Monday, December 7, 2009

Should all restaurants serve free tap water?

special rant blog entry, rather than usual restaurant review...Andy Rooney (Sixty Minutes) style

I don't understand these restaurant owners. Plain water, iced or warm or hot...costs almost nothing to serve. I am already in your restaurant, and already will be paying for food...why can't you serve me a glass or two of plain iced water?

Some atas (meaning high class and posh - though some are wannabee atas) establishments insist on selling bottled water like Evian, San Pellegrino, Perrier or the like. While I do like the effervescence of sparkling water once in a does make some food taste better...but I don't like to be forced to have to buy a bottle at $6 or more.

Bakerzin used to refuse to serve free iced water, forcing the diner to buy a bottle at $1...admittedly not expensive for a bottle of mineral water, but what's the logic? They have since reverted to serving free water. Bravo Bakerzin.

One Italian place I was at recently - Lafiandra insists that you order one drink before serving free iced water. Strange, and totally illogical. When I dined there recently...see entry before this one, we ordered a bottle of San Pellegrino and a bottle of house wine...and after we finished those, they gladly, and without having us to ask, topped our glasses with free iced wter.

Another - Peperino lists Iced Water in their menu at $150 per glass during Happy Hour! The right column in blue indicates the price after Happy Hour. This is one way to discourage Singaporeans, who are always mindful of value for money, not to ask for iced water.

In Hong Kong and China, a cup of free hot tea is customary. Of course, its not the best tea in the world, but a welcome for a weary, thirsty diner, who may have been on his feet all day. Afterall, he is going to spend money on food.

In France, I believe the law mandates that patrons be served free iced water...of course, most restaurants and bistros try to get you to buy expensive water by seemingly offering only two choices, "plate ou gazeuse?"..."flat or sparkling?", but you can always ask for "un carafe eau" and they have to oblige with tap water with ice.

In Switzerland, Germany, Italy, UK, and US, a glass of iced plain water is served immediately when you are seated.

In a traditional coffee shop, who may not serve food, or where the food is offered by stalls who are not related to the drinks shop landlord...I can understand...the old timer's "ice kosong" and being charged 10 cents. But in a restaurant, the drinks and food are the same owner!

A restaurant owner I know told me that sometimes diners abuse the free water policy, and demand to be served liters of water for hours after they finish their meals. But my retort is, why punish all of your customers when those who abuse the system are the minority? Why not politely tell them that after 2 carafes, the next ones are at $3 each?

Here is one blogger's response...she lists places which do not serve free water.
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