Do foods before a meal require a bracha achrona?
* The Rashba (Brachot 41b) ponders whether any food eaten before the meal is considered disconnected from the meal and requires a bracha achrona or perhaps since
after the meal anyway you are going to recite birkat hamazon there is no reason to recite a bracha achrona now. He quotes a Yerushalmi which seems to dispute this exact point. His conclusion is that one should make a bracha on all food before a meal since they aren't connected to the meal. This is also the opinion of the Ramban (Milchamot Pesachim 24a).
* However, the Baal Hameor suggests that there is a major exception to this rule. Anything which requires a mein shalosh should be exempted with the birkat hamazon and as such does not require a bracha achrona before the meal. The Raavad, Ramban, and Ran explicitly disagree with such an idea and prove from Brachot 41b that it is indeed incorrect. As is evident from the discussion of the Baal Hameor himself the Rif disagrees with his idea as well.