Water Experiment

By: Patrick Maguire

Book Chapter: Observe / Analyze

Posted: 02/5/2010

I was reading the paper and having breakfast at the counter at one of my favorite greasy spoons this week, when a guy came in and sat a few stools away. I’m always doing research for my book, so naturally I listened in. The waitress approached him with her typical, Coffee, Hon? He replied, Yes, half regular and half decafe. Don’t refill it when I’m half done; you’ll mess up the balance of the cream and sugar.

As is often the case, I started to wonder if people realize how many personal, idiosyncratic preferences we have when it comes to eating and drinking. Of course servers know this, but I thought it would be fun to do an experiment to illustrate the point that there are hundreds of variables that go into every restaurant dining experience.

I’ve read thousands of amateur and professional reviews of restaurants over the years. Ok, it’s an obsession. The more I read, the more I know that you “can’t please all of the people all of the time,” especially with something as subjective as dining out.  Everyone has their own idea of exactly how things should be done. The next time you’re dining out with a group, ask everyone what they would do differently about the music, lighting, temperature, noise level, food, drinks,service and ambiance of the restaurant. Or just ask about something as simple as the bread. Do they like the bread? Is it warm enough? Do they like sea salt on their butter? Olive oil instead of butter? Rolls instead of bread? Bread before ordering food or with appetizers? If they owned the restaurant, what kind of bread would they serve?

Initially I thought about including personal  preferences regarding a few items in this experiment (coffee, bread + water), but I decided to keep it as simple as possible.

What is your exact personal preference in terms of drinking water in restaurants?

Here are a few variables to think about:

  • Tap, filtered, bottled, flat,  sparkling…
  • I only drink _______ brand.
  • On-premise, well water if you have it.
  • Fresh, running mountain stream only.
  • Flavored
  • Sippy cover for kids
  • Ice/Crushed ice/No ice
  • Freezing cold, room temp
  • Imported/domestic
  • Big glass, wine glass, short glass, tall glass…
  • I don’t drink water and I get upset when the server brings it automatically because the world is running out of water, dammit!!
  • Lemon? Lime? 3 lemons and 1 lime, but don’t squeeze them…
  • Other fruit?
  • I want my water waiting at my table and filled vigilantly until I get up to leave. I have a stopwatch and I will blast you on CitySearch, Chowhound, Yelp, and every other amateur review site if my water isn’t refilled within 1.25 minutes of being empty.
  • I like when the server leaves a pitcher so we can just fill our glasses at our own pace.
  • Straw/No straw

My preference is room-temperature tap water, served in a large glass with no ice, no fruit, no straw. If I’m away from the table when the server takes the order and pours water for the table, I’ll drink whatever is put in front of me. I prefer that my water is replenished throughout the meal. I never bring a stopwatch to a restaurant, and I think nothing of getting up and mentioning refills for our table if necessary.

After we see how easy it is to satisfy our water selections, we’ll talk about menus, drinks and bread. That’s when the real fun begins…

So, in a perfect world, what kind of water do you drink in a restaurant, and how is it served?

Let’s see if we can get 40 responses. Please take a moment to add your comment below. Thank you.

49 Responses to “Water Experiment”

  1. Edward says:

    I recently opened a small Diner on the North Shore, and I work alone most of the time, which leaves the serving as well as the cooking to me. Having always been in the kitchen, and not dealing w/customers before this, my eyes are wide open… I provide iced tap water if someone asks for it, and would prefer to provide a pitcher at the table, as I can’t be standing by to top off the glasses most of the time… And I love a slice of lemon or lime in my water…

  2. Michelle says:

    It has become a trend over the past few years for some/alot of servers to automatically put a ‘lemon’ in the water. I personally do not like this. I like lemons, but not in my water. I like a tall glass of regular water with lots of ice, plain and simple. Water is all I usually drink when I go out to eat. And feel servers should ask if I want lemons in my water before they automatically put some in, because it’s an annoyance for me to reach in the cup to pick them out! I am a food server and I never assume they want a lemon in their water, but I do ask if they would like one. As far as people who ask for a lime with their water or soda, it’s a pain – usually have to go to a different part of the restaurant (the bar) just for a piece of lime! This may sound a bit silly, but when I’m in the ‘weeds’, a slice of lime can feel like its a mile away!

