Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Importance of Bread and Butter

When I was a little girl (and a picky eater) my favorite part about dining out was the bread and butter.  That may seem silly to you, but think about it... for a non-carbaphobe, the anticipation of the bread basket at a restaurant when you are starving is akin to finding true love.  Over the years, I have not only found sustenance, but general amusement in the bread and butter offerings of various restaurants.  Some places stick with the classic bread and butter, while some offer olive oil in lieu of butter, and in some cases, infused olive oil, or even flavored butters.  Other restaurants might offer an olive tapenade, feta cheese spread, pesto spread, and so on as alternatives to butter or olive oil as a bread topper.  I've also gotten marinated olives along with my bread on occasion.  At Mexican restaurants, free just-fried tortilla chips and house-made salsa are customary (or at least they should be!).  Some restaurants offer special spreads for purchase along with your bread, which are unique and flavorful, but at a price.  Another time, I was offered a basket of pretzels and vegetables with dip instead of bread.  And yet there are so many times when bread and butter or some version of this staple is never offered at a restaurant: Asian restaurants don't seem to partake in this tradition and neither do many fine dining establishments.

Even the variety of breads can be exciting, from a traditional crusty French baguette, to a selection of breads per table (sliced, rolls, white, whole wheat, fruited, olive-laden, crackers, bread sticks, there are so many kinds).  My one major criticism is when restaurants serve ice cold butter.  What the Hell am I supposed to do with that?  It tears up the bread (which is also usually cold in such places) when I try to spread it.  Ice cold butter is only good for one thing if you ask me: making pie crusts, scones and biscuits.  That's it.  With that one exception, I've appreciated every unique "bread and butter" offering, and really enjoy a restaurant's attention to detail when considering that bread and butter although free in theory (not really, you are technically paying for it with the price of your meal) can and does reflect the restaurant as well and should not be an afterthought.  Here are some of my favorite (or most unique) bread and butter experiences, which I just happened to have photographed (how convenient, haha).

Union Square Cafe - Selection of Breads and Crackers, Butter, Roman-Style Marinated Olives, and an Olive Pit Bowl 

Vermont Restaurant - Foccacia, Walnut Raisin, and Ciabatta Breads with Pesto Spread

Oleana - French Baguette and Za'atar Focaccia with Whipped Feta with Sweet and Hot Peppers (Bread was Free, Pret a Manger for Purchase for $5, but Worth it!)

Masa - Blue and Yellow Cornbreads with Three Spreads (Apricot, Molasses Butter, and Cranberry) at Brunch

Vert (Former Location at Hollywood & Highland in Los Angeles)- Selection of Breads, Crackers, and Breadsticks with Olive Oil and Goat Cheese Accompaniment 

The Capital Grille - Crackers and Warm Rolls with Butter Topped with Flaked Sea Salt

The Duck and Bunny -  Fresh Ricotta with Olive Oil Drizzle Served with Olga's Crusty Pane Francese and Olive Tapenade (For Purchase for $6 and Worth Every Penny!)

Grub - Pretzels, Veggies, and Dip 


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...