Bread and Water…What to Do?

Aug 08


Bread and water….not speaking about a cold dark cell with no window ; rusty shackles hanging from cracked old stone walls . The judge’s sentence for asking for “Bread and Water” with your meal at your favorite meal spot! No , we are talking about a restaurant subject the public usually is not privy to as being very important ; but it has been at the forefront of issues important for many years in the hospitality world.

Glasses break and that can get expensive. Ice costs money….isn’t it more earth sensitive to only serve water when a diner asks for it? This issue was a major subject for me in the 70’S ,  when there was a mini-drought in Portland. Many places were not offering H2O as customers were seated. Secretly, many owners were glad to be able to save the money while being assured the customers didn’t mind the small inconvenience. I always felt badly. I was trained that the customer was there to be served and to leave with the best of experiences….hopefully they will tell others ; and return again and again .

There seems to be a different attitude these days. A misplaced entitlement is often reigning over the restaurant experience ; not everywhere , but it is definitely out there and sometimes blatant. BREAD? A recent article from Laura Bailey of  the Tampa Bay Times tells of the trend today in great detail of the disappearing bread basket. Many no longer even offer bread! OK..I understand, it’s the old cost issue again. Many say “we had to cut costs because of the recession “. Quite a few are now offering bread assortment baskets for a charge. I still understand. What I don’t understand is the refusal to have bread at all. Recently, a friend of mind had lunch in the Oregon wine country at a new trendy spot with an acclaimed chef  and asked for some bread to accompany her meal. “We don’t serve bread at lunch”, was the response . She was told there was none to be had in the whole restaurant. When she told me the story, I was dumbfounded. How does this translate to “serving one’s customer”? If you don’t bring Bread and Water to the table…OK! But you had better damn be swift about it when requested…or shame on you . Sell the bread..if it’s worth buying-alright. The tradition of good food and service is taking a beating , it seems. When the story to be told is more about the chef and his/her prowess; the ultra expensive decor ; the trendy and sleek bar concoctions done by award winning mixologists ; a sommelier who’s accolades tend to overshadow a premier wine cellar….then something really is wrong in Shangri La , Mabel!

…and that is my “A Point of The Knife ” to consider.

REMEMBER! “It takes many more grains of rice to fill your bowl , if you have forgotten to cook with care and honor .”


One comment

  1. Julia /

    Thank you! Of all the people I know, you understand this better than anyone. Can I please just have some service here? I’m hungry…

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