  3. Nancy says:

    Usually I’m right there with you but this time I have to side with the idiosyncratic coffee person. If I take my coffee with 2 sugars and a dash of cream and it’s just right, topping it off always upsets the balance. You never get it right again by adding a “little” more sugar or a “bit” more cream – never. I wouldn’t sit down and order it that way though, I would politely decline the server’s attempt to top it off until I was done…
    Oh, and I rarely ever drink the water so I don’t really have an opinion about that, sorry.

  4. Jacob G says:

    I personally like water with lite ice. I believe water should be served cold, but not full of ice. I always ask, politely, for water with very easy ice, please. Most of the time I get it that way, sometimes I don’t and I just scoop out the ice and put in an empty bowl/etc.

    I do have a crazy story about a “wonderful” guest who comes into our restaurant: we never know what type of water she will be ordering…sometimes it’s tap water w/two ice cubes, sometimes it tap water w/half the glass w/ice — always w/a straw. Sometimes its sparkling water – no fruit, no ice – and sometimes its bottled still water – “w/1 lemon, and a glass of ice on the side, and please bring me a spoon so I can fill my glass with ice when I think it needs it…” She told us one time that she chooses her water based on what her doctor said, or what her astrologer said…sometimes I think she just likes to play the “…let’s see what hurdle I can stump the server with…” AND, let’s not even talk about her food order. whew!…

  5. Hank says:

    When water is placed in front of me I think that in many places in the world I’d be blessed just to have the glass of water and I thank God.

  6. diestro says:

    I personally don’t care what kind of water they serve me, as long as there is some sort of it on the table while i eat. I would not go as far as bringing a stop watch to a restaurant but I do expect prompt water refills, especially of it is a slow night or the restaurant is empty. not being able to keep up with water refills is the first sign that a. the server/bartender is not paying attention or b. he/she is overwhelm or the restaurant is under staffed.

  7. Alex Lincoln says:

    This is great, I just got off of a 12 hour shift schlepping food on a busy Friday night. I am a Executive Chef at a country club and I see the worst of the worst. These people feel like since they pay x amount of money per year to belong. My lettuce isn’t chopped enough. The wallpaper is ugly. The sky is blue. my favorite example of their quirkiness is to joke about them resigning over the amount of ice in their glass of water. It’s amazing how much this simple thing can affect someones dining experience. Before people even eat anything, this could make or break their experience. When i go out to eat, if I have a dirty water glass, it ruins everything. I cant’ get the image of a server scraping dried food gunk off of every glass until she finds one that she can trick me with, which makes me not drink water the entire time I am there, which in turn-pisses me off. If I do get in good condition, I want it filled a third of the way with crushed ice and an unsqueezed lemon slice, not wedge, and a thin slice of cucumber floating on top.

  8. laurie clark says:

    Hi, Patrick! I am brand new to your blog- how appropriate to start with water service! Not gonna share any horror stories regarding water. I will say this, though. I live in Portland Oregon, where the water is some of the best in the world. I always, always order Pellegrino when it is available- possibly because I am an addict after 12 years of drinking it working at Pazzo Ristorante.(you rock, Pazzo!) I also want tap. Something about sitting in a restaurant makes me fuckin’ thirsty! I will drink that Pelly and suck down all the ice water I can handle. Don’t know why. Awesome blog-I will talk it up at work, mos def!

  9. Mike Piehl says:

    If I know the restaurant, I’ll ask for no ice but usually I say “water’s fine” and drink what I’m given. If there’s a lemon or lime I take it out. (Most servers notice and apologize and I say, “not a problem”.)
    I’m with the dude who said, We’re lucky to live in a place that has clean water to drink!!!

