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lemon in ice water

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  • aelph Nov 27, 2007 11:14 AM
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as per another recent thread:

I'd never encountered the expectation of lemon slices in restaurant ice water until living in the Midwest. I never saw it in Texas(where I'm from) and I still have yet to see it practiced on either coast. I've read waiter blogs that imply it's a Southern Black thing. But, I've also noticed that Midwesterners(regardless of race) of a certain age(the s/o's 80+ grandmother, for example) expect lemon with their water and always request it. Me, I can take it or leave it; years back I was somewhat amused and confused by this regional abberration, now I just go with the flow. Lemon's fine in ice water, but I certainly don't *need* it(or demand it). And, of course, there's the idea that slicing up lemons for water is a loss for the restaurant. Any thoughts?

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  1. I've lived in the midwest for 30 years, and have eaten out at lots of different restaurants throughout the region. I'd have to say that ice water is not usually served with lemon -- some restaurants do it, but not most. I can take it or leave it.

    1. The very first time I saw lemon in a water glass was nearly 30 years ago at a place in Santa Barbara, CA, called "Epicurean" or something like that (long closed). For some reason, the water did not have ice, and my then-GF and I wondered if they were glasses for drinking (they were short and wide) or fingerbowls...so we sat there, watching and waiting to see if other customers drank or cleaned up....

      3 Replies
      1. re: ricepad

        I love the anecdote...I would've done the same thing. And, you disprove my "never seen on either coast" assumption, too.

        1. re: ricepad

          Which reminds me of a story about the Queen. Seems at a state dinner a guest who mistook a finger bowl as soup, and started to drink from it. The Queen, being ever polite and in an effort not to embarass the guest, also drank from the bowl. Since everyone must do what the Queen does, so everyone at the dinner drank from the finger bowl.

          1. re: PeterL

            Funny you should mention that story, because we talked about it while debating "water glass or fingerbowl?"! We decided, tho, that since neither of us was royalty, we would have to wait and follow somebody ELSE'S lead.

        2. I don't think I can recall ever getting lemon in iced water, always in iced tea but never in water. Rachael Ray always orders lemon with her iced water on her $40 a Day show, always makes me roll my eyes.

          1 Reply
          1. re: KTinNYC

            Shoot! For that reason, I'll never do it again

          2. I'm in Houston and I would say that about 60% of the restaurants do put a lemon slice in ice water, which my husband detests! I don't mind it, and I get double lemon, but it doesn't really add flavor unless you squeeze the lemon, so it does no harm. I primarily drink water, so it's a treat to get a bit of lemon, and I will ask for it if it isn't served.

            Once I was at the grocery store and this very large man was looking at flavored waters, and asked me what I thought about them. Come to find out he was trying to kick the cola habit, to lose weight. My opinion is that paying for flavored water is a waste of money, unless you have it to burn, so I told him to just get a lemon, or orange and squeeze that in his water, and skip the extra cost. He was much appreciative, and said that made sense to him.

            4 Replies
            1. re: danhole

              Wow, do we eat in different restaurants! I can't think of any place where I've gotten lemon in the ice water. But then I've been specializing in hole-in-the-wall places for a couple of years, I may have only eaten at one or two white-table cloth establishments all year.

              I think what' silly is buying bottled unflavored water since it usually comes out of a tap in some other city. I think Houston water is tasty but I order iced tea with almost everything unless the restaurant offers hot tea.

              1. re: brucesw

                Oh, goodness Bruce! Do I sound like a "white-table cloth establishment" person? Egads! I'm not at all. Only on very rare occasions! But I agree that hole in the wall places do not pass out lemons in water, but some of them have them over by the free refills, or the condiments, just in case. Don't usually use those though. They always look a bit old, or not very sanitary.

                I have medical issues, so water is my drink of choice/necessity. I may have tea once in awhile, but mostly it's water. Here lately, though, they have been cutting back on lemon, and if you want it you have to ask for it. And I agree, I like the taste of Houston water! But I still have a filter in my fridge for the water and ice, and you would be amazed at the gunk that comes out of it!

                1. re: danhole

                  Ha, ha. Sometimes I feel really dumb. I've seen the lemons at the condiments bars but never considered it for water! Don't use it for iced tea, either. Ordering iced tea in most Houston restos is like asking for colored water, anyway. I like it strong and I seldom get it.

