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Bread upon request

I am noticing that a lot of restaurants in the SF Bay area are moving to a bread upon request policy and some even a water on request policy. I realize the economy may have made restaurants try to reduce the bread expense, but I am seeing it at high end restaurants and more casual places.

I can understand if a place doesn't want to drop a plate of bread automatically, but I think the nicer places should offer bread without having to be asked. But this no bread unless you ask at a place charging $75 and up for a tasting menu is a bit much.

Are places in other parts of the country adopting a similar policy?

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  1. I don't have a problem with such a policy at all. So many people hardly eat bread, so why waste it?

    however, the latest trend here is the PNW at upscale foodie places is to charge separately for the bread, so just having to ask seem like a bonus.

    1. Could this be a result of the gluten-free movement? Maybe places would hate to cause someone to have a "reaction."

      4 Replies
      1. re: escondido123

        It saddens me to think that it is becoming a movement, especially since I have Celiac Disease and my life depends on avoiding gluten at all costs. So, I definitely do not have a problem with that policy!

        1. re: escondido123

          I think "movement" is a bit of a strong word. It's as if you're implying there's some sort of Anti-wheat Guerilla Insurgency.

          I understand why a restaurant may not want to feel like they're wasting all of that bread. Why not do it as a bread service thing? Have a server walking around the dining room with a basket and tongs. "Would you like to have rosemary focaccia, walnut date bread, or a sourdough boule." No big deal, right? Saves on expenses by not wasting a ton of bread on each table, and it still makes it seem Nice that there's bread for those who want it.

          Celiac disease is a very real thing, and no joke. But I feel like the gluten-free faddishness diet is ridiculous.

          1. re: egit

            I stand corrected. There is a "Gluten-Free Living" national magazine that informs me it is a "lifestyle." Celiac is a very real and difficult disease, and I have total sympathy for those people who I'm sure would rather not be having to do without gluten, while other dieters trivialize the condition.

            1. re: escondido123

              Thanks for understanding! Gluten is hidden in so many non-obvious products. Not easy when one is so passionate about food and eating! However, it now it has become a natural part of my everyday life. I really feel for those who have both Celiac as well as intolerance to things such as lactose, soy and so on. As I do not have abdominal symptoms eating gluten it is doubly difficult because I have no way of knowing whether I have been cross contaminated or not which is extremely dangerous. It really angers me that some go on a gluten free "lite" diet when it suits them! But I truly do not want to complain any more. I have it sooooo much better than many folks out there! :-) Oh, as a positive aside - at one good restaurant we were served GF rice cakes with our steak tartare. Very much appreciated and nice to have that option!

              Celiac or not, I think it would be wise offer a choice of bread(s).

        2. I haven't noticed it in Vancouver but that might be because of the types of restaurants I frequent ("ethnic" for want of a better word) where the free bread thing is not relevant. I did notice it at Frances in your hometown last time we were there. I think it would be nicest to be offered bread, whether at a charge (clearly stated) or no, so that the diner could decide. It might well save the establishments $ and I imagine would save on wasted bread.

          1. I do not have an issue with this at all. Very seldom do I eat bread (not allergies just prefer) and so bread brought without asking to my table, at *any* price point place is WASTED food.

            If my server asked me "Can I bring you a bread plate(basket et al)" I can decline or not. But bread or anything else just brought (like wow the butter or EVOO) is wasted. Not good karma.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Quine

              I don't consume a lot of bread but do like to have a slice as a palate cleanser between courses which is good if you are having wine. I would rather them offer bread on a per slice basis. Often when I ask for bread they drop off 4 or 5 slices when all I really want is one slice.

              The reason for the post isn't really to discuss the merits of the policy just curious as to whether it is prevalent in other parts of the country.

              1. re: Scott M

                The reason for the post isn't really to discuss the merits of the policy just curious as to whether it is prevalent in other parts of the country.
                ~~~~~~~~~~
                here on Chowhound? yeah, good luck with that ;) though in all fairness, you did offer your own opinion about the practice/policy, so you should expect others to weigh in with theirs.

                and yes, it's happening at places all over the country.

            2. Seen it in New England too. It's dismaying. When dining with friends who have children, esp. fussy, hungry children, I miss the pacifying effect of the bread basket (on them, and me!)

              It's probably a cost thing, and an anti-carb thing. There was an excellent restaurant in my neighborhood that would put an ample basket of savory AND sweet breads on the table for diners after they were seated. It was lovely.

              I agree with those who say that the server should ask if it's wanted....

              The quality of the bread offerings at restaurants is something for another post.