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Horrid Restaurant Trend

New York restaurant trend of charging for bread absolutely stinks: Houston's best free bread rocks

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bread in basket and glass of water
In Texas where draught conditions are causing the price of beef to soar and in cities like Houston where the population is booming faster than the potable water supply can keep up, wasting water is ridiculous. But charging for bread, that’s different. Photo by Or Hiltch/Flickr
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So, this is happening. At least in New York.

According to this New York Times article, free bread and water are becoming a thing of the past at some New York City restaurants that serve tasting menus. Writer Pete Wells bemoans the fact that some places are serving bread as a course, and charging for it. He's also upset that waiters try to upsell water by asking if you want sparkling or still water instead of just bringing you a glass of tap water and keeping it refilled.

I’m with him on the bread, and I’ll get to that in a minute, but not the water.

In Texas and other western states where drought conditions are causing the price of beef to soar and in cities like Houston where the population is booming faster than the potable water supply can keep up, wasting water is ridiculous. How many times do you see full glasses of water going to waste on tables at restaurants that, when the patrons leave, will just get poured down the drain?

 Now I don’t bake and I rarely eat bread at home, but I love warm bread at restaurants. 

I would much prefer to have a waiter ask so that I can say thanks, no water. If you don’t want to buy bottled water than when they ask just say you would like tap water. How hard is that?

But charging for bread, that’s different. The only time I pay for bread is at Giacomo’s Cibo e Vino (where, by the way, water is served upon request) when I order Hawk’s garlic bread, a toasty piece of heaven with more garlic than one should ever eat on a date. It is delicious.

But I do like to see free bread at most restaurants. I get that places don’t want you to fill up on free stuff and then order less food. But in Houston, at least, most restaurants are still taking that risk. A recent meal at Smith & Wollensky bore this out.

Have you had the bread service there? I mean it is awesome. Those pull-apart Parker house rolls glazed with butter, rosemary and sea salt are to die for. I could make a meal of just those and water . . . er, I mean wine. But I restrained myself to just one roll (maybe it was one and a half, with extra butter) a nice bottle of Chardonnay and some filet medallions with frites.

 While pretzel rolls may be past their hype, the ones at The Palm are deliciously comforting. 

Now I don’t bake and I rarely eat bread at home, but I love warm bread and butter at restaurants and Houston is lucky to have bakeries like Slow Dough Bread Co. that provide all kinds of wonderful, fragrant breads to local eateries.

I love to sit down to a lovely steak dinner at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar at River Oaks where they bring you a swathed loaf of Rosemary sourdough bread and two kinds of spreads for it. Sadly, chef James Cole has left the steakhouse after 13 years. But on the upside, he’ll be opening a restaurant of his own in Galveston soon. Oh, and the restaurant has a new spring menu you might want to check out.

And while pretzel rolls may be past their hype, the ones at The Palm are deliciously comforting.

And, because I’m not a snob when it comes to eating bread, I have to tell you that Whataburger has a new jalapeno cheddar biscuit that is very good. But get it now, as it is a limited time item. You can get a breakfast sandwich with it, buy it by itself or get it with gravy, for a really decadent breakfast.

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