  10. Natalie says:

    Well, first of all I EXPECT people to want a lot of water because I work in Hawaii and at the oceanfront. They’ve either been on a whalewatch for hours or at the beach in the hot sun with salt water everywhere dryin’ em out. AS WELL AS ENJOYING “ZESTY BEVS” aka Pina Coladas, beer and more, often!!! We get people from ALL over the world. Some like lemon cause they are used to fowl water where they are from and some with no ice cause thats just how they have been raised. Ice CAN be a shortage in some cases in some places, or they may have a bad tooth!! If youve ever had mouth/tooth problems you NO DOUBT can understand how cold can REALLY hurt!!!! Its our job to LISTEN!! and try our best to give them what they ordered!!! They have the option of hundreds of eateries and they chose yours!!! I had a guy the other day say how thirsty he was (he was also a bit moody)and so I brought him 2 glasses of h2o and he was soo happy!! I refilled them both 3 times!!! After the 4th glass he started getting much nicer.He was soo happy and then appoligized letting me know he had a big night the night before and went straight to the beach in the am and so forth. NOT ONLY DID HE LEAVE ME A PHAT TIP, he came back every other day with friends and family and chose our place to be his “local” vacation spot!!! All because of how I chose to handle a situation so small as water!! The little thing as a glass of h2o can really make or break a restaurant. Some are snooty but guess what!! You get to stay and they will eventually HAVE to go home!!! Just make a choice and treat others as you’d like to be treated!! If it doesnt work, you know you did the best you could!! Even though I know we can’t win em all, that was just one for the books in my world!!! KEEP THE $$$ ROLLIN INTO MY POCKET!!!!

  11. michelle says:

    I am a server, and when I go out to eat I am happy to drink tap water ( depending on where in the states or world I am). It should be very cold if there is not going to be any ice in it. I do not like to have to ask for water, as it seems some restaurants don’t automatically serve water to each guest. Refilling promptly is a must, especially when it’s all I’m drinking.

  12. Michael Kostin says:

    To be honest, I never really thought about it, and never realized how picky people can be over something as simple as water, even though I have been in the industry over 20 years.

    Personally, I do not really care how the water is served, as long as there is water served, along with whatever else I decide to drink whether it is cocktails, wines, or non-alcoholic beverages. My preference is for it to be in a clean glass, some ice, no fruit and no straw. I appreciate it when servers ask if I want lemon with my water, but I always decline. Likewise if I am offered a straw, I will decline it. However, if my water comes with a lemon and a straw in it, I simply take them out. In any case though, I just usually take my water however it is served to me. I do not make a fuss over it to the server because they did not get it exactly the way I wanted it. If it was such a big deal to me, then I would specify how I want my water to the server. But really, it is just water. What is the big deal?

    My mom, on the other hand, always asks for room temperature water with no ice (she has sensitive teeth/gums and cold ice water bothers her) and a slice of lemon (to over come the taste of chlorine/flouride in the water). I’ve learned when I dine with my family, to order her water for her that way, as I usually arrive and get seated before the rest of my family shows up.

    I am all too well aware though of coffee drinkers. I will not refill a coffee cup unless I am asked to, or I will offer to refill the coffee cup and let the customer decide if they want me to refill it or not. The same goes for iced tea.

  13. Dee says:

    I dine out so infrequently that water is a non-issue. If I’m out for dinner, I have a cocktail. Sometimes I may ask for water toward the end of the meal and before tea, but I don’t care how it comes. The only disappointment is when it has an unpleasant taste. But as a tea drinker (don’t drink coffee at all) why is there almost never anywhere to put the tea bag once you ring it out? I’ve been to some fine restaurants where they don’t have a vehicle to properly dispose of the bag. And I never get asked for a refill, as do my coffee drinking companions. It’s a coffee drinkers world. Sigh…

  14. jenn says:

    On a standard day, I’m fine with tap-water. I have sensitive teeth but like it cold so on ice with a straw, please. But sometimes I like a little fruit, sometimes I prefer sparkling and sometimes I don’t even touch it. If I’m really thirsty I’ll take it room temp, no ice so I can drink it down quickly.

