Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Was my dinner bad?


RonV
 Share

Recommended Posts

Just got back from dinner with the girlfriend at a very high end seafood restaurant in Philadelphia. We eat out a lot, know what we like, but sometimes assume that if it came out of the kitchen a certain way, then it's the way it should have been. But tonight I had a few questions and as someone who is thoroughly embarrassed when I'm out with people who give the wait staff a hard time, I decided not to say anything, because I'm not sure if what we got was actually wrong.

The first issue was on the raw bar plate. Both of us found a good deal of shell/grit in the oysters. She tried to convince me that's normal and natural, and as someone who isn't a big oyster eater, I took her word for it.

The next one was on my grilled salmon. Not sure if this is a sign it was overcooked, or just a result of a certain cooking style, but there was a line of gray "meat" between the salmon and the skin. I've had this before from what I considered low end eateries and assumed it was a mistake, since it's not very appetizing. But again, as a steak guy, I wasn't sure if I was right or wrong.

Obviously neither of these ruined the meal, but for $145 (before tip) when we weren't drinking, I'd hope things would be perfect. Like I said, however, I'm not one to raise a stink, especially when I don't know if something's wrong in the first place.

Suggestions?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The next one was on my grilled salmon. Not sure if this is a sign it was overcooked, or just a result of a certain cooking style, but there was a line of gray "meat" between the salmon and the skin. I've had this before from what I considered low end eateries and assumed it was a mistake, since it's not very appetizing. But again, as a steak guy, I wasn't sure if I was right or wrong.

That grey stuff is (for lack of a better word) fat, and in most North American fresh water salmon, trout, etc. is best scraped off because it is reported that it can be a repository for contaminates that occur in the water. Where was the salmon caught? What kind was it?

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It was Ivory King Salmon from Alaska, which I very much enjoyed (except for the grey part) as it was whiter and steakier than the coho salmon my gf ordered.

Do you think this was a matter of preparation, or of fish not up to the standards you'd expect at $40/plate. I'm trying to be fair, and want advice from the experts before passing judgment. Part of me wonders if we beam about a "great dinner" just because it was at a restaurant heralded in the press with impressive space, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

All salmon has that grey fat on it and it always tastes like shit. It has a very "fishy" taste to it that I, personally, can't stand.

There are a lot of different ways that you can filet the fish. Most places are going to skin the fish but it you're still going to get some of that grey area unless you're god's gift with a fileting knife. For whatever reason this place has decided to leave the skin on and, as such, you're going to get some fat along with it. Unadulerated, but it means you going to have to do a little work. Unless you're a savage and eat it skin and all.

I eat salmon all the time and I just scrap the grey part off. It separates from the more colorful muscle pretty easily.

As for the oysters, you've got to consider what an oyster is. It a bivalve mollusk that live on the bottom of the sea floor. It eats by sucking up the water around it and filtering out whatever nutrition it can. A lot of what it sucks up is going to be sand being as it laying on or buried in a bed of sand. So that explains for the grit. I can't really comment on the amount of shell left in the oyster as I have little experience in shucking oysters. When I have done it it has been pretty hard to avoid breaking off bits of the shell from time to time. Especially on oysters that are really tightly closed. The process is pretty violent, either way.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, I pretty much resound most everything to this point--though I don't think that you are a SAVAGE if you eat salmon skin (that is a silly statement).

A little sand is par for the course on oysters. Shell is not really. Sounds like th e shucker didn't have a good night. Most of the time when I would shuck an oyster and see a lot of sand, I would rinse if off quickly under a tap. What a lot of people don't realize is that the oyster will, even after the initial "liquor" and water has been drained off, emit more liquor for the diner to enjoy. I didn't usually have a problem with shells, but like I said, sandy oysters got a quick rinse.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

My opinion is the reverse of Marky Marc's. It's a stylistic choice to serve the salmon with the skin; I prefer that, especially when the skin is nice and crispy, and the grey layer doesn't taste wrong to me. I like fish to taste like fish.

