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Is this becoming a new normal?

Had a lovely Christmas dinner at Wolfgang's Steakhouse last night. We each started with a salad. When we were finished, the busser came and asked if he could clear the plates, and we said yes.

He then proceeded to also take away the bread basket and butter, and clear our table of bread crumbs, before our main dish arrived.

My first instinct was to ask him to leave the bread, but when I considered the amount of food we ordered, I thought better of it--why fill up on more bread when we have a delicious Porterhouse on the way?

Well, there was so much juice left on the platter, I had to ask for bread a short time later to soak up the juices.

Normally I would assume the busser was new and didn't know to leave the bread until after we finished the main course. However, this is the second time this has happened to me in a month. Coincidence or the new normal?

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  1. Yes same thing happen to me at Melisse. But if you ask they will keep refilling the basket.

    1 Reply
    1. re: wienermobile

      Interesting. I've never had that experience at Melisse (my favorite L.A. restaurant), but it's been about a year since I've been there.

    2. If they tried to grab the bread from my wife they'd be drawing back a stump in place of their hand.

      1. It's proper for the bread to be removed from the table, but there should be no issue asking for additional bread to accompany the meal if it is necessary.

        1 Reply
        1. re: redips

          yup. but feel free to ask to have it left.

        2. Hmmm. In all the "better" restaurants we go to it is SOP to remove the bread basket prior to the meal. The bread is usually meant to be short term filler/nibble and not a condiment or side to the entree. However I see no issue if someone asked for more or to leave it.

          The only place I can think of that leaves the bread, and constantly refills the basket for that matter, is a small, casual red sauce Italian place. Even with all the pasts most people use the bread to soak up their wonderful sauces.

          3 Replies
          1. re: foodieX2

            "Bread is meant to be a nibble and not a side to the entree"---really? People have been using bread to sop up meat juices for centuries. That is officious nonsense.

            1. re: Querencia

              very little about "fine dining" service isn't "officious nonsense"

          2. This has never happened to me. I would consider it Very Strange.

            1. More often than not, the bread is left if there's bread leftover in there.

              1. I don't think it was anything more than trying to free up as much room for proper presentation and serving of the entree. Steakhouses serve on large dishes/platters and all the accompanying sides all take up room, so I'm assuming it was to accommodate the entree's. No harm just ask for more when you want it !!

                1 Reply
                  1. Actually, this is not at all uncommon. It seems as if in Europe, it's pretty standard. Recently in France, it seemed to happen at most of the more upscale restaurants we went to. And in Barcelona…about 3 years ago we had a truly unusual experience at an extremely upscale restaurant! We had placed our order, and our aperitifs were served and bread and butter placed on the table. When we finished our drinks, the glasses were cleared away and the server asked if he could remove the bread. We said "no" because we were still enjoying it. All of a sudden, it was obvious that we had created a "stir"! The server was talking to the maitre d', obviously about us, and then to someone in the kitchen. Our service ceased completely, and no food was served. We didn't quite understand, and then about 10 minutes later the maitre d' approached our table asking if we had finished with the bread. It was obvious that they did not plan to serve us anything additional until we had finished our "bread course". We told the maitre d' that we would like the bread to remain on the table, but we were ready to proceed with the meal. He obviously thought that this was very strange and unusual, but our service resumed immediately and everything was wonderful. Who knew??

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: josephnl

                      how nice that they didn't want to rush you through your meal. what a hoot. those darn americans, first they want water with ice during the meal and now they want bread. what will they ask for next, salads before the entree??

                      1. re: KaimukiMan

                        Especially weird when in France I truly wanted a bit of bread to soak up the delicious sauce remaining on my almost empty entree plate...and I felt very uncomfortable asking them to bring the bread back...and didn't!

                    2. Our BIL took us to a nice Italian place Christmas Eve. They took the (empty) bread basket and side plates away before they brought the main course out, but left my plate which still had some bread on it. I was a little surprised by it too... but when I stop to think about it, usually we've finished with the bread and yes they take the empty plate/basket/bread board away unless they ask if we'd like more.

                      1. Yes, this has happened to me many times over the years. I find it irritating. I don't care how it "should" be done; taking away the bread so quickly is annoying.

                        1. Not new normal. Old normal. My experience is in places that emphasize service, bread baskets, plates and butter are cleared when the apps are finished. Bread is not served with the main. Sure you can ask for it if you want. In places that are not as formal, the bread basket will be left but those are the same places that typically don't change silverware with courses either.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: Bkeats

                            Perhaps this is a regional thing. Surely, I know you are correct that it's pretty standard in some countries in Europe, but in southern CA where we live, bread is almost always left on the table, except at very formal restaurants. Curious Bkeats…what part of the US (or elsewhere) is where you consider this the "old normal"?

                            1. re: josephnl

                              This has been happening to us for years at nicer restaurants in Minnesota.

                              1. re: josephnl

                                Northeastern US. Again, this is in places that have an emphasis on service. Bread at the beginning. Not at all formal places, but places where the FOH is more professional. For example, as I mentioned upthread when they clear the apps and bread, old utensils are also cleared and a new place setting comes that is appropriate for your main course. Nice places, but not necessarily fancy. Just because a place is casual doesn't mean it can't have attentive professional service. On the other hand, at OG you can get the never ending bread sticks.

                                ETA: I did go to a french bistro two weeks ago and ordered the moules frites. When the server brought it, he also had an basket of bread which he said was necessary for the dish. So obviously there are exceptions but a well trained staff knows how to roll with it. Contrast to the example in the other ongoing thread where the waitress removed unwanted bacon from a patron's plate by grabbing it with her hands. Trained service professional versus someone waiting tables.

                                1. re: Bkeats

                                  I guess it really isn't very different here in southern CA. Most nicer restaurants will ask if you'd like bread cleared away after the app. I do hear the never-ending bread sticks at OG are pretty good. I've not tasted them. Should I?

                                  1. re: josephnl

                                    I last had them MANY years ago - they are very puffy, very white, and not really browned at all - sort of like garlicky marshmallows.

                                    1. re: josephnl

                                      Funny, I've been eating at fine dining restaurants in Los Angeles for 40 years, and have not come across this. At many fine dining restaurants they do not leave a bread basket on the table, rather someone comes with a tray and offers bread for your bread plate. True, at those establishments they usually only offer bread shortly after being seated, but they don't take the bread plates away and brush away the crumbs until after the main course is finished and we're ready for dessert.

                              2. Thinking back, I have most often been asked "Would you like to keep the bread?" or "Can I take the bread?", something on that order. But if the bread was being cleared with the rest, I would have no problem saying, "Please leave the bread." or even "Could you please bring more bread?"

                                1. I've seen most of the variations recorded here and remember rolls being passed at the Old Ritz in Boston during the meal (melba toast beforehand).Locke-Ober would leave its wonderful assortment of breads if you wished. But here in New Orleans the French bread is brought throughout the meal. Some place have a basket but most wrap it in a napkin and put it on the tablecloth. Other leave it on a plate, unwrapped. Don't ask for a bread plate: declasse and very "outsider-ish"