Customer Reviews: Bread and Butter
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If running a restaurant is a daily balancing act of time, money and creativity, brothers Britt and Leo are performing a successful high wire act at Winesap, the most cosmopolitan and pricey dining establishment in their home-town of Linden, just outside Philadelphia. Enter their well educated, well traveled intense and charming younger brother, Harry, who decides to open a small but innovative bistro in a "bold and foolhardy" part of town and begins a case of restaurateur sibling rivalry.

While this book is filled with behind the scenes recipes and details that food enthusiasts will definitely appreciate, I personally found the narrative a bit plodding and pedestrian and a few of the various concoctions described to be a little avant-garde for my obviously unrefined palate. The romantic aspects of the story as well as the brother's pseudo problems and rivalry are yawn producing and appear to be an afterthought in what should have been a non-fiction behind the scenes look at the restaurant business.

This is a case where the writer's descriptive excursions into food preparation is the tasty "bread and butter" portion of the novel but the character development and story line are hopelessly bland and without flavor.

Reading BREAD AND BUTTER is akin to eating a full meal at one of those restaurants where the main course is little more than a taste and you come away feeling hungry. Personally, I'd prefer more emotionally satisfying reading material, sort of like a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.
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Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Bread and Butter is sheer delight to read from beginning to end. It makes you forget about the 12 inches of snow outside, as you follow a truly delightful cast of characters as they navigate the ins and outs of the restaurant business, family dynamics and love.

Leo and his brother Britt have worked together for years and their restaurant Winesap located approximately 1 ½ hours out of Philadelphia is running smoothly. Stoic Leo runs the back and Britt, with his flawless eye for detail and swagger, the front of the restaurant. When their younger brother Harry moves back home and decides to open his own restaurant, a few blocks away in the seedier part of town, he looks to his older brothers for help and guidance. Harry's restaurant will come to mean different things to the three brothers. For Harry, the culmination of years of starts and stops in many other endeavors. For Leo, an eye-opener to the fact that maybe he has become complacent and needs to jump start both Winesap's menu and his own life. For Britt, a chance to prove he is not "just the face of the restaurant" but can also be the brains. Family being family, it does not take long for cracks in their relationships to emerge and what moves the story engagingly along is the why and how they crumble. The author is able to bring the sibling rivalry, jealousy, and resentments that turn little molehills into giant mountains to life. That being said, these character do grow and change.

Bread and Butter perfectly captures the atmosphere and minutiae of restaurant life. The reader is also privy to scrumptious insider details of what really goes on in your favorite restaurant. While you need not be a connoisseur, the food descriptions were mouth watering.

The author certainly has a way with her male characters and each is very appealing in their own way. Leo is divorced and married to the job, while good looking Britt dates frequently with little enjoyment. When Leo comes to realize that his Executive chef is a lot more than just efficient and Britt falls hard for a sophisticated customer, the two couples combination of romantic chemistry is pitch perfect.

Bread and Butter is a page turner brimming with warmth and humor. It is highly recommended for anyone.
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VINE VOICEon February 10, 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
One of my favorite web-celebrities maintains that bad is the absence of good, but I disagree. However, I can see where he's coming from. I have read much worse books than "Bread and Butter," books I hated, books that infuriated me, books that made me want to throw them across the room. But in even the worst books, I usually find something of interest-- a memorable scene or character, or even just prose that's so bad it's good.

But "Bread and Butter" elicited little response from me at all. There just wasn't much to pull me in or spark my imagination. I think the main problem here is that, instead of being a book about characters who work in the restaurant industry, it's a fictionalized account of working in the restaurant industry with characters who are little more than props. They're just so typical and undetailed-- Britt is the one with an eye for style and a gift for faking intimacy with customers, Leo is the introverted one who runs things but keeps to himself, Harry is the young, creative one with a sort of bohemian lifestyle. Plots with boring characters can work, but the plot here doesn't really get started until about 100 pages in. The set-up takes way too long and just isn't interesting at all. The characters sit around and talk about interior design, menus, whether their restaurants are too conservative or too bold; we hear them mull over their conflicts with each other, over and over. There is some stuff on the politics of the restaurants, but most of it isn't particularly funny. Nothing really happens with the romantic interests, either (neither of which are very interesting).

I will say that Wildgen writes about food very well. Reading this book made me hungry (for food I can't afford, but that's beside the point). She also gets the industry right. In the second part, when Harry's restaurant finally opens, I was drawn in by the hectic nature of the business. Having worked in a restaurant before, I could relate. And I only worked at a fast food place; running a place like Harry's seems like it would be much worse. I became more invested in his character then and wanted to find out how he would handle it. The relationship among the brothers does become more complex and interesting in this part. Still wasn't anything really special, but interesting enough. Still, "Bread and Butter" takes way too long to get to the point. If I hadn't been reading the book for Vine, I would've put it down way before I got to part two.

