A disconcerting trend has begun to pop up of late. Perhaps it’s only here in the confines of the locavoracious organic farm-to-table obsessed Portland in this not so hot economy, but many restaurants have begun to charge for bread. Sure, it’s only a few dollars. Sure, they try to ease the pain of ordering your bread by including a small ramekin of extremely well described olive oil, or a small pat of some very special kind of butter, but let’s not fool ourselves. It’s not that special; at least not usually. What’s worse, is that at first I saw it only with really good bread, but now I’m beginning to see it occur when the bread is mediocre or worse.
I’ve been taking this in stride, and with every grain of salt that has been necessary to make it palatable, but this week it was all taken too far when @deecreature and I were at a restaurant that simply did not serve bread. At all. (Note: They were not gluten free, and served an amuse bouche on crostini… so clearly it’s not something about the bread itself).
Therefore I present to the world the concept of The Slicing Fee (time of birth 7:19pm PST, 05/06/2011). An analog and long lost prodigal brother of The Corking Fee, it is a small fee paid to a restaurant when a diner (or group of diners) bring their own bread into the establishment for their own consumption in exchange for the staff of that establishment slicing and serving that bread to the diners. Done and done.
If you’re going to charge me a little bit for good bread and good oil/butter, that’s fine. But if you’re going to charge me anything more than a little for anything less than excellent bread, then you had damned well better give me the option to show up with something… well… something good dammit. Don’t make me pay you for shitty bread. Essentially, that’s what I’m saying.
It’s a tough climate for restaurants. I get it. Daily bread delivery of quality bread represents a significant overhead. God forbid you put bread pudding on the desert menu to deal with it, but I’ll concede the point that a lot of bread often gets wasted. It reminds of a new policy in Hawaii that makes all restaurants default to not serving water unless the patron specifically requests it. It makes sense – water is a precious resource in the islands, and putting it on every table wastes a ton of it. But if you don’t want to manage the logistics of keeping me leavened, then you should be willing and ready to help me bread myself.
And maybe everyone’s not a freak for bread like myself and several of my friends and family, but that’s just all the more reason to outsource the responsibility to us if you’re going to make us pay for it anyway!
So there it is. Laid out. I’m gonna say $3, you warm it up once for us, and then put it on the table. We tip you graciously. All are happy. Come on team, let’s make this happen!