The SF Chronicle's Carol Ness reports on one of the area's newest trends: "At a small but growing number of sustainably inclined Bay Area restaurants, bottled water has become as much of an outcast as farmed salmon and out-of-season tomatoes. Instead of bottled water, diners now are served free carafes of -- gasp! -- tap water. It's filtered and comes still or sparkling, fizzed up by a soda-fountain-style carbonating machine."
Incanto's been serving tap for years but Chez Panisse used to go through 24,000 bottles of Italian water, an ironic choice for a pioneer of sustainability to make. They investigated using locally made sparkling waters but found them too carbonated to go with their food; eventually they purchased a $400 carbonator. The size of a toaster, it was "delivered last week, and installation involved little more than hooking into the reverse-osmosis charcoal filtering system already in use, and running a plastic line from the carbonator to a tap at the bar."