                  I didn't need to read that about the filters. I wonder if it's too late to get a letter in to Santa?

                  1. re: brucesw

                    Sorry to burst your bubble! It wasn't until my DH started working at a filtration company that I found out what all was in the water, but even so, it is a lot better than most large cities. Look at all the posts on this thread where they say the lemon is added to cover the bad taste of the water!

            2. I'm in CA, SF Bay Area. I would say about 1/4 restaurants here serve ice water with lemon. I prefer without, but my wife loves it.

              1. In NYC, Brooklyn to be exact I've only seen fruit (not just lemon) in iced water at a place called Prima Pasta. I haven't seen it since.

                I usually ask for lemon or lime with club soda/seltzer when at a bar/restaurant when I don't feel like alcohol.

                1. What I'm trying to get at is a cultural expectation...not merely personal preference; that you're somehow being jilted if your plain ice water doesn't "come with." Personally, I don't care if you request your water garnished with sriracha and passion fruit...it's this apprehension that plain water isn't "good" enough, or, that it's being "fancied up" by the addition of lemon. I totally understand the flavored water/diet perception...no issue there. I lived in Houston half of my life, and unlike another commenting on this thread, never experienced the lemon "with." I'm now wondering if there isn't a, pardon the pun, "filtering down" of regional affectations mixed with the predilections of the Rachaeeayl Raiyz of the media; such that "lemon with" is becoming the standard.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: aelph

                    I agree with your point about it being "fancied up" and not something you found around here even 10 years ago. It used to be that the only lemon slice on the table was in the fingerbowl, not in your ice water. I just happen to welcome it, but can do without! No real expectations about lemon slices! Now, it makes me wonder where did that start?

                    1. re: danhole

                      It strikes me as being an old notion of "fancying up."

                      Nowadays, good water -- good, filtered water, good tap water -- is prized for its purity and NEUTRALITY.

                    2. re: aelph

                      I've never been anywhere where it was expected. However, I've been places and requested it because the water tasted bad - usually it was well water. That includes the SF Bay Area and Alaska.

                    3. having worked in a lot of bars, & restaurants with bars, & restaurants without bars, there was a period of years where the waitstaff would deplete the service bar's garnish trays adding lemon to water glasses (most often for female patrons) whether or not the patron asked for the lemon. now citrus is so expensive that i think it's done much less, & only when specifically requested. when catering wedding buffets there would always be lemon garnishes on the water glasses, perhaps to distract from the plain water being served. many latin restaurants and thai restaurants serve water from pitchers with lime in them. although i think the lemon with water thing is somewhat passe, certainly not "becoming the standard" as you say, you can't really deny the original premise: to cover the bad taste that the tap water in some municipalities has-- does your grandmother in-law have bad-tasting tap water at home? since rachel ray is from ny and worked for many years in nyc, i don't get her insistence on lemon in her water, nyc water tastes great. i think that RR asking for lemon in her water when she's at a small mom & pop restaurant rather than a *bar* is just another indication that she's pretty clueless about how restaurants actually work-- "huh? there's no garnish tray for my freebie water? and can i get a to-go cup with that?"

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: soupkitten

                        "to cover the bad taste" is an interesting idea...I don't think her small town tap water tastes bad at all...but, then, I know there are farms in the area relying on skunky wells...such that even Brita doesn't quite get the job done. So...it could be the assumption that everyone's tapwater has to taste bad... She's in her 80's so she can do just about whatever she pleases; gramma wants a well-done steak and a dragonfruit Vitaminwater? Go for it!

                        1. re: soupkitten

                          I think most female patrons (me) may opt for the lemon because it is supposed to be a diuretic of sorts.

                          My mom's friend brings with her 5 splendas and then asks for two lemons w/ her water and makes her own cheap-o lemonade there at the table. In nice places, too.

