Pete Wells, writing for the New York Times:
It may not be as infantilizing and infuriating as the chef-knows-best power play of the bread course, but the breadbasket games in à la carte restaurants still push all kinds of buttons. It’s one of those times when we can see the sharp teeth of profit hiding behind the smile of hospitality. Never mind that a slice or two of bread can smooth out the restless, angry edge of hunger; the restaurant industry has decided that giving us bread when we first sit down means a lower check total.
We know that’s what they’re thinking, too, just as we know that when they charge for bread they’ve stopped seeing this simple civility as a way to make us happy and started seeing it as a line item.
There are few edible things I enjoy more than a freshly baked dinner roll smothered with butter. But as Mr. Wells points out, that pre-meal ritual seems to be disappearing from restaurants. Why serve free bread when you can sell over-priced appetizers instead?