New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni wrote a blog post that nicely complements the Old Gray Lady's editorial yesterday on choosing tap over bottled water when dining out. Bruni, who knows a thing or two about eating out, has noticed a slight softening in the bottled-water hard sell but still finds that too often diners are asked "sparkling or flat?"—as if there's no option to order tap.
But I think restaurants shouldn’t try to pressure diners into ordering bottled water by pretending another option doesn’t exist and by trying to make diners feel abashed about having to bring up that less expensive — indeed, free! — option themselves. I definitely think that’s part of restaurants’ strategy, though I trust, or at least hope, it doesn’t work on most diners. It shouldn’t.
And it shouldn’t in part because there’s nothing wrong with tap. That’s the point of the editorial, which you can keep on hand, should you ever need your faith in your decision to bypass bottled water bolstered. By asking for tap, you’re not denying yourself a vastly higher grade of product and wading into an inferior pool. You’re doing something sensible and saving yourself a lot of money.
As the editorial points out, drinking eight glasses of bottled water a day would cost about $1,400 annually while the same amount of tap water would cost 49¢.