HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
What are you cooking today? Share your food adventure

Eating Bread in a Restaurant......

purplepiano May 8, 2007 11:04 AM

How do you go about eating your basket of bread provided by a restaurant? I heard that the proper way is to first have it broken into a smaller bite-size piece --> spread butter on it with a knife --> put the piece into mouth. I've also seen many who just hold the piece of bread and just bite straight into it. Or some who spread butter on the bread, take a bite, then spread some more butter, and take another bite... i guess the possibility is endless. Just out of curiosity, how do you guys eat yours and do you think it matters when eating out at a higher-end restaurant?

  1. h
    happyhomemaker May 8, 2007 11:21 AM

    I was taught, by my parents, to break the bread in half and then butter each bite as you eat the bread.

    1. m
      magfitz May 8, 2007 11:23 AM

      generally, i will break off the piece that I am going to eat (not necessarily in one bite). butter that piece and proceed to eat it. Then when i am ready for another piece, i break off another and butter that one. piece sizes are usually about two bite sized.

      1. Tee May 8, 2007 11:26 AM

        I am no Emily Post but my good Southern Mother taught me 2 things about bread and butter:
        1. you eat it the same way at home as you do in public, and that includes other peoples homes and restaurants of any stripe.
        2. move the butter from the butter plate to your bread plate (a small pat at a time) using your butter knife. Then break just enough bread for a proper sized bite, butter it, put down your butter knife and then eat the bite of bread.
        I know you said you have seen variations and the possibilities are endless but not under the confines of good manners. I see plenty of elbows on tables, hats on heads, left arms protecting plates as from wolves, open mouths, ect. and just because the great unwashed does it doesn't make it right.
        I don't mean to rant, but I am known as Manners Man by my 9 year old daughter....

        2 Replies
        1. re: Tee
          hotoynoodle May 8, 2007 11:39 AM

          tee is 100% right. variations on a theme don't mean those other folks are correct.

          1. re: Tee
            purple goddess May 10, 2007 11:09 PM

            and I always thought that taking the butter from the dish, with the butter knife and placing it on the side of you bread plate, and then using yout butter knife to butter the bread was a Mater Beige-ism!!!

          2. m
            mojoeater May 8, 2007 11:28 AM

            So many places don't serve bread anymore that I can't remember what I do!

            1 Reply
            1. re: mojoeater
              lagatta May 8, 2007 12:13 PM

              Tend to agree with Tee, but do remember that ARMS (not elbows) on tables is one of those US vs Europe differences in proper manners. (and of course, I've seen both here, among polite people)...

              How about olive oil (with bread)? I put a bit on the bread dish and dunk the bread in it.

            2. l
              laurendlewis May 8, 2007 12:39 PM

              What about places that serve a hunk of bread for the entire table? Depending on with whom I am dining, it could be gross to have someone else touch my bread....

              Not to mention that most places it's not even worth eating the bread, but that's a whole other story.

              9 Replies
              1. re: laurendlewis
                jfood May 8, 2007 01:01 PM

                Pet peeve of the jfoods. When this occurs jfood takes the basket FIRST and give a piece to mrs jfood and then one for jfood. Then we wait for the others to finish. If we want a second piece we ask the waiter for another basket and then go for it first. Once it's touched by others its breado non grato for the jfoods.

                1. re: jfood
                  Tee May 8, 2007 01:20 PM

                  wow! what if a party of 8 jfoods were together? The bread baskets would cover the table!
                  I have this mental picture of jfood sliding headlong down the table to grab that dang breadbasket FIRST!

                  1. re: Tee
                    jfood May 8, 2007 01:32 PM

                    good news is that there are only 4 jfoods and if there were 8 people at the table then jfood would ask for 2 baskets.

                    in Commanders in NOLA last week and the server first offered us a pieces rom the basket which he placed on our plates, then placed the basket on the table. Nice touch. Only 3 jfoods present.

                    1. re: jfood
                      Tee May 8, 2007 01:41 PM

                      Indeed a nice touch.
                      Also, I did not mean to offend one single jfood!
                      (Tee is a little afraid of people who refer to themselves in the 3rd person!)

                      1. re: Tee
                        normalheightsfoodie May 8, 2007 01:49 PM

                        I read Jfood with a great deal of delight, I now know that I do not need to go see a therapist and there are other Germphobic folks out there. You never know where the other hands have been.

                        But then I remind myself that people have been sharing bread for a very long time and it has not killed anyone that I am aware of.

                        What happens of someone ios also like Jfood, do they have a
                        Mexican -Standoff?

                        1. re: normalheightsfoodie
                          jfood May 8, 2007 04:43 PM

                          Nope, just ask for a second basket. Been there done that.

                2. re: laurendlewis
                  Alan408 May 8, 2007 01:47 PM

                  Often the bread basket will have a cloth liner, use the cloth liner to grab the bread and tear the bread. Unclothed fingers should not touch the bread.

                  1. re: Alan408
                    lagatta May 8, 2007 03:11 PM

                    That would be considered VERY rude in many cultures I know.