    Some of the replies here seem to think you’re complaining about it. I don’t think you are (are you?) but simply pointing out all the different ways people can and do order their meals. Although this can get a little tiring for servers and restaurateurs, imagine how incredibly boring life would be without these idiosyncrasies. If we all liked our water the same way, there would be only one water and one way to drink it, no questions asked. And, there’d probably only be one giant restaurant per city that served only one thing because that’s the only thing and the only way everyone eats it. So I say, bring on your idiosyncratic ways! Heck, I may even try something new because of it.

  15. Consider a specific sample of restaurants, all within the same zip code, liquor license, hours, chef, heat, lights, etc.
    As an owner of one of those restaurants, I would enjoy the most idiosyncratic of customers. Their quirky likes and dislikes matched with a focus on their comfort makes for an elastic relationship with my business.
    I use the term elastic because competition from and curiosity with other restaurants within the same zip code always pull our guests away but they will spring back to where they are most comfortable. That comfort level is generally where a server cares how they like their coffee, cocktail, booth location, etc.
    After all, without customers we are empty.

  16. Chris says:

    For breakfast, water being offered is good enough. It’s my experience most people stick to their coffee,tea,juice, etc…

    Lunch and dinner, water should be available on the first approach of the server. I often am quite thirsty when I arrive for a meal. I am a firm believer in tap water being equal to bottled, therefore prefer tap. I like a big glass, and like to have a pitcher on the table with a small about of ice in it. Lemon and/or lime is a mood thing, sometimes I want it, sometimes not. Straw for the kids, not for me.

  17. nina says:

    I usually take soda water with lime and ask that no water be brought to me. I figure the server has to go to the bar for my soda water so the lime isn’t a problem and I expect to pay for it. I have seen some customers get themselves all worked up about being charged for soda water. You have to pay for regular soda don’t you.

  18. Susan says:

    Tap with ice, no lemon. What I don’t like (and is happening less often, thank goodness) is being pressured to purchase imported bottled water — sparkling or flat. I’m very happy to see that trend depart.

  19. Nancy- I didn’t say there was anything wrong with the way the guy ordered his coffee. In fact, he was very polite, and the waitress was happy to accomodate him. I just wanted to take one, basic component of a meal (water) and illustrate how many different ways people prefer being served. In future posts we’ll get into the more complex idiosyncrasies that people have while dining out and interacting with customer service industry workers from all walks of life. Please email with ideas. Thank you-PM

  20. Joe says:

    I’ll pretty much drink whatever is put in front of me! I’d prefer no lemons or other fruits in my water. I like the water a bit on the chilled side with ice. I do get upset when I see that the glass that holds my water is not thoroughly cleaned, however!

  21. Stacey says:

    I am also a traditional “love that dirty water” kind of girl. I actually feel like tap water tastes more refreshing than most bottled stuff. I usually will order the house tap unless I am in the rare sparkling kind of mood (in which case I’ll order my soda with vodka and a splash of cran-again no preference for brand).
    Like many of you, my biggest request is that someone acknowledge that we have been seated at the table and the offer of our water preference is the perfect intro. I don’t get too worked up over slow service as long as my server knows we are there.

    On a related topic, I tend to get frustrated when you go to a hotel and there are tantalized bottles of water strewn around the room. You tned to grab one as you walk in at the end of a long day without realizing that you have just taken a 10 dollar sip. I assume hotel tap is just as good as the tap in the restaurant downstairs. Funny how we are more comfortable drinking tap in restaurants than hotel rooms!

  22. Lisa says:

    I guess I never gave this much thought but I do indeed have a preference in regards to water while I’m dining out. My preference would be to have a glass of ice water w/a slice of lemon in it…..but I would never specifically ask for a slice of lemon if it wasn’t part of the normal water protocol. I never order bottled water as tap water is fine. My gripe about water in restaurants is being served in streaky, cloudy water glasses. If my glass doesn’t look clean it can ruin the meal for me.
    Great blog Patrick.

  23. fairlady says:

    I am very particular when I order my water. I like it in a bottle with a tall glass with ice on the side. Not sparkling.
    No lemon. However, it seems that 9 out of 10 times the server forgets it when serving the other drinks. I was a waitress for many years and the water was not found at the bar. We had to pour
    it from the waitress station. So I am thinking that is why it is often forgotten.

