I have been dining out for many years and have a little pet peeve. I would like to preface this post by saying that I love to eat out and am a pretty low maintenance diner, but this particular item ruffles my feathers time and time again.

Prior to ordering food at any restaurant, a waiter will usually ask if you would like still or sparkling water. They may offer up a $5-$10 bottled water first, and with waning enthusiasm offer “tap” water. Plunking down this much dough for a bottle of water that would cost $3 tops at the store is not the end of the world; it just doesn’t make me smile. Sometimes I am in the mood for sparkling water and I pony up, but the bubbles sting just a tad on the way down. (I am not cheap) The other thing that breaks my little heart is being snubbed by my waiter for electing to drink the local water. There was a certain French restaurant in Long Beach, CA, where the waiters were particularly snooty. I used to take great pleasure in announcing, “I would like the Long Beach water please — with lemon!” I lived in Long Beach for years and love it, but it aint no Calistoga and I would rather drink the tap water than be bullied by garcon into paying for Perrier.


The water fairies were listening! A few years ago, I dined at Bottega in Yountville, CA, one of my favorite restaurants in the whole world. They offered me purified still or sparkling water in pretty bottles and on the house! I reacted as if they had comped my $38 steak. They explained that the water was created with a lovely new machine called “Natura”.

Natura® is the only system of its kind that uses both high-grade carbon filters and INNOVATIVE UV technology to eliminate impurities and bacteria while retaining healthy, thirst-quenching minerals.
Invented by Italians and engineered in America, Natura® Water is the only water purification system of its kind that provides chilled sparkling and still water. The taste is guaranteed to please even the most discerning palate. In Italy, water, like wine, is considered an essential part of every meal.
– Natura®

So it turns out that restaurants aren’t simpy adopting the Natura machines because it gives customers warm-fuzzies. The Natura system is cost-effective and extremely “green”. Bottled waters from Fiji, Italy and France carry a big carbon footprint, not to mention the fact that the boxes and packaging aren’t always recycled.

I feel that small details like not paying for water at a restaurant can make a big difference in my overall experience.

I would love to hear of the extra “little” things that your favorite restaurants do that make you smile, like giving you a little tomato crostini before the meal,  cucumber scented water or placing a little yummy cookie on top of your bill.

By |2018-10-03T16:41:09-04:00April 13th, 2010|


  1. Kelly Oliver April 14, 2010 at 7:20 AM

    ooooooh. We have to get this word out!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Speaking from an athlete’s perspective, the water served in restaurants is particulary important so we always order bottled. Hate the ridiculous price, worse yet, hate to have a bad stomach from funky water the night before a race.

    Where can I try Natura in SF???? this is FANTASTIC!

  2. Carrie Gray April 14, 2010 at 10:12 AM

    Cucina gives you the most delectable bruschetta before your meal. Brazen Head has the most wonderful service which primarily includes the fact that they, in no way, rush you to finish by constantly asking to clear your plate or dropping off the bill before you’re done. My favorite Mexican restaurant brings out my margarita the minute I arrive without asking. And I like how a lot of restaurants are now leaving pitchers or bottles of water on the table instead of making us wait for the water guy. And if you’re having coffee, some provide you with a small pot. Il Fornaio gives you a small carafe of wine when you order a glass. My biggest pet peeve is those restaurants that clear one patron’s plate while another is still eating – so rude!

  3. realfoodies April 14, 2010 at 10:27 AM

    Those all sound great. Love the margarita ready when you arrive. That would be great to get at home and I totally agree with you on the plate-clearing issue. They should always ask. Thank you for commenting!

  4. realfoodies April 14, 2010 at 10:29 AM

    Hi Kelly, looks like you have already tried it at Foreign Cinema, did they charge you for it? Here is the link to other restaurants:

  5. Elise Notah April 27, 2010 at 3:04 PM

    Great post, will be back soon.

  6. […] them. I love people, except the mean ones and hard core criminals. FREE SPARKLING WATER: I already wrote about this, but it seems as though the trend is catching on! Some places charge a little, like .55, […]

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