                        2. it has to be done in Boca Raton Fl or the customers scream blue murder. Not only that they want extra lemons and then............... they load their water and lemons with a zillion packets of sweetnlow or equal and yippeeeeeeeeee, they make 'free' Boca Lemonade.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: smartie

                            Even in New England we call it a Boca Cocktail. Guess the snowbirds bring it back with them once winter ends. :)

                            1. re: smartie

                              Too funny!! My Sister-in-law pulled this little stunt at dinner with my side of the family at a Chinese resto, and we all were stunned to hear her explain how "everyone in South Carolina" drank ice-water with lemon and SweetNLow. She made it sound like it was a wonderfully delicious treat that you HAD to try! My mother about hid under the table..(my husband now calls the drink white-trash tea!)

                              I personally like lemon in my water, here in Las Vegas it's done about 50% of the places I seem to frequent. My hubby -hates- it, tho- he also thinks it's just a way to make the terrible water we get from Lake Mead (ala rocket-fuel water) not taste completely horrid. He just hates the taste of lemon, and allways gives me his slice. More for me!

                              1. re: smartie

                                I've always heard it called "redneck lemonade."

                                I'm in St Peterburg, FL (once known as "God's Waiting Room"); lemon served with water is quite common. I never ask for it unless the water tastes bad.

                                1. re: smartie

                                  OMG! My teenage son does the same thing. He orders water with ice and a "side" of lemon wedges. He squeezes all the lemons and adds sugar to his water! He just loves it! I don't think he's cheap (I'm paying) but he loves the tartness. Wait until I tell him to visit his chums in Boca Raton.

                                2. I always got lemon in my water when I lived in the Northeast- but here in NOLA I don't see it as much...

                                  I did, however, get water once with lemon and a cucumber slice which has now become my favorite "soft" drink after club soda and bitters

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: chef4hire

                                    I noticed it much more when I am working up north - not something I see regularly here in VA.

                                    Club soda with bitters sounds yummy - I'll have to try it.

                                    1. re: jeanmarieok

                                      just a splash- should be pinkish- angostura or peychauds bitters both work well

                                      1. re: chef4hire

                                        I don't like the whole lemon in ice water thing. If I ask for water, I want water. If I want weak, sour lemonade, I'll ask for it.

                                        1. re: ekammin

                                          Exactly! Couldn't have phrased it better myself.

                                  2. I grew up on the East Coast (PA, NY) and I usually expect lemon with my water. I didn't realize that it wasn't a common thing?? Usually if it isn't provided, I'll ask if I can have a wedge, but I rarely remember having to ask.

                                    1. well the original thread started in toronto and i will say that it is not common to get a wedge of citrus with your water here/there, however it does sometimes happen and for the most part i'm surprised. sometimes i actually want the wedge because i don't want the sugary juice they use mostly for cocktails or an alcoholic beverage and it's a good compromise for my personal taste.

                                      i've never been changed for asking for or receiving without asking for a bit of citrus.

                                      one place here puts melon slices into the water and it is amazingly fragrant. they operate as a tea house and i think it's just a sort of relaxed spa-type atmosphere they're trying to promote.

                                      1. New Jersey / Philly area. It's not uncommon here to be served water with lemon at any level of restaurant.

                                        1. If someone orders water with lemon the first thing that comes to mind is cheapskate. Restaurants depend on the revenue generated from drink sales.
                                          I usually find the couples who come in and ask for the boca cocktail are going to split an entree and leave little to no tip.

                                          I figure I could spend about $500 a year just providing free lemons to these people.
                                          But I don't. :o)

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: Barbecue Joe

                                            Might rethink your chosen profession if providing a lemon slice is doing you in. If a restaurant were to begrudge me a lemon slice the first thing that comes to mind is definitely cheapskate.

                                            1. re: Barbecue Joe

                                              Barbecue Joe...Tsk...Tsk...
                                              I'd have to agree with elgordoboy. First of all. If you're in the business you know the markup on non alcoholic beverages is obscene. If it wasn't, the chains wouldn't be giving free refills. Secondly, don't be so quick to assume that the couples who come in are 'cheapskates.' For all you know, many may be on fixed incomes or have health/dietary restrictions that factor into their menu choices. Your grandparents or parents may be doing the very same thing. If you don't want people to share entrees, by all means post a hefty plate sharing charge equal to the cost of your lowest priced entree. If you resent giving a lemon slice to your patrons then post a charge for lemon as well, but don't assume everyone asking for lemon is a freeloading cheapskate.
                                              I would request lemon for my water regardless of whether I'd be spending $20, $200, or $2,000.