                    1. re: lagatta
                      Alan408 May 8, 2007 10:00 PM

                      Please explain why using the cloth liner/napkin to grab the bread would be very rude and which cultures consider it rude.

                3. QueenB May 8, 2007 04:59 PM

                  I have no manners.
                  I take my bread/roll and spread the whole thing with butter. Then break it into small pieces as I eat it.

                  1. orangewasabi May 8, 2007 05:41 PM

                    Most high end restaurants I have been to bring bread around in a large communal basket and the waiter serves each person with tongs. So no visible bread touching goes on. That said, most times when there is a table-communal basket of bread, people are good about only touching what they take.

                    Mostly, I try to avoid the bread but when I indulge, I take one piece and some butter. Then tear off bite sized piece of bread and butter it either with the knife. Sometimes I pour salt over the butter on my bread plate then, I just tear of a bite sized piece of bread and drag the bread-bit thru the salt and butter and pop in my mouth.

                    Butter should never ever be applied to more than one bite's worth of bread at a time

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: orangewasabi
                      QueenB May 9, 2007 08:30 AM

                      "Butter should never ever be applied to more than one bite's worth of bread at a time"

                      What's the reasoning behind this?

                      1. re: QueenB
                        orangewasabi May 9, 2007 08:38 AM

                        not a freakin' clue . . . just what etiquette says.

                        actually, now that I think about it, it's along the same lines of not cutting all your meat before you eat. You should only prepare the next bite/mouthful at a time, whatever the food stuff.

                        1. re: orangewasabi
                          QueenB May 9, 2007 09:22 AM

                          It would be interesting to research and see where that rule comes from. I may have to do that with some free time. Now, I admit to buttering my whole roll or piece of bread, but I don't cut up all my meat at once. I guess I follow some etiquette.

                        2. re: QueenB
                          MakingSense May 10, 2007 10:57 PM

                          Because you are only supposed to put one bite in your mouth at a time. It's a no-no to pick up any hunk of food (other than stuff like sandwiches, fried chicken, ribs or picnic food - but that's another story) at a nice dinner table and gnaw off a chunk.
                          If you butter the entire piece of bread or roll, when you tear off small pieces to put into your mouth, you'll get the butter all over your fingers. Same if you dip the entire piece in olive oil at once. Messy. It's not an open-faced sandwich.

                          1. re: MakingSense
                            QueenB May 11, 2007 07:31 AM

                            Not true at all. I have no problems buttering an entire roll, then pulling small pieces off without getting butter on my fingers.
                            Now if we're going to change direction and talk about dipping in olive oil, I wouldn't dip all at once. That would be ridiculous.
                            I understand putting only one bite in your mouth at a time. I just don't understand buttering only one bite at a time.
                            What's the problem...are they going to throw me out of the nice restaurant if I butter my entire roll at once? Quelle horreur!

                            1. re: QueenB
                              MakingSense May 11, 2007 08:46 AM

                              You are a very tidy Queen. More tidy than most perhaps. I just gave you the reasoning.
                              The whole point of this stuff is knowing the right way. If you're eating with your family and friends, who cares? Even if you made the sort of major mess that we've all seen people make in restaurants, they aren't going to kick you out.

                              The problem comes in those rare occasions when the job interview involves a meal or the future in-laws are watching your every move. So maybe you can say "I don't want to work for a company where that matters" or "I don't want to be part of a family that cares about crap like that." Maybe you're a politician shown on YouTube popping hunks of roll into your mouth (recent film of Bush), everybody is laughing that you look like a pig, it feeds into other images, and you lose the race.
                              None of those situations might ever apply to you or the others who prefer not to follow the etiquette guidelines so it doesn't matter. But it's just as easy to form good habits as bad ones, then no one ever thinks you just don't know the difference.

                      2. ipsedixit May 8, 2007 09:56 PM

                        I don't eat butter with bread.

                        Is that rude?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ipsedixit
                          boltnut55 May 8, 2007 11:59 PM

                          I don't either! I take my bread from the basket (and don't understand why it's not always cut... I love my friends, but I doubt some washed their hands recently!), put it on my plate. If I were to butter, I'd butter the whole thing (or most of it) and then tear off to eat it.

                          However, I don't butter, so I just tear off into pieces and put it in my mouth. Actually, I do play with my bread... I tear off the middle and either eat that or the crust first, and so does my daughter... I think I'm going to have to re-read this to find out what the right thing to do is and to teach her. I do actually need to know in case of an interview lunch... but even at those places with bosses or potential bosses, I've seen scary things too, so I'm not too worried.

                        2. Kajikit May 10, 2007 04:16 PM

                          You don't paw at the basket... take the piece of bread that appeals to you and put it on your plate butter it before you bite into it, and then cut it into whatever sized pieces you prefer. I think buttering a piece at a time is silly. I often don't butter the bread at all though, because I don't really like butter. If it's nice enough bread it doesn't NEED it.

                          Show Hidden Posts