The Rebirth of the Restaurant Breadbasket

by Kelly Senyei, Epicurious

Now that we're in the second month of the year, food predictions for what will be hot or not in 2013 are slowly being vetted. We predicted a declining interest in tasting menus, a sentiment that's proven true in recent weeks, and many correctly anticipated an increased focus on the first taste diners have at restaurants: the bread.

While cost-saving measures have forced some restaurants to cease serving complimentary carbs, the breadbasket has undoubtedly found new fame on the dinner table. This week, the Wall Street Journal highlighted several restaurants adding oomph to their bread portfolios, including U.S. restaurant chain LongHorn Steakhouse. They also reported that New York City restaurant Commerce spends about $116,000 a year on their famed breadbasket (labor included). I speak from experience when I say that every penny of that $116,000 is well-spent, from the salted pretzels to the poppy seed rolls to the pain d'epi -- all baked fresh and served hot, ready for a slathering of butter.

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Why the added attention to a freebie? Some argue you can judge the quality of a restaurant based on its breadbasket. If a restaurat is willing to invest time and effort into something that's generally given gratis, the thought is they'll dedicate just as much (if not more) time and effort to a plate of food a diner pays to enjoy. That first bite can also set the tone for what's to come next, impacting a diner's overall experience, be it at a high-end eatery or a casual restaurant chain.

Do you pay particular attention to a restaurant's breadbasket?

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