                                              1. re: Tay

                                                Allow me to recant Tay. I don't mind giving lemon with water when requested. I realize some have diet restrictions, and some have fixed incomes. But it's those who pull up in a hummer or Lexus, ask for water with extra lemons, and then attack the sugar or sweet and low.
                                                I've never actually seen it, but it reminds me of the hot bowl of water-ketchup condiment soup with the free crackers..............

                                                1. re: Barbecue Joe

                                                  Hehe...I did that as a broke college student back in the day; for special occasions I would add those little buckets of half & half for cream of tomato!! Hey it wasn't pretty but it beat dumpster diving!!

                                              2. re: Barbecue Joe

                                                I don't ask for lemon unless the water tastes off, but I frequently order just water for my beverage. I'd be happy to order a beverage from you if there was something there was something I could have.

                                                I am ridiculously sensitive to caffeine - I can't have cola, tea or even decaf coffee after 3pm if I want to sleep at night. I don't want to drink alcohol if I have to drive and sugary drinks make my blood glucose levels bounce like a super-ball. I think that leaves milk and water for me to choose from. Even restaurants with ten or 12 soda taps usually offer cola as the only sugar free option and syrupy lemonade as a second caffeine free alternative to white soda. Water is what I usually end up with.

                                                I'm perfectly happy to lay down a significant chunk of change for a good meal, even when I'm dining alone. Women dining alone seem to have a bad rep as poor tippers, but I'm generally going to tip 20% or more. If I left you only 15% maybe it's because your service reflected the thought that I was a cheapskate based on my drink order.

                                              3. I live in DeLand, Florida. Most of the restaurants I frequent either automatically put a lemon wedge in the ice water or ask if I want it. I never thought of it as snobbish or anything like that. I just thought it was to add a little flavor, especially if you drink a lot of water every day.

                                                1. It's common in my part of the Florida Panhandle, and seem to show up in the water glasses at the majority of places we regularly eat at. I think it's a combination of the tap water not tasting great, even if it's filtered, and the restuarant figuring that they already cut up huge volumes of lemon for iced tea every day anyways, so what's a few more?

                                                  1. jfood has seen this on occassion over the years and when he sees it he is happy and is never disappointed at all when not because it is never expected.

                                                    Over the last year when lemons went for 5-10 cent each to 75-100 each then he would be surprised if he saw this. When jfood orders his normal club soda in a bar, they always ask, never accepted, since it's no biggie for jfood.

                                                    so if it happens, great; if it does not happen, great.

                                                    1. It is pretty common to get a lemon wedge with your water here in Baton Rouge. I enjoy it, particularly when the weather is hot. However, I agree with some of the earlier posters that fashioning your own drink from lemons and table sweeteners is both messy and classless. I dont expect or demand a lemon wedge, but it sure is nice. The argument from expense is being stretched a bit though. I own a bar and buy lemons by the case. I have not looked at the receipts from the produce company in the last month or two but I don't think the cost is higher than $30. There are around 100 lemons in a case (maybe more) and you get about 8 slices out of a lemon. So, that makes each slice cost $.0375. A small price to pay to keep your customers happy.

                                                      1. I first saw it back in the late '80s in the nicer restaurants and country clubs back home in central PA. It was, as another mentioned, a way of fancying up the water/table. Like, "we don't just serve plain old water here... no, no... we have goblets of iced water garnished w/ fresh lemon".

                                                        It seems rather passe now though. Today it's, "Would like sparkling, spring or tap?" which has always irritated me. As if you're some sort of cheapskate because you want tap water.

                                                        FYI, I've seen it both in PA and they still do it in NC where I've lived for many years. So, I really think it's been widespread and more about fancying up the water as opposed to being an ethnic or regional thing.

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: lynnlato

                                                          Barbecue Joe is not the first waitstaff I've heard comment re "Boca Cocktail". We were in a restaurant during the summer when they have special lower cost menus. A table of 12 came in and all ordered Boca Cocktails. The waiter told us that they get together at someone's house and have a cocktail before going out and then just order water at the restaurant to avoid the cost. I think he was amused because they were all from a very upscale country club community.

                                                          1. re: Linda VH

                                                            Here in PA I often get asked if I'd like lemon with my water. Like some I've never really thought much of it.

