Breaking Bread (Traditions)

Over the past few years, you may have noticed something missing from restaurant dinner tables.

No, someone didn’t steal the silverware. It’s the breadbasket. During the economic downtown, an increasing number of eateries have excised free bread in order to cut costs, while others have begun charging for it.

Restaurateurs may want to rethink this move though, because a good bread program can help set an establishment apart from its competitors and help form its identity.

There are plenty of practical reasons why proprietors originally began offering a crusty kickoff to meals, which are still worthwhile incentives to keep it today.

A small high glycemic index snack like a roll can get the salivary glands working, which makes customers hungrier and likely to order more food than they originally intended.

It can also soothe an irritable patron before they take their dissatisfaction out on the waitstaff.

The hit of salt in the butter can make diners thirsty, so they might order high mark-up drinks from the bar.

And if that’s not enough to convince you, starting off a meal with a free item can help create a halo effect around the entire dining experience, which leads to a more positive overall impression of the restaurant.

Finish reading this post on the Restaurant Management website now.

Photo of Red Lobster’s Cheddar Bay Biscuits courtesy of Red Lobster.

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Chef-driven: Local toques have a taste for custom wheels

Pulling into a restaurant parking lot these days can feel like arriving at a vintage car show or a motorcycle rally. Front-and-center parking spaces often showcase eye-catching, customized rides. These wheeled wonders don’t belong to VIP diners though. They’re how the chefs got to work.

Mike Isabella drives a pimped-out purple-and-black Honda Ruckus with chrome rims, an ostrich leather seat, racing tires and Graffiato logos emblazoned on it. Former BLT Steak executive chef Victor Albisu roars around in a restored black 1971 Mercedes 280SL convertible, while Cork Market chef Kristin Hutter favors an apple-red 1970 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. Husband-wife team Kyle Bailey and Tiffany MacIsaac of Birch & Barley/ChurchKey prefer modern conveyances, so they each drive a MINI Cooper.

Motorcycles are particularly popular with toques. Cliff Wharton, executive chef at Matchbox in Chinatown, has a 2006 Harley Davidson Night Train. He hits the road regularly with a group of culinary colleagues known as Chefs on Bikes, which has included Brasserie Beck’s chef-owner Robert WiedmaierBayou Bakery’s chef-owner David GuasRogue 24’s chef-owner R.J. CooperOld Ebbitt Grill’s executive chef Robert McGowan, Passion Food Hospitality partner David Wizenberg and “whoever else wants to ride,” according to Wharton.

Finish reading this story on the Washington Post‘s All You Can Eat blog now.

Photo of Victor Albisu courtesy of Victor Albisu.

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Sweet Re-Treat

You know you’ve reached adulthood when you’re the one handing out candy on Halloween. If there’s still a part of you that wants to hunt for sweets with hordes of sugar-amped Disney princesses and Marvel superheroes, you have a more sophisticated option: candy bar classics reimagined by local chefs. These are definitely not carbon copies. “They should be reminiscent of the original,” says Birch & Barley’s pastry chef, Tiffany MacIsaac, who puts a personal twist on a pair of long-loved confections. “But they need to be grown-up takes.” Here are our favorite reinventions that will make you feel like a kid again.

Jackie’s Sidebar

Pastry chef Carolyn Crow is a self-admitted fangirl. Looking to combine her love of geek culture with her passion for pastry, she set out to create a Batman candy bar for her Sweet Treat Sampler ($8). “No matter whether you’re talking about the comics or the movies, Batman is always going to be very dark, rich and insane,” she says. Her homage to the Caped Crusader has a dark chocolate ganache center with a crumbly base of ground-up pecan pralines and crisped rice. This is enrobed in even darker chocolate and topped with a white chocolate Bat-Signal. It’s a dessert worth fighting the Joker for.

Jackie’s Sidebar, 8081 Georgia Ave., Silver Spring; 301-565-9700. (Silver Spring)

Find out my other three pics by reading the full article on the Express website now.

Photo courtesy of Plantains & Kimchi.

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