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The bread & butter presentation says so much.

I always say to my husband "they don't love us" when we are given an un-heated old loaf of bread and some cold pats of butter. Even without the butter it tells so much. They didn't even care enough for their customers to heat up the darn thing. Not to mention some kind of cute whipping up of the butter into an inviting concoction. I can tell in the first few minutes if its going to be a great meal or just a "tie on the feedbag" one.

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  1. I agree. I took my mother out for Mothers' Day to a local fancy-ish restaurant that coworkers and I visit occasionally for lunch. I told her all about the fabulous service, the excellent food, and the warm garlic butter they serve with the 3 delicious breads. Well, on Mothers' Day, we got 2 mini-muffins and 2 tiny rolls, with brick-hard butter pats. No warm garlic butter, no warm butter at all. I was disappointed.

    1. I agree. I think I am happily surprised when it's warmed up, and it says, "we care about you" when I feel the warmth of the bread. Always a great start to a meal.

      5 Replies
      1. re: boltnut55

        And warm but day-old bread is more edible than room-temp day-old bread!

        Agreed - fridge-hard butter is ridiculous - why bother putting it out? I can't spread it on my bread!

        1. re: laurendlewis

          restaurants can't always store butter at room temperature. Kitchens are hot places. If kept at room temperature and not used then the butter goes off.

          However, I am in agreement on the bread, warm is nice but fresh is best even cold fresh.

          1. re: smartie

            "best even cold fresh" ... absolutely!

            Amazing Americans' preference for warm bread.

            Probably b/c it comes more often than not from the fridge as opposed from being daily baked.

            No French restaurant would serve warm / hot bread, it's considered unhealthy.

            1. re: RicRios

              I was really just saying that warm bread is a way to disguise that it is not tip-top fresh.

              1. re: RicRios

                "No French restaurant would serve warm / hot bread, it's considered unhealthy."

                I prefer bread AND butter at room temperature, but curious as to the unhealthy comment for warm/hot bread being served.

                Edited to remove the question re: unhealthy, as I see you answered below (i.e., causing heartburn, which I can't ever recall having after eating warmed bread!)

        2. i'm not that impressed if it's warm, but I can tell you everything I need to know about the restaurant and the forthcoming meal by the bread and butter (or oil) that they serve.

          1. i'm not always a fan of warmed bread. unless it's gobbled immediately, it seems to get stale right there on the breadplate. some places warm it to cover up that it's less than fresh, or it is par-baked then recooked on site. room temp bread is the best indicator of freshness.

            i do agree about tempered butter. the shaped, carved molds are a bit retro for my taste, lol, and always make me chuckle a bit. i am a freak for quality butter or olive oil though.

            5 Replies
            1. re: hotoynoodle

              Why is warm bread considered unhealthy?

              1. re: Rick

                Eating freshly baked warm bread is usually associated with causing heartburn.

                My own experience corroborates...

                1. re: RicRios

                  The only tummy-ache I ever got from freshly-baked bread was from scarfing too much of it down. Yum!

                  Right up there with fine artisanal bread is the kind of down-homey restaurant that serves freshly-baked rolls. There was a place in Murfreesboro, TN, where the rolls were so popular that sometimes they ran out before the next batch was out of the oven, and a sort of hush would fall over the room, then bursts of applause when the waitresses came out with newly-filled baskets.

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    That anecdote reminds me of the time maybe 10 years ago I was in Dallas and went to a chain-ey looking BBQ joint (only one open on Sunday I could find.) It was cafeteria-style, but there were a couple of young teenaged girls who had a little station in the corner that pumped out fresh little loaves of white bread.
                    Every 10 minutes or so a batch would come out, they'd dump it into a basket, and while one set up the next batch the other would come around to the tables to offer "hot bread?" in a syrupy accent that melted my heart. Must've eaten 4 of 'em.
                    Periodically, I still daydream about that scene with the beautiful girl, her delightful accent, and the fresh hot bread (that I piled pretty good brisket onto as well...)

                    1. re: dude

                      that's Dickie's and it's still pretty good imho

            2. I dont even notice the bread and butter "presentation" when I go out to eat. I never waste my appetite on that "filler". I save my appetite for the food I have come for, not bread and butter.

              3 Replies
              1. re: swsidejim

                I agree - unless it is particularly great quality bread. (E.g. there is a restaurant in Atlanta known at which the kitchen makes all the breads daily - that is worth it!)

                1. re: swsidejim

                  I agree ...

                  Sometimes in an ethic restaurant pita and oil are served or naan and chutney and I do like that. Or a particular Italian place in LA that serves fresh bread and garlic oil.

                  But plain bread and butter? I don't even notice it.

                  1. re: swsidejim

                    I wise Chowhound once said "bread is the silent killer of a great meal," though it is very useful for sopping up soup and sauce.

                    Frankly, I don't give a damn about bread and butter presentation, and none of the great restaurants I frequent bother to warm up bread (their kitchen has farm more important work to do.)

                  2. I feel exactly the same way...When the bread and butter is impressive, you are probably in the RIGHT place!

                    1. Ack! Some nice restaurants bake their own great bread and serve it warm, some get their great fresh bread from the local artisan bakery and serve it room temperature and very fresh, and perhaps some do reheat the old bread to make it appear fresher.

                      But an embarrassing moment was when a relative exclaimed (within servers' hearing range) "GOOD restaurants serve their bread WARM" before returning the bread to a server to have it heated. The Bride & I just sank in our chairs...

                      1. I am a weakling when a restaurant keeps offering more delicious rolls as you finish them. So dangerous--not only calorie-wise, but it can sabotage my enjoyment of the rest of the meal. But sinfully fun! Yes, bread is an important component of the restaurant experience for me too.

                        1. jfood likes a good piece of bread or roll before the meal in a resto. if it's really good it does set the tone. for example at commander's palace a few weeks ago there was a memorable bread serving, both in technique and type. how often has jfood enjoyed some great sour dough or olive bread at a resto.

                          what jfood does not like is the butter presentation. the jfood list of bad bread/butter presentations:

                          1 - as others have mentioned, do NOT serve it hard as a rock
                          2 - do not serve the butter in the little packets is a bowl of iced water. if jfood is paying $20-35 for an entree, look at the little things mr resto-owner
                          3 - have the bread server look at the butter as well. if the bread is gone and the butter is gone please bring both, sorta go together if both have disappeared
                          4 - if butter not offered, but olive oil is the side, please make sure the bread plate can handle both.
                          5 - please make sure there is a butter knife at each setting at mid- and high-end restos
                          6 - jfood does not like sweet butter with bread, but likes salted. this is absolutely a matter of opinion and jfood is not asking for mind-reading resto-owners, but jfood likes that saltiness on the bread when eaten

                          has jfood had great meals with lousy bread, probably, has jfood had lousy meals with great bread, probably. just like any other course at the dinner, some win bigger than others. each are there to be enjoyed.