Dear PoPville – Why was I Refused a Doggy-Bag for my Leftover Mussels?

Photo by flickr user avlxyz

Dear PoPville,

The real issue started toward the end of the meal. My friend wanted to take most of her meal home with her. The woman who cleared my plate said this wasn’t possible. We didn’t quite understand and asked to speak with our server. My friend and I looked at one another and wondered if there was a language issue or if we were unclear somehow. Our server proceeded to tell us that it was the restaurant’s policy that no shellfish leave the premises with customers due to allergy concerns. This struck us as strange.

At this point we asked to speak with a manager, as neither of us had heard of anything like this before and my friend had over half of her mussels left.

The manager finally came over. He explained that it was the restaurant’s policy and that it is traditional for French and Belgian restaurants to do this for fear that the chef might have undercooked a mussel. He said that if my friend got sick from mussels that he wouldn’t want her to blame the restaurant. I thought, wouldn’t she get sick regardless of whether she took the mussels home or not if they were undercooked to begin with?

I’m pretty sure this a food safety issue. Can any good researchers out there find the explanation of why you aren’t allowed to take home mussels from a restaurant?

50 Comment

  • nothing sounds tastier than leftover mussels.

    seriously, unless there’s a strong argument otherwise, i side with the restaurant on this.

    • Y’all are amateurs. Add those leftover puppies to some fresh pasta and toss to heat ’em up. The broth doubles as a sauce. Yum.

      • correct. i am not a professional eater.
        nor would i want be.

        i will mail you my leftovers.

      • You sound like Carl Weathers on Arrested Development. “There’s still plenty of meat on that bone, now you take this home, throw it in a pot, add some broth, a potato, baby you’ve got a stew going!”

  • Although this particular policy seems to be shellfish specific — in many countries, taking any leftovers home is prohibited and cited as a health code issue. I live in Denmark for several years, and I quickly learned not to ask for a doggy bag.

  • anonymouse_dianne

    I have run into this as well, also at a French restaurant on Conn Ave. Sometimes if you ask for the restaurant to take them out of the shell they will allow it.

  • GiantSquid

    Give Granville Moore’s a call. There is language on their menu that says mussels are not available for take out or take home.

  • leftover mussels? Why would anyone ever want to take that home? Thats not really the type of meal that bodes well as leftovers.

  • Emmaleigh504

    I don’t see why shellfish would be more dangerous than other food. They should just put a blanket ban on doggy bags or let all food be taken home.

  • Who the hell takes home uneaten shellfish?!

  • Do you know why mussels won’t share their toys? Because they’re shellfish.

  • 1. Have you actually ever tried to reheat mussels? If you heat too much or too long, it’s sorta like chewing on an eraser.
    2. Shellfish can be eaten as leftovers the next day as long as they didn’t sit out for longer than 2 hours after cooking.

  • Grow a larger appetite

  • Bistro du Coin won’t let you take their mussels home. But Le Diplomat will. It’s really the restaurant preference. But in either case, just accept it.

    • So, the restaurants that say it is against DC Health Code are liars.


      No doggie bags at all or give the customer a doggy bag when they ask for it.


      • it’s pretentious for the restaurant to think it’s unhealthy? i don’t get it.

        • It is pretentious for the restaurants to deem human beings incapable of managing our own food consumption.

          The DC Health Code says nothing about shellfish and take-aways.
          Restaurants use this as an excuse to be pretentious in their dealings with their own customers.

          Did that clear up your confusion?

  • I don’t understand how a restaurant won’t “let” you take home something that you paid for.

  • The restaurant’s given excuse sounds bogus. I’d think it would have more to do with, “We can’t control how you will care for the mussels once they leave our establishment. We don’t want to be sued because you got sick with mussels you left on the counter overnight or decided to eat a week from now because ‘They didn’t smell THAT bad.’ Oh, and you’re father was a hamster and you mother smelled of elderberries! I fart in your general direction!!!” Or something like that.

  • Friend of the OP mentioned above here. This happened last night at B. Too. In the email sent to PoP, my friend explained that our issue was less about the leftover mussels and more about the treatment we received. The service was definitely subpar throughout the meal and it took 20 minutes before someone came to answer our question about the take home policy. The manager became very aggressive, took a step toward me and said something along the lines of, “this is how it is. I don’t know why you are ruining a perfectly lovely meal right now or why you are threatening me.” He continued to berate our table until we asked him to please just leave us alone so that we could pay and get out of there. This guy seems like a total loose cannon. Questionable policy (and my taste in day-old shellfish, apparently) aside, I won’t be returning.

    • I hope you reviewed this place on Yelp. There are plenty of places to eat in the area – this won’t be one of them.

      • You sound like someone who has never worked at a restaurant. I can’t wait for the day they have Yelp for all the shitty people who think they know everything about serving and restaurants, yet have never worked in one. Yelp! is most likely one of the factors in this restaurant’s choice not to wrap mussels. They know some D.C. residents are quick to complain, yelp, and call the Health department. Kudos to the restaurant for handling this well and not giving in to one more D.C. type who wants what they want in spite of business practices.

        That being said, the menu should probably say this to avoid bitching, complaints, and having to give refunds to annoyed customers with leftover mussels. It would save so much trouble for everyone.

        • justinbc

          “1 star – Restaurant wouldn’t let me take home my bag of mussels!”


          “1 star – I took my mussels home and reheated them the next day and they were awful, wtf!”

          If I’m a restaurant, I would go with the former rather than the latter. But I agree that it should be printed on the menu as it is at other places such as Beck and GM. (That’s assuming that it’s not, which it might be, and the OP just completely missed it.)

    • That’s too bad. I’ve eaten at B. Too twice now and not only had much better service than I normally get in DC, but also really enjoyed the food.

  • I think my dog would get sick if I fed her mussels.

  • I know you shelled out a lot of clams for it, but don’t be crabby

  • At Brasserie Beck they say right on the menu something to the effect that due to the delicate nature of the mussels they won’t wrap them up to go. Sounded reasonable. Knowing this we ordered anyway and it turns out they were so good it wasn’t an issue.

  • It is so odd that you city slickers haven’t figured this one out yet. you KNOW they reuse those muscles, some places do it with the bread you leave in the basket on the table.

  • I have also run in to this. Mostly at Sushi places but I can see mussels falling into this cautionary category as well.

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