                                                          2. re: lynnlato

                                                            I agree with "As if you're some sort of cheapskate because you want tap water". I don't like sparkling water. I do like still water. It's not the price, it's just that I don't like bubbles in my water! If I want carbonation I'll order a Coke. :-)

                                                          3. Here on the East coast specifically the NY metro area I sometimes see places serving lemon with their water. I think it tends to happen at "business lunch" or "ladies who lunch" type places. Also I think I encounter it more in Westchester than I do in CT or NYC. I don't think it's so much a regional thing, but maybe customer preference.
                                                            For example, do some places serve it because most patrons end up requesting lemon with their water if not served a slice?

                                                            1. we live in the Philadelphia area and I can't think of one resto we eat in that does not put lemon slice/wedge/chunk in our water. i hate it, but never remember to ask for it without. this is also common in upstate NY where my mother lives - always lemon in the water.

                                                              1. I grew up in California and lemon in water is a popular option at nice restaurants and bars as it is a healthier way to drink water. The lemon supposedly improves digestion.

                                                                1. i think it's interesting that this is still going on so much on the coasts, when the op thought it was a midwestern thing-- i certainly haven't noticed automatic lemon-water syndrome for a good decade-15 years, and a lot of people's consciousness about non-local foods (lemons shipped from FL or CA)-- you just rarely see anyone asking for a lemon in their water in a nice midwestern restaurant these days-- and when they do, chances are they're a snowbird, or from NY or CA. it's passe in MSP where i am-- and kinda on the verge of being considered boorish, or at least very old-fashioned and fussy.

                                                                  12 Replies
                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                    I find that so odd. Why would anyone spend time considering if lemon in water is 'passe'? I live in NYC and i'm fairly sure no one would consider me boorish or old fashioned or fussy. Not that i'm particularly 'cool' but I'm certainly not an oaf nor am I a snowbird. I ask for either lemon or an orange slice with my water because I like it. Much like some people prefer their martinis dirty. Lemon is also helpful for both digestion and as a natural diuretic. If that's passe in the fly-over states, so be it.

                                                                    1. re: krissywats

                                                                      Agree with you. I also like a slice of cucumber in my water nowadays, but find that even more odd to ask for in a restaurant, so I just do it at home or when I am lucky enough to go to a spa that offers it to me this way.

                                                                      1. re: justagthing

                                                                        I haven't tried cucumber but am seriously considering it after reading about it several times in this post. One person mentioned lemon and cucumber which sounds lovely to me.

                                                                        1. re: krissywats

                                                                          orange slice and cucumber work really well too, and I do limes now, as I got tired of lemons

                                                                          1. re: krissywats

                                                                            Cucumber in a gin & tonic is really good.

                                                                            1. re: SweetPea

                                                                              Especially in Hendricks gin!!

                                                                        2. re: krissywats

                                                                          And I think it's a cleanser in your bloodstream and your liver will thank you. I order water with lemon and no ice but sometimes bottled water because chlorine interferes with homeopathic remedies.

                                                                          1. re: krissywats

                                                                            well, restaurant owners spend time considering if lemon in water is passe. (people tend to notice details when it's their livelihood, whether other people consider it silly/trivial or not) i also notice on the rare occasions when i'm served water w/ lemon w/o request. it never happens in nice restaurants around here. i do like water w lemon, lime, cucumber, even celery in it & frequently drink water this way at work. not something i'd do while dining in a restaurant, it would be a mis-cue to the waitstaff. might do it if drinking water while sitting at a bar. as i said, the lack of lemon in water is due to awareness of local foods issues in my area, not because people don't like the flavor/other benefits.

                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                              that's very interesting. In NYC if I go to a spa I'm always going to get lemon in water - or whatever you want. The "weirder" the more forward thinking! right? (kidding) I used to wait tables at a fairly nice place in Indianapolis and whether water was served with lemon was sort of up to the server. Some servers added it to every glass, I always asked, others only did it if they were asked. I do think it is silly on the part of any restaurant or server to decide someone is 'passe' because they like a little lemon with their water - maybe they are just from NY?

                                                                              What local food issues would lead people to stop asking for lemon in their water, out of curiosity?

