diner delusion. I expect a reasonable restaurant to keep it’s kitchen clean, sure. Food at the right temperature, check. When in doubt, throw it out. A mop-down, wipe-up, once over every night. But eat-off-the-floor pristine? You are high. And one of the scariest offenses – the dreaded insect – is likely more common in every restaurant kitchen than we may like to think. Plus, Americans eat more bugs than they realize.
Still. There is a difference between accepting this on a hypothetical level and being faced with gross insect evidence swimming in your soup. Mike called the restaurant to argue for a refund.
Would we like another bowl of soup? No… it’s going to be from the same pot as this one, isn’t it?
Is there something wrong with the rest of the food? Not that we can see. But we aren’t eating it.
Fine. Then we’re taking all the food back if you want a refund. Fine. You do that.
And they did. This is where a story would normally end with a grossed-out customer erasing a mediocre Chinese place from her cell phone. But this is actually where it got interesting.
About an hour later, we received a phone call. It was the owner. She wasn’t working that evening but she heard about what happened and wanted to speak with us. She is horrified. She is so sorry. This has never happened before. She runs a clean kitchen, we are welcome to stop by the restaurant any time and she will walk us back there herself. The entire pot of soup has been thrown out and everything is scrubbed down. Can she please send us a fresh batch of dinner? No charge, of course.
We said no thank you. We’d made other dinner arrangements by then. It was nice of her to take the step to call. It was really more than we expected.
The next day, there was a knock at our door. It was the owner. She came by to apologize in person. They had been in the neighborhood for years and, she swore, this has never happened before. Her customers are like family. We can walk through the kitchen any time, it is very clean. She understands if we never give her business again but please, here is a $50 gift certificate to the restaurant. She hopes we will come back. She is so terribly sorry.
I. was. floored.
So question to you, food blog reader: Would you go back?