  24. Tony D says:

    I can take the water or not, if it is serveded then I will drink it and want more. Out of sight out of mind. But I don’t like it with lemon and if I order water it has to be sparkling with lime not lemon.

  25. carpe bliss says:

    When we are really thirsty I find there is nothing that hits the spot more than a cold glass of water!!!!

    It really works for me when it is served as part of the meal (with ice) and is naturally refilled as a seamless part of the flow….it makes for a relaxing and refreshing part of the dining experience!

    It’s pleasant when it doesn’t have to take on a life of it’s own….who wants it –who doesn’t….how do we all want it… when do we want it??? There are so many other choices we can make realtive to other parts of the meal—keeping it simple with the H20 factor seems “user friendly” for everyone!

    How blessed we are to have it no matter how we take it or how it is presented!

  26. Micaela says:

    For me: tap water, and it doesn’t matter if it has ice or not, lemon or not, straw or not. It is often said you can gauge how your “relationship” with a table will go from the first ten seconds you spend with them, and when it takes them more than one full sentence to describe to you how they would like their water, my heart always sinks.

  27. Jackie says:

    I always order “water, please, with no lemon”, and will ask for another glass if the waiter brings it with lemon. Even if I pick out the lemon, the water still has that taste that I cannot stand. I try to be very polite about it, though. I work as a cashier. I don’t want to be one of “those” customers.

  28. Jubilee says:

    I personally prefer chilled tap water with neither ice nor lemon, but I don’t order it that way unless the server asks specifically. I just ask for “water,” and drink it the way it’s served.

    To Michelle (comment #11) I may be wrong, but I think it’s against the law to automatically serve water in some states.

  29. emily says:

    I like tap water no ice…but my God, its water, I’ll drink whatever, it really shouldn’t be so much of an issue. As a server, i’ve approached tables, and after greeting the guests, i moved on to the sparkling, still, or iced water. People never failed to be confused…”Greygoose martini bone dry twist,” i have that kind of reply hundreds of times!

  30. Michelle B. says:

    I like any kind of water with chunks of ice and no lemon or lime with a straw. If the server forgets and brings the water with lemon in it, I just drink it anyway. I don’t put up a fuss over water.

  31. CD Berkeley says:

    I prefer tap water and usually ask for some lemon. Whether the lemon is in the glass or on a plate, I could care less. I don’t like a lot of ice but I usually gauge the environment before I start making any further requests right off the bat such as limited/no ice, or even lemon. That being said, if I see the server pouring out the side of the pitcher instead of the spout, I immediately speak up.

    I do think that refilling water should be part of the flow but I’m also not afraid to ask for it. (I often sit at the bar and appreciate that making drinks, not refilling water, makes money.)

    Glasses, straw and other preferences don’t mean anything to me.

    But I do agree with someone else’s response about feeling pitched to buy a bottle of water. I hate it. So, while we’re on the subject, if I may make a request to servers – simply ask if I do have a prefernce for water rather than listing all the options. Having to turn down the bottle and insist on tap shouldn’t make a difference to anything, particularly given the great food I end up eating, but it does momentarily make me feel cheap.

  32. Mr.Steve says:

    I went to my local NYC diner for breakfast this morning and had to smile when I had all 3 busers and all 5 waiters stop by in the span of less than 3 minutes to ask if I needed more coffee, after I’d only taken one sip out of my full mug. I finally put a napkin over the top of the mug, just so I could finish reading one paragraph in the morning paper! Next time, no one will come by at all and I’ll have to flag someone down. It either rains or it pours (coffee)!

  33. LAS says:

    Well what I like and what I think is enough are two different things. If I were in a perfect world ice water from the bottle with a fizz served in a glass with ice and citrus or cuke with a straw.
    But please we live in a first world country with so much. Let’s be lucky they serve us water at all and that we have it in abundance.