                                                                              1. re: krissywats

                                                                                servers *do* assume the customer is from out of town, probably NY or cali, when they request lemon in water around here :) i was just saying it's passe for a server to automatically put lemon in a customer's water glass, 'round here, not that the customer is necessarily passe if s/he asks for lemon. at the spa or aveda/salon, cucumber-water is very popular.

                                                                                citrus is shipped from fla or cali, so for the more dining public around here, (esp at the fine dining end) who tend to be at least somewhat into the locovore movement, lemon garnish in water has taken on a political weight. everyone is trying to reduce their personal carbon footprint & eat local foods. this is not to say people in the midwest never eat citrus/foods made from citrus, just that these garnishes have been falling out of favor for some time. the perception is not the same in cali or fla, where citrus is a local product, or in ny/nyc, where there is little knowledge of & considerable resistance to locovore issues/there is very little local food available/everything is shipped in "anyway." if i were visiting these areas & got a lemon in my water i would "do in rome," but i have noticed a marked decrease in customer demand for lemon in water in this region from when i started in the hospitality industry over 15 years ago-- it's part of my job, since now i'm the boss, do the produce order, & keep up with local food issues & customer concerns. we go through shockingly little fresh citrus in a year, i'd imagine, compared to places of a similar size on the coasts, in fact we often get split cases, or immediately juice/preserve citrus to avoid wastage. i just don't think that happens elsewhere.

                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                  I had a feeling that was the issue. Was just curious if there was something else - some angry lemon mob in the midwest or something.

                                                                                  I'd disagree that ny has little knowledge of eating locally and trying to cut down one's carbon footprint (new yorkers, on average, have 1/3 the carbon footprint of the average american) - I don't know about resistance but carbon footprints and eating locally organic is high priority with my group of friends: here and in Boston.

                                                                                  I think it's great that anyone place is concerned for those reasons.

                                                                                  1. re: krissywats

                                                                                    Angry lemon mob, huh? I think you'd call that a bunch of sourpusses.

                                                                        3. I've lived in the Midwest all my life and never realized lemons in ice water was a Midwestern thing! Not all restaurants serve it but it never occurs to me as strange if someone does.

                                                                          1. expect lemon? never

                                                                            I like it, my husband doesn't (except he knows he's gonna get points when we get lemon because he always gives me his and I love lemon).

                                                                            Unless I am particuarly craving lemon that day, I never think to ask for "water with lemon" though. And certainly can't be bothered getting fussed about it one way or the other.

                                                                            1. I grew up in California, but have lived in Texas for quite a while now. I don't know that my observation is right, but in my experience a lemon slice in ice water is a Mexican thing. I first encountered it in Tijuana many years ago, then in Old Town Mexican restaurants in San Diego. In recent years I encounter it in all sorts of restaurants.

                                                                              Never confused a glass of water with lemon in it with a finger bowl though. I've never had a finger bowl that wasn't a bowl and wasn't on a napkin or doily atop a salad size plate.

                                                                              1. Don't all restaurants have lemons if they serve alcohol? Even the most scummy ones I worked at in Ontario, anywhere that serves alcohol has lemons. I would always add lemons to all ordered glasses of water. Sometimes the person just wants a drink of water and ends up ordering six or seven martinis after that with a steak and lobster dinner. A glass of water doesn't mean the person is necessarily cheap and should be denied lemons. Most people will appreciate the effort. I have had other servers ask me in the past if I knew that I didn't have to put lemons in the water. I secretly hope that my lemons will be appreciated as "wowing" the customers. I use anything that I have access to (toothpicks, lollypops, stickers, mints, crackers, crayons, coasters, orange slices, pickles, olives and other garnishes or extra condiments etc.) to make the guest as comfortable as possible at no extra charge. I have had customers irritated by a long wait time for their food appeased by a small package of crackers and a lollypop while waiting for their food. The manager will not tell me not to give away the soup crackers because its cheaper than him having to give the customer a discount on his meal right? Small children can be entertained with a couple of plastic swords and few maracheno cherries in a ramekin. It is very much appreciated by the parents. I do not waste these items but I do make sure that the guest gets as much as I can get away with giving. Lemons for everyone means bigger tip!

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Cookiepants

                                                                                  Cookie, you sound like a very considerate waiter. You could take care of me and my guests any time.

