Trend of the Week

Restaurants Charging for Bread

A growing number of eateries want your dough for theirs

By Kathryn Robinson August 19, 2009

When airlines began charging for meals, we should’ve realized the free lunch as we’d known it was gone for good.

The latest casualty? Gratis bread on restaurant tables.

Plenty of upmarket joints around here—Le Gourmand, Canlis long been in the business of individually delivered rolls. Alright, alright—calls unfortunate attention to my carbo-hoovering habit, yes, but it also reduces waste and keeps costs down for the restaurant. Reasonable.

But the trend now goes further. Anchovies & Olives sets a $2 tab on its Columbia City focaccia bread, served with arbequina olives and great oil. Ditto Boat Street Cafe (only it’s not focaccia, and the olives are Nicoise). At Joule, diners pay $3 for a La Brea Bakery baguette, sliced and warm, with a pot of diner’s choice of cultured, seaweed, or bacon butter.

Sure—these plates include oils and butters, and feature some of the best breads available in these parts. But seeing bread on the menu can still feel nickle-and-dimey—especially when high-end joints like Cafe Juanita still manage to set out a bread basket of variety and quality, without charging a dime.

Or…do they? Because the fact is, restaurants charge for bread whether they make the charge explicit or not. Many would argue for taking the “bread overhead” off the overall cost of dinner, transferring the cost of the bread to the diners who actually want it enough to pay for it.

What do you think, diners? Sick of the regressive bread tax…or hate seeing bread charges on menus?

’Cause this particular diner thinks this trend is here to stay.

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