But as for the oysters, yes, the person opening them didn't know what s/he was doing. You have to finesse oysters when opening them, and pour out the "first water" (a second water forms; this, the oyster eater usually drinks from the shell after eating the oyster); and I even sometimes wipe the surface of the little animal itself if I clumsily leave a shard of shell.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

my opinion...you obviously did not feel happy with it and the amt of money you paid did not seem to meet with your expectations of the food ...

so it does not matter to some folks there was grit the oysters (and in a fine restaurant I would not be happy with that either!) or gray stuff on the salmon ..you do not seem happy with the dinner..and in my mind that is the bottom line!

it went before your eyes as unappealing and into your mouth as unappealing... then to your tummy ...all of this sounds very unsatisfactory ...so to me that is probably not a good meal for sure!!!

no other opinion should matter but your own!

why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Was my dinner bad? And how best to handle?

Well, it looks like there may have been a combination of less than perfect handling of the oysters and uneducated expectations for the salmon.

Was your dinner bad? No.

Were you pleased with it? No.

How best to handle? Don't go back.

I'm sure many here will attest to going to a restaurant that we expected to be fabulous and were less than thrilled. Unless a restaurant gives horrible service or the food is actually "wrong" to some extent, there isn't really much a patron should do except not repeat the experience.

Good luck in the future and Happy Eating!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the grand scheme of things, you could look at this meal as another lesson in the eating education. Some things you didn't like, but that is personal preference. Some things like shell particals are plainly unacceptable. Unless the meal was just flat out bad, you otherwise experienced stylistic difference and sloppiness.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You have to finesse oysters when opening them, and pour out the "first water" (a second water forms; this, the oyster eater usually drinks from the shell after eating the oyster);

ah! another paris oyster eater who "believes" in second water -- that the second water forms after the gritty first is discarded is what i was taught and have found to be true. but i was taken to task on the montreal board by a contributor called "oyster guy". not that i would bear a grudge or anything...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks for the feedback guys. I think the idea that I'm "learning" is right on the money, and that's why I toss these questions out there. Now that I know there's a strong risk of shells/sand in oysters, I'll probably skip them. I've found I enjoy clams more anyway, so that's fine.

With the salmon, glad I'm not crazy, but now I understand what it is at least. When it comes to steak I'm far more comfortable knowing what's a good vs. bad piece of meat, what was destroyed in the kitchen,etc.

I'm just trying to be incredibly open minded lately, and don't want to be turned off to something just because one kitchen screwed it up. Thanks for all the feedback.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Now that I know there's a strong risk of shells/sand in oysters, I'll probably skip them. I've found I enjoy clams more anyway, so that's fine.

Clams are the exact same way. I've cooked clams that were literally all sand on the inside. If you want to avoid all traces of sand stick with mussles. They are much less likely to live on the ocean floor. Scallops are a good bet too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Clams are the exact same way. I've cooked clams that were literally all sand on the inside. If you want to avoid all traces of sand stick with mussles. They are much less likely to live on the ocean floor. Scallops are a good bet too.

If you take the proper steps and "purge" the clams by soaking them in water they tend to release majority of that sand.

There is still going to be some sand. There have been times I've soaked them for a couple of hours under running water in a large perforated hotel pan. They were fully submerged and rinsing at the same time. There was still sand left. That's at least how it's panned out for me with PNW Manila clams.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pretty sure it wasn't sand that was so objectionable the other night. It was definitely chunks of shell. Actually had some cherry stone and little neck clams tonight and the slight bit of grit was fine. However, I'm learning, because this time I picked out the little piece of shell, lifted up the clams to let them drain and get rid of some what was happening here.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pretty sure it wasn't sand that was so objectionable the other night. It  was definitely chunks of shell. Actually had some cherry stone and little neck clams tonight and the slight bit of grit was fine. However, I'm learning, because this time I picked out the little piece of shell, lifted up the clams to let them drain and get rid of some what was happening here.

Yeah, those chunks of shell are far less pleasant. That's for certain.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When your paying $145 for a meal for two believe the owner/chef/server of that restaurant want you to ask about your food. I'm sure you would of gotten a new plate of oysters and added attention to the rest of your meal.

You're not going to get that oyster shucker in trouble your are going to get that person trained.

"And in the meantime, listen to your appetite and play with your food."

Alton Brown, Good Eats

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...