                                                                                  However, in my experiences, 90% of people ordering water with lemon on an initial cocktail order are getting nothing more and are ordering one of the cheapest menu items. Granted, this was years ago, but I'd be surprised if that percentage has changed much.

                                                                                  I love, love lemons, but I detest lemon-flavored water. If the water is good, it needs nothing else and can stand on its own. If the water is bad, no amount of lemon will mask that.

                                                                                  I like water to taste like, well, water. Matbe that's just me.

                                                                                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                    I agree. I don't like lemons in my water. Water tastes best with no flavor added! Here in NY, a lemon slice usually comes with water if you ask for a glass of water at a restaurant. The other day mine actually came with a slice of lemon AND a slice of lime! I removed both immediately. :-)

                                                                                2. My parents are very specific. Dad wants lemon, Mom does not and woe to the server who gets it wrong. Drives me crazy.

                                                                                  1. I was born and raised in Souther IN and I would say that 90% of the time a lemon wedge was served on the edge of your water glass automatically. I now reside in Southern FL and still find that more often than not water is served with lemon whether or not it's requested.

                                                                                    1. I live in DC/MD and see lemon quite frequently. I in fact have a real lemon pet peeve. I really try to watch my soda consumption as it is a lot of acid for my stomach to take and I only occasionally want an iced tea (for which I definately need a lemon which may be why lemon is also served often in the South as it is already served with tea), so for lunches I normally get still or sparkling water ALWAYS with lemon. I love the taste. I also like water diffused with lime and cucumber like in a spa.

                                                                                      But I really dislike those tiny small slices of lemon because you cannot squeeze them without squirting someone, getting it all over your fingers or none in your glass. I like the wedges best and really enjoy when I get that from a restaurant. I also do not like the lemon already in my water, I like it on the side of the glass or on a plate, if it is thrown in the water, I must fish it out to squeeze it and that isn't very polite. After running cross country for so long plain water just doesn't make me feel refreshed, but water with lemon does the trick.

                                                                                      I don't expect it to automatically be put in or on that could be lemon wasteful, so I always note to my server I would like lemon and will wait to drink it until I get one. But as I said this is a kind of neurotic pet peeve for me.

                                                                                      8 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: ktmoomau

                                                                                        One question - what do you do with the dratted lemon slice while you are trying to drink the water? If you leave it on the edge of the glass, it can fall off, or get into your nose. Or do you take it off and leave it on the table, or on a used dish, if you have one? Do you suck the thing first (otherwise, it's a complete waste)?

                                                                                        The same question applies to a bottle of Mexican beer with a lime wedge stuck into the neck. What do you do with it while you drink the beer?

                                                                                        1. re: ekammin

                                                                                          I put it in the water as it will fall to the bottom of the glass, unless it is a glass with ice and straw then I will use the straw to ease its transition to the bottom of the glass. Yes, see completely neurotic about this, good thing I am not so neurotic about other things like this or I could be on my way to obsessive compulsive.

                                                                                          And I don't drink beer so I don't have the lime dilemma, but you normally see those fizzing once you get them into the beer so I assume they must produce some sort of reaction once you get them down in there. I can't imagine them getting squeezed at the top of the neck would have much effect? I guess most people use their finger to push them down the neck? You may have started a whole new thread.

                                                                                          1. re: ekammin

                                                                                            yeah, the lime wedge goes into the beer - my husband uses his finger to block it off and tips it up so the lime goes to the bottom. I put the lemon from my water in my husband's glass. ;-)

                                                                                            1. re: ekammin

                                                                                              *someone in my family* will grab your lemon garnish and eat it-- peel, seeds and all. tries to do it when the server is off somewhere and nobody's looking. WEIRD!

                                                                                              1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                You have to be extremely careful eating lemons it can really damage your teeth by removing the enamel from them. In water the bad effects are diluted, but eating them is really harmful. (I would eat them if it wouldn't harm my teeth I used to really like them when I was little and my Mother would really yell at me if she caught me eating them)

                                                                                                1. re: ktmoomau

                                                                                                  it's not me, it's someone else! i don't think the rational argument works for an irrational craving, because she has no shame & does this in public! also will eat the core & seeds of apples even though the seeds are poisonous. oh well, she doesn't eat out a lot, and lemon in water is not common here-- she probably gets 3 lemon slices a year, max. i just think its a wacky quirk.

