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What is the most unusual food instead of bread served at a restaurant?

Recently I went to an establishment (the West Bank Cafe, NYC) that I really liked--and I loved the olives and crisp bread with hummus served instead of traditional white bread and butter before the meal.

As a kid, I adored the Ground Round--and the popcorn on the table, which complimented the silent films that ran on the screens around the room.

One seafood place I used to eat at served oyster crackers, and cocktail and tartar sauce (Evelyn's), as well as corn muffins, and another called Bahr's served buttermilk biscuits & coleslaw. Port wine cheese and pumpernickle bread and breadsticks at another place called Squire's Pub I ate as a kid, as it was quite an 'old style' restaurant that served relish trays with olives and cottage cheese.

I also recall a deli called Richard's that served pickles, elbow mac salad, coleslaw--and

Mints at the end were always a nice touch, and as a kid I also remember getting a chocolate turkey lollypop for free at the end of a meal at Squire's Pub, my favorite part of the night ;)

Any other interesting freebies people have gotten or interesting bread basket substitutes?

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  1. local chinese place that is unfortunately no longer around (unfortunately it seems that most floridians prefer buffet chinese to the real thing) used to serve a small bowl of sweet and hot pickled vegetables, they were a wonderful starter to a great meal.

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    1. re: willdupre

      Korean places usually serves an array of pickled vegetables, kim chee, preserved turnips, marinated bean sprout, tofu etc.

    2. This isn't unusual, but the seasoned pita bread with olive spread is practically a meal in itself at the local greek place.

      1. When we ate at Aquaknox, they had smoked salmon "pate" and grissinis

        1. When we moved to New Hampshire back in the 90s, restaurants routinely served commercially packaged crackers with cottage cheese. Now we get amuse-bouches.

          1. Not too sure if overseas references apply here, but:

            La Régalade (Paris, 14e, area Montparnasse) will put in your table a full terrine of excellent paté de campagne the moment you sit down.

            http://www.foodtourist.com/ftguide/Co...