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Bread or No Bread @ a Restaurant?

How do we all feel about bread not being served before a meal?

Does it vary depending on the type of the establishment?

Do you think it is okay to have it available upon request only?

I enjoy a bit of bread before my meal, but often if I'm not careful it can ruin my meal as I'm too full & then I miss out on dessert too! I have been known to look over the dessert menu @ the beginning of my meal too...

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  1. I believe a starter should be a part of the experience, but in a controlled amount. In formal dining from centuries ago meals were 12 courses long. I'm not saying we should go back to THAT amount, but I feel a meal is more enjoyable when it is spread out, with lots of complimentary tastes to the main course. So maybe a small basket with like...2 slices of bread per person at a nice Italian/French/Mediterranean meal? Spanish/Mexican styles should have something complimentary (other than chips and salsa), Asian could serve edamonde, or soups...? Depending on the origin....

    Gets complicated, but it starts the appetite.

    1. I love bread at restaurants if the bread and butter/oil are good quality. Bonus points for warm bread. I've been to establishments where the bread is "warm at home" dinner rolls where they didn't warm it and in those cases I'd rather skip it. It's like eating hot dog buns.

      The bread is a(nother) reflection of the restaurant. If they cut corners and use cheap bread and margarine, i wonder what else they're cutting corners on.

      1. Warm bread + soft butter = good start.

        I usually limit myself to two pieces so my meal doesn't suffer.

        1 Reply
        1. re: brekkie_fan

          Absolutely, dbug31. I expect bread and I don't expect to be charged for it.

          If they're not on a separate menu, I always look at the desserts first also.

        2. I don't much care either way except to say if there is going to be bread, make it very good bread.

          1. Having worked in restaurants for many years where bread was brought automatically, I prefer bread on request (or have the server ask "would you like bread?". It always killed me to see so much untouched bread go into the garbage. What a waste!

            9 Replies
            1. re: veeva

              That makes good sense, veeva. As long as it's included in the price of the meal.

              1. re: dolores

                I have never been to a restaurant where they charge for bread -- and yes, I prefer that they ask, too. Why waste good food?

                1. re: Kbee

                  I didn't know I had either. I was in a Vermont restaurant with a group last year and they found out that (or so they thought) when the bill came that the additional baskets of bread were not free.

                  Thanks to threads on this I called the place and it seems there is a charge for 'all' of their bread.

                  Forewarned is now forearmed.

                  1. re: dolores

                    Pearl Oyster Bar charges for bread...

              2. re: veeva

                I agree with dolores -- waitstaff asks, but it's included in the meal.

                Also -- one of my alltime peeves -- if a restaurant is serving bread with butter, the butter should be soft. None of this straight from the coldest frig and rock hard stuff!

                1. re: LNG212

                  Could not agree with you more about the butter, great point.

                  I love warm bread at restaurants, but understand that not everyone wants to fill up on bread. I really place a large portion of my judgement about restaurants based on the quality of bread. It really can be a saving grace for a bad meal. (ie cheesecake factory)

                2. re: veeva

                  I try to remember to catch them before they put it down and say 'no thanks!'.....I also hate the waste.

                  1. re: veeva

                    Since the no carb craze ended, GOOD bread is rarely left untouched.

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      Not in my experience. I worked somewhere with fabulous, hot bread and wonderful soft butter, and often it went straight into the trash. Heartbreaking.