  34. Mr. Burbz says:

    i like a slice of lemon, but usually will not ask for it…iced or ice in the glass is fine, but it has to be cold…and wet..i’m easy

  35. Nicole says:

    I work in a restaurant, and we fill up pitchers with tap water for the servers to use. They add the ice/lemons/straws. My personal preference is room temp water, no ice no lemon, but I will take a straw. I like my water in tall, pint like size glass.

  36. SK says:

    I live in a Country where it is not usually customary for restaurants to automatically serve tap water. If I feel like water, I will ask for a glass of sparkling mineral water with no ice and a slice of lemon. I don’t drink tap water but even if I did I would feel a little uncomfortable asking for it as it would make me feel cheap.

  37. Tom says:

    I grew up drinking tap water and I’m astounded by the amount of time, energy and money that are spent on water. My first restaurant job was at Friendlys and we were trained to bring water to everyone as soon as they sat down, so this is what I’ve always expected. Regualr cool water is great, no lemon, no cucumber, no straw. And keep it coming, especially on those days when I’ve stopped at the pub with my buddies for a pint and a sandwich after a long hike.

  38. Doug Mannen says:

    I typically drink water with my meals, and, as we have what I think is pretty good tap water in Portland, that’s what I usually drink. No big preference on glassware, but since you asked, my favorite is the smooth, unadorned pint glass. A little ice is nice, but not too much. On a somewhat-related topic, it never fails to amaze me how many empty plastic water bottles are in the recycling bin each month. When we were kids, who would’ve thought we’d be paying for and consuming water this way? Nice to see you getting some other Portland love from Laurie at Pazzo.

  39. Oryoki says:

    Just trying to help get you to your requested 40 comments.

    Water, whatever. Given a choice it really depends which town I’m in, what season it is, and the time of day. Certainly ice in the summer. Hey it takes 7 calories to warm ice water up enough for your body to deal with it. Beats going to the gym I tell them.

    I love the reactions when I order coffee, beer, fresh OJ if they have it or a glass of water if they don’t for breakfast. Now see I would never order coffee to start an afternoon or evening meal, it kills the taste buds to other flavors.

    Where I work I offer bottled or town water. It always gets a laugh from the people that live in town. I don’t think they think of their water as “town water”. If people want to put lemons in our water they have to endure a lecture about the high mountain quality water we serve, but they always get their lemons. We also serve lemonade if they want it. Cucumbers, an interesting idea, it works with Hendricks.

    I always keep the water glasses full. When they try to stop me because they’re done and they don’t want to waste water here in the arid west I have to give them another lecture about the need to pass water downstream. My hometown, not where I work presently, conserved and held back so much water one year that some farmers downstream were not allowed to use their wells and their fields went dry and they lost their crops and some lost their farms. That’s what I tell them and they usually give in and let me fill the glass.

    In my hometown they used to get the water exclusively from a glacier and only ran it through a gravel bank to filter out the big chunks. That water was the absolute best. Then in ’58 they added chlorine, fluoride, alum, and other chemicals while filtering for real getting everything out. Then in the 60’s they started to add water from a cross continental source. On days when that source is added you can smell and taste the difference, plus it has all those chemicals. I drink artesian water from a local spring now. I re-fill my bottles at the source for 25 cents a gallon, a small price to pay.

    We have a really great vegetable platter and when people order it I also recommend they try Herman’s vegetable platter at his restaurant in the mountains AND right across the street is the town spring where people fill their water bottles. I recommend they take their water bottles along when they visit Herman. Colorado Rocky Mountain Spring Water. Hey, next time you’re skiing in Aspen and after you stop in Glenwood Springs for a soak take a side trip at Dotsero and head up to Broken Rib Spring to fill your bottles. A two inch pipe runs steady 24/7 bringing Flattops Wilderness water your way.

    So I’ll say it again, water, whatever.

  40. Velma says:

    I prefer plain tap water, a little cooler than room temperature. If I’m asked, I’ll say, “plain water, with no ice, please,” but my day will not be ruined if the server puts ice in it, particularly since my husband prefers his water with ice.

