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The Bread Rule

I heard recently that if the bread is good, the food will be good. I was a little skeptical, but fresh off a semi-successful foodie jaunt to Europe (Spain, France and Italy), I have to say this is true. 9 out of 10 times, if the bread was good, the food followed suit.

Have you experienced the same?

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  1. I do find it to be the case. The converse is not always true (if the bread is mediocre/bad the food might still be good) but truly good bread (especially with nice oil or reasonable temperature butter) is very often a portent of a nice meal to follow.

    1. If the bread *and* the butter (or olive oil) is good, well then...

      1. nope. i don't ever recall having good bread in spain and i had many sublime meals.

        just last night i had very good bread and the food was very mediocre.

        10 Replies
        1. re: hotoynoodle

          What about the converse--ever had bad bread but a good meal?

          I don't think I have...times I have had good bread and a bad meal has been my fault--the other diners ordered well and had good entrees.

          1. re: veganish

            yes, like i said--in spain. i had universally terrible bread. flavorless airy baguettes with lousy crusts. and wonderful dreamy meals at many price points.

            1. re: hotoynoodle

              And, if you got the flavourless airy baguette rubbed with half-ripe tomato, you knew you were in for tinned asparagus with bottled all i oli, deep-fried fish stick of dubious provenance, and tinned flan, or something like. Or maybe that was just Catalunya.

            2. re: veganish

              If'n y'all think you caint have bead bread with a good meal, y'all obviously ain't never been to Dreamland, 'cuz they make some of the tastiest damn ribs in the country, and they serve it with slices of white sandwich bread, straight from the grocery store.

              1. re: mclaugh

                Come to think of it, most BBQ places that serve bread rather than hushpuppies or cornbread serve white bread. In fact, I can't think of a BBQ restaurant that DOESN'T serve white bread.

                1. re: mclaugh

                  I thought of the same thing: all the best BBQ restaurants serve fluffy, full-of-conditioners, commercial white spongy bread. It's what GOES with real pit BBQ. Artisanal meats & sausages served with truly crappy bread.

                  1. re: Hungry Celeste

                    Although I know that's what you're supposed to serve with BBQ, I really don't like that white fluffy bread. I'm looking for a BBQ place that serves some good artisanal bread. It may be an anathema, but I prefer a sturdier loaf to stand up to the rich smokiness of the meat.

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      I get not liking white bread....but I think a BBQ joint would get shut down by some secret agency if they tried to serve the Q on whole wheat, or worse, whole grain bread :)

            3. re: hotoynoodle

              I had fantastic bread in Spain. One place in particular had some of the best bread I've ever had. Perhaps you didn't make to enough places. I think ruling out a whole country is a bit extreme, but Spain wasn't the point, bread in relationship to the meal was.

              1. re: biscuit

                Having spent the past dozen years or so working in Europe (east and west, north and south), I'd have to agree that bread in general is not a strong point in Spanish cuisine - they tend to prefer it soft-crusted and with little or no salt, which doesn't please my palate. Granted there are exceptions, but as a rule their bread is pretty bland and boring. Not so the food!

            4. In my experience, what you are saying is true but it depends on what you consider to be "good" bread. My son loves the bread at Olive Garden (which I find fairly obvious; as a kid probably would like it). Good bread as I see it has a firm crust and an almost a cotton ball appearance on the inside when torn apart (never is undercooked super soggy doughy (olive garden) bread ever "good" in my opinion). So when I start a meal at a new restaurant and the bread is how I like it the chances the food will be good are high. Serious attention to bread usually equates to serious attention to food.

              1. Agreed. A restaurant that takes the time to either make their own or buy really great bread cares about your entire experience. For a lot of places, I think it is just an afterthought.

                1. Rules like this are never hard and fast. They are only correlations. Now there probably is a positive correlation. As said above, a restaurant that cares about food should care about bread. But consider -- the top chef in a top restaurant might not be involved with the bread, or at least not very involved. It might be ordered by a manager who is concerned about cost. And, if I had to choose between a cheaper bread and, say, a lower grade of tuna, I'd go for Wonder bread.

                  And for Chinese restaurants, the rule is a no-go. Even in northern Chinese restaurants, unless you order a fried bread specialty like a bing, you'll probably get a mantou, which to me is a big bowl of play-doh on a plate.

                  1. I find too that an individual’s bread selection (and pepper for that matter) can provide a clue into that individual’s food appreciation development. If you serve the generic “Italian loaf” from the supermarket in the foil sack at a dinner you are at one stage. If you go to your local artisanal baker for a baguette you are at another. When it comes to pepper there are pre-ground users and those who use a peppermill.

                    1. Similar to the comment on spanish food, I would nominate pretty much South America in general for the bad bread, good food award. We would have amazing $5 steak and malbec dinners served with an array of sides, one of which was often bread that tasted like it had either been sitting around for a few days, or conversely had been soaked in oil water and only partially dried....