A pale, buttery colored, almost white, cylindrical mass glared at us through a trendy linen-lined metal basket. It sat centered on the table, surrounded by a clutter of wine and water glasses. The four of us looked at each other, puzzled, wondering who would have the nerve to approach it first.

After we finished a glass of mediocre, overpriced wine, we went for it.

“Is that vinegar I smell?”
“What’s with the crust?”
“Nope, can’t do it.”

Unfortunately, this is a scene that takes place in restaurants across the country. The server comes out, introduces themselves and plops down the table bread. More often than not, the stuff is suspiciously uniform, arrives frozen from a thousand miles away, and is baked “fresh” by the dishwasher. The diners are thoroughly, but rightfully, unimpressed within minutes of being seated at new restaurant.

In a world, in a town where chefs are respected more than ever, and pushing the culinary envelope is a good thing it’s amazing that something as important as the first taste of a restaurant can be so blatantly neglected.

If you ever find yourself in such a situation, first send back the funky generic bread. Second, make it known that you want fresh, local, artisan, Olde Hearth Bread in your basket.