  41. Michelle says:

    For Nancy, no offense, but soda water is just minus the soda syrup and comes from the soda machines in the kitchen for servers, or in the bar area from the soda spignot that the bartender can only use. Usually there is a black button you push for the soda without the soda syrup from the soda machine that is in the kitchen. And most limes come from the bar area. People like their drinks the way they like them. I am not complaining, just an FYI.

    I just think that servers should always ask, ask, ask…. before bringing water. Ex: Would you like a slice of lemon with your water and/or tea. Some people just do not like lemons dropped or put on the side of their glasses, they do not like the taste. It’s wise for servers to ask this before hand. Some people see lemons, and think, “oh gross”. That’s nice to think your first 5 minutes in the place.

    Oh, can you believe I went to a restaurant with a friend, and the restaurant charged my friend a quarter for each slice of lemon for her water that she wanted. Didn’t tell her upfront, but, think about it…..how many lemons do you think some restaurants can go through over a weekend just to put a slice of lemon or 3 in your water? Interesting. I was a little taken back, but this lemon/water trend has become pretty popular and lemons cost $ too, and they’re not the cheapest fruit on the block.

  42. Brenda says:

    I have to say that I really don’t like it when my coffee cup is refilled before I am ready for the same reason. I thought I was the only person in the world so I never said anything; if they topped it off I just dealt with it.

    As far as water, I always ask for water with lemon (I am not ridiculously picky but some tap water has that off taste) and I have to say about 80% of the time the water comes without the lemon and I feel like a weenie asking for it again. But now that I see I am so not in the minority I can hang up my complex! Thanks, all!

  43. Mr.Steve says:

    Michelle: Many restaurants require servers to do certain things, like putting lemon in the water, whether the customer wants it or not. Please don’t blame the server for doing something her superiors stress she MUST do. As for the place that charges for lemons, well I do find that odd, but restaurants go through literally hundreds of lemons in a weekend for drinks and water and food. Usually it’s just part of general expenses, but certainly a lot of lemons are used. And why would you need 3 slices of lemon in your water? That sound excessive, and perhaps that is why this place decided to charge for them!

  44. Well, we made it beyond 40 comments. Thanks to everyone for chiming in. The multiple preferences noted really does illustrate that something as simple water can evoke strong opinions.

    On Tuesday, I was talking about this thread with a good friend of mine who is a GM at one of my favorite neighborhood restaurants. As she noted, “So many comments, and most of the time we’re talking about something that’s free (water). Wait until we start talking about the parts of the meal that customers have to pay for!!” Amen.

    PS- As of February 11th, we are approaching 1,000 members in the facebook group supporting the blog and the book project. Please consider joining the group by clicking on facebook on the left-hand side at the top of the page. Thank you very much-PM

  45. Anna Bastian says:

    I am amazed at the scope of water wishes. I like mine fresh chilled tap, no ice, reasonably large glass, no straw, no fruit, and, having once lived where all drinkable water was available only from cisterns, I treasure what I get and would like to be asked about refills.

    Anna B.

  46. Carol says:

    My requirements are few: I like a clean glass, and I like a server who fills the glass on occasion. The type of water is of no consequence…tap water is fine unless you can practically smell the chlorination.

  47. I do not like water served at the table at all. I know it’s tradition and one of the things that critics rate a restaurant on. I think that is old fashioned and out of style. Most of the water is not drinkable anyway. Give me a martini instead. A freezing cold one made with gin and dry vermouth. Better than water anyday and won’t fill you up:>)

  48. Michelle says:

    This may not be the place to make this comment, but Believe it or not, I’ve served some guests who request plain water with a lemon and extra lemons on the side, and a few minutes later a refill on their sugar caddies. Hmmmmm, looks like their making their own lemonaide for free. Of course I don’t say anything. (Maybe I should call ‘corporate’ to tell them to put on the menu: Your choice of drink: Fresh Homemade Lemonaide, you can make at your own table $2. 🙂 Hey, not a bad idea, we can provide a lemon squeezer at the table and give them a whole lemon!

  49. Eric says:

    my only rule with water: NO lemon. other then that i am a very easy person to wait on

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