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No bread for you!

Recently I have noticed that getting any or more bread at some restaurants is becoming both difficult and/or expensive. Last weekend at aKitchen we were served a very small bread portion and when we asked for more bread the waiter said in disbelief "You want more bread?". At Nonna's friendly small neighborhood Italian no bread is served on the table. In recent review here of Talula's Market a CH noted the extremely small portions served and the some what negative reaction when they asked for additional bread. Ok, perhaps bread cost more or is it more about too much bread no apps ordered. But really seems some restaurants are losing a bit of civility, hospitality and tradition. I am quite sure there are other more effective way to control food costs and still provide some bread. Is the "no bread" or dwarf portions a trend?

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  1. Interesting. I would point out that Nonna's is a not a small neighborhood restaurant, it's a small restaurant in Center City owned by an establishes, successful restaurant group, and the other places you listed are part of large corporations/restaurant groups too. These are the kind of places that are usually the first to find cost cutting measures to maintain steady profit margins but usually they find something less noticeable to the customer than no bread.

    I wonder if Parc (same RG as Talula's) is skimping on their normally generous bread basket.

    Are bread costs up?

    5 Replies
    1. re: barryg

      They have been doing "bread on request" at the Half Moon in Kennett Square for years. It always sounded overly chintzy to me. What's next, charging for extra napkins? I know if they stop the bread basket at Parc I won't return. That's the best part of the meal there!

      1. re: bluehensfan

        I wonder if this started with the anti carbs craze that hit a few years ago. The backlash was so big that it drove some bakeries out of business.

        1. re: cwdonald

          So true cwdonald. My user name is in response to that stupid south beach diet and all. We used to have a krispy kreme in montgomeryville/north wales with hot donuts. And Peter Pan Bakery on broad in Lansdale I still miss you! I noticed no bread was offered at Seasonal Harvest when John and I went. /le sigh

      2. re: barryg

        What Nonna's is trying to be is a "red sauce” family-owned ristorantes of Italian immigrants, offers thoughtful interpretations of homestyle Italian-American dishes in the cozy 40-seat restaurant evocative of an Italian grandmother’s living room". It is for that reason that I would expect bread on the table.

        Bread on request, like that blue.

        As bg notes if the corporate cost cutting solution is no bread perhaps they should look elsewhere.

        1. re: Bacchus101

          Maybe we should BYOB (as in bring your own bread) and they will get the message?

      3. I have started to notice this too. I have even been to restaurants that offered no bread at all. And I have been to places where the portions of bread were very small. I wish I could remember names but I almost always go to small places, usually byob. Therefore, I don't associate it with chains. I do remember the wonderful Citrus in Chestnut Hill, where you had to pay a small price for bread. I didn't mind because I loved their gougeres.

        1. Have noticed that too. At Two Stones you don't get bread and as I recall, if you ask, you get a single forlorn slice on a plate. Had an omelet for lunch at Big Fish in Wilmington which came with no toast. They charged extra for the request. Hey! Bread is now a side dish. I really hope places with good bread don't go this route. Bistrot La Minette has wonderful bread and would hate to see it go. My guess is it's a cost cutting measure because so much gets thrown out.

          1. Recently I have noticed that getting any or more bread at some restaurants is becoming both difficult and/or expensive. Last weekend at aKitchen we were served a very small bread portion and when we asked for more bread the waiter said in disbelief "You want more bread?". At Nonna's friendly small neighborhood Italian no bread is served on the table. In recent review here of Talula's Market a CH noted the extremely small portions served and the some what negative reaction when they asked for additional bread. Ok, perhaps bread cost more or is it more about too much bread no apps ordered. But really seems some restaurants are losing a bit of civility, hospitality and tradition. I am quite sure there are other more effective way to control food costs and still provide some bread. Is the "no bread" or dwarf portions a trend?

            Yes, I too have noticed the same development. I guess, to most people bread is not a big issue, but I have a hard time eating in a European restaurant that does not have great bread and is stingy with the bread. Generally I will accept the bad attitude and ask for more bread.

            Concerning bread, I have occasionally been a BYO. One restaurant, Mazza in Ambler, asked that I not eat my baguette (from Alice in North Wales – great bread!). It so happens that, in my opinion, their food is great but their soft crusted bread is not my style. I will not go back to Mazza even though it is my favorite restaurant in Ambler. Alternatively, I often went to a Moroccan restaurant and brought my own bread and was welcomed with a smile because the owner knew that their bread (pita) was not really Moroccan style.

            On the other hand, a good loaf of bread is not cheap and probably costs $2.50 to $3.00. If four people share a loaf the food cost would be seventy five cents a person. Based upon a 4X food cost it will increase the price of the meal by $3.00 per person. I find that shocking but probably accurate.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Unkle Al

              UA ,an Alice baguette is worth being chastised. Probably you have provided Mazza with their first byo bread experience. I would hesitate returning also. If bread is a cost factor they should be please at the savings you offer them as they are not selling it anyway. Guess it is not a ringing endorsement if people carry in their own bread.

              Interesting cost analysis on bread. Thinking a bit more about the bread issue I recall many times being asked "would you like some bread" or similar which is not quite Bread on Request but it does limit to some degree waste.

            2. I think as bread gets better, places will start charging for it, and that's totally reasonable. Talula's Daily includes a bread course, and we have asked for more and had it delivered happily.

              1. Oy vey iz mir... no soup for me in NY...., no bread for me in Phillly...., I may be condemned to lose weight!

                3 Replies
                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    With no help from the cheeses you brought me from France. I'm still in cheese heaven, thanks again. I wish I had the good bread to go with them. Most of the bread in Florida would cause a prison riot.

                1. l will give you the other view. As l spend half the year in Europe l get really great bread there, thus here l only eat any bread l deem as outstanding. There are excellent restaurant bakeries here.
                  The three l really like are Fork, Vetri, and Modo Mio, none of which ration it at all.
                  The wonderful baker at Parc/Dandelion has moved on and their bread now IMHO can be called meh and that may be upgrading it.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                    do you know where they are baking now?

                    1. re: barryg

                      Was the same baker at both. l had been told he went to Fork, but when l checked at Fork l was told their baker came from Sullivan St in Manhattan. Thus l am at a loss.
                      Heard a rumor he went to the great baguette place in Manyyunk and thus the baguettes are great, but no documentation on that.

                    2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                      Wow...the bread at Parc used to be better than the rest of the food. That's really bad news. When did that happen?

                      1. re: bluehensfan

                        Last time l went was 6 months or so, thus maybe a good baker there now. Hesitant to try though.

                        1. re: Delucacheesemonger

                          I've been to Parc 3 times. First time - 4-5 years ago? not long after it opened in any case - bread was great. 2nd time was almost as long ago, and I wasn't super impressed with the bread. Then I went a few months ago, and the baguette was a good to very good baguette. By Paris standards, hardly a destination baguette, but a perfectly competent neighborhood bakery baguette. There was another kind of bread there too, which seemed good, but didn't seem to fit w/ the meal.
                          To get back to the original point, I don't mind asking for bread. I'm not shy about it. I love bread. But there are colliding trends of less bread/less attention to bread, and the small plates trend, where I find that bread is especially important because every small plate has so much flavor that I need some sort of backdrop.

                      2. re: Delucacheesemonger

                        Parc had often been frequented at lunch in sidewalk table weather and Dandelion a dinner location in Philadelphia. I had quite enjoyed the breads not knowing it was from the hand of the same baker. I will certainly lament the loss of what I had thought were quite nice breads.