IN SHORT: "Bread and Butter" bored me because the author seemed much more interested in the food and everyday workings of the restaurant business than she did in the characters and plot. The set-up, in which nothing much happens, takes way too long. Part 2, when Harry finally opens his restaurant, is better because it shows how hectic and overwhelming the business can be. The relationship among the brothers becomes more interesting here, too. But it's too little, too late; I never would've made it to part 2 had I been reading just for fun.
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on April 22, 2014
I enjoyed this story of three brothers and the relationships among them as well as with the women in their lives. Certainly I never could have conceived of the amount of stress involved with owning a restaurant. That said, I was hoping for a "real ending" and disappointed with what could have been much more satisfying. It was almost as if the author was saying, "This is really only just book one in a planned trilogy." It just petered out and ended....kind of like this review. Hopefully, you'll enjoy the story more than I.
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on March 22, 2014
I'm a foodie - my favorite TV channel is Food Network and I'm fascinated by cooking and cookbooks. I looked forward to this novel when I read the description. Unfortunately, it is surprisingly boring.

The characters are pretty much two dimensional and the descriptions of food and menus sprinkled in can't rescue the story. There are a lot of other novels based on restaurants that are far better.

Too was an interesting premise.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon April 3, 2014
I enjoyed reading Bread and Butter, in part because I enjoy a good meal as much as I enjoy a good book. There's also something romantic about the restaurant business. Like many people, I love the idea of owning/managing a restaurant even though I know nothing about food preparation. I do know that most restaurants fail and that I'm much too lazy to put in the hours that a successful restaurant demands. Reading a book that's set in the world of fine dining is therefore a vicarious pleasure that appeals to my culinary fantasies.

Two brothers, Leo and Britt, have been in the restaurant business for ten years, having grown a successful upscale restaurant in the economically deprived soil of Linden, Pennsylvania. Britt is the restaurant's handsome face; Leo the brains. Britt knows how to manage people while Theo is adept at managing finances. Their younger brother Harry, long absent from Linden, has returned to start a restaurant of his own. Britt is bugged that his little brother would have the audacity to compete, particularly without paying his dues in the business. Britt is also bugged when Harry turns up for dinner with Camille, a beautiful regular at Britt's restaurant who nonetheless remains a mystery to him.

While always written in the third person, the novel shifts point of view among the three brothers. They have very different personalities, all brought into sharp focus during the course of the novel. Their outward personalities -- Leo is withdrawn but ultra-competent, Britt is outgoing and relaxed, Harry is charming but high strung -- often mask their true selves. Each is doing his best to conceal his insecurities from the others and the brothers' perceptions of each other (like the reader's perceptions of each) are constantly evolving. Getting a better understanding of the characters as their depths are gradually revealed is a highlight of reading the novel.

Still, the best part of Bread and Butter is its fascinating behind-the-scenes look at restaurant management (in the case of Britt and Leo's established venue) and restaurant development (in the case of Harry's startup). The drama of the restaurant business is complemented by family conflict -- sibling rivalry combined with personal and professional jealousies. To make an innovative high quality restaurant work, you might need to be a little obsessed. All three brothers are obsessed in their own ways. Bread and Butter drives home the point that obsessions might help you succeed professionally while destroying you personally, particularly when obsessions begin to clash.

Some portions of the narrative are too expository and some of the relationship drama is too predictable to be dramatic, but those small flaws are overshadowed by the lush descriptions of food and the quirkiness with which line cooks, dessert chefs, and other members of the gossipy and insular restaurant community are portrayed. If I could, I would give Bread and Butter 4 1/2 stars.
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on August 17, 2014
Deliciously descriptive preparations, cooking and serving insights of restaurant life do make for a fun read if you are a foodie.... otherwise a slow moving, and not all that interesting, story of three brothers working in the same field.
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VINE VOICEon February 27, 2014
Format: Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The food described within the pages of this book sounds so delicious. I wanted to go to the restaurants in this book. However, I am largely a character driven type of reader, meaning I want a book that lets me delve inside of a person, preferrable one single person that I can get to know in the pages of a book. This book is about 3 brothers and their journey's as brother's as well as their growth as restaurant workers/starters. Without the food described within and a knowledge of how kitchens are run (my husband is a chef), this book would have been a bore. I didn't care about these characters. I just wasn't won over or invested in any of the 3 brothers.

The writing was just ok. There was no sibling spats that would surely and normally occur. There were no recipes, not a single one! C'mon I've read non-restaurant books that have included even ONE recipe. I expected at least ONE bread recipe. But nope, nothing.

I've seen this book compared to Kitchen Confidentials. I'm saying "no way!!" Anthony Bourdain's book was marvelous on all counts. This is nothing like that book. It did remind me a bit of "Under the Tuscan Sun" but it was missing the wanderlust of that book.

Since it did make a nice simple read one Sunday while fishing with my husband I have to be fair and say it was entertaining.
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on March 17, 2014
Three brothers combining family and the insanity if the restaurant business. Well written, realistic and fast paced.
The "boys" mistake work life for real life and somehow hobble together a relationship with each other and manage to fall in love.
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on April 4, 2014
I love reading about food almost as much as I love eating it. This tale about back-of-the-house drama among three brothers with competing restaurants was as satisfying as a seven-course meal. Wildgen employs quick dialogue and subtle humor to keep readers turning the pages, looking for the next serving in this entertaining novel.
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