                                                                                                  1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                    What? The seeds of an apple are poisonous? I thought there was something in them that was good for you.

                                                                                                    1. re: SweetPea

                                                                                                      apple seeds have a small amt of cyanide in them, not really enough to harm anyone unless they eat (i believe) over a cup of crushed seeds, but most folks avoid them anyway, it's one of those overreactions people have. is the beneficial chemical the same thing as in grape seeds by any chance?

                                                                                          2. Toronto here. I've seen it fairly often - maybe 20-30% of restaurants. Definitely not the majority.

                                                                                            1. I always ask for lemon in my water and drink it like that at home. I do not like soft drinks, this is my drink of choice if I am not drinking wine. (Try adding lemon slices and a bunch of fresh thyme to a pitcher of water...it is really good.)

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: pesto

                                                                                                I'm with pesto.....I drink water at home with a lemon wedge, just as a matter of preference. Since lemons have become soooo expensive, I will even use a bit of the "powdered", unsweetened lemon drink mix in my water(before you gag, the "lemon" one is the ONLY one of the flavors that is NATURAL, so I deem that OK). During the summer, I REALLY prefer bottled water "con gas", though my house water flows freely from a wonderful mountain spring on my property. Usually when eating out, I'll ask for bottled sparkling water with a "twist", again as a matter of preference. LIving in a rural setting, sparkling water is not always available at the run of the mill places. I have no reservation about requesting a lemon wedge if it's not offered. I am neither cheap in my menu choices, my drink preferences, nor in tipping. I've never thought of it before, since I've never been a waitperson, but I'd probably be pretty PO'd if twelve blue hairs sat at my table, all ordered tap with lemon and the cheapest thing on the menu on a consistent basis....even then, they'd probably insist on "splitting" dishes. That's prolly why I've never been a waitperson.....I'd take down one of those pumped up do's in a flat second, get NO tip, and be fired. My hat is generally off to waitpersons.....what a helluva job! I generally "overtip" everyone unless the service is absolutely horrendous, and perceive the waiter as part of the problem, all of the problem, or just stupidly standing by.

                                                                                              2. I work at a nice steakhouse. It's not fancy, but it's not cheap. In my experience about 90% of our African American guests will ask for water with lemon (when drinking water.) The last party I had that did this asked for extra lemon, so I brought them a small plate of lemon wedges and they were very happy with that.

                                                                                                1. It's pretty common in north Dallas. Maybe half of the restaurants I go to will put a lemon slice in the water or on the glass. I actually kinda like it, I put it in the water...adds a tiny acidic quality to the water imo. And maybe I am just cheap but I don't always want to spend $10 on a glass of wine or tea that I don't need.

                                                                                                  1. I live in NC, and every restaurant I am in serves lemon in ice water, and my husband hates it too. He specifically asks for "no lemon" and sometimes they put lemon in there anyway. Restaurants such as the local mexican place, Chili's, Applebee's. I didn't know it was a regional thing, I don't remember what it was like in CA, where I am from. I just made note of it now b/c my husband complains about it. He thinks they do it to mask the bad taste of their water, so he gets it without lemon to taste if the water is bad.

                                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                                    1. re: loveleap

                                                                                                      Most of the places in and around San Antonio I have been to put lemon in your glass.I like it,but a friend of mine doesn't.So Nancy will give me the lemon wedges from her water or tea BEFORE she drinks it.She doesn't care for lemons,period.

                                                                                                    2. It's very common in Phoenix, where the tap water tastes pretty horrible. At upscale restaurants, they just ask what kind of bottled water you want!

                                                                                                      1. It all depends upon how bad-tasting the tap water is.

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: zin1953

                                                                                                          Unfortunately, lemon doesn't fix the taste in Phoenix!

                                                                                                        2. Back when I was in college, about 20 yrs ago, I was always run down and getting colds. My dr. suggested I drink more water. Since I wasn't much of a water drinker, and was working as a server at the time, I thought about adding lime or lemon to my water to make it taste better and then I eventually got hooked on water and now that's all I drink! As for restaurants, I live in Calif., and almost all fine dining places serve lemon in the water. They've been doing this for as long as I can remember.

                                                                                                          1. Maybe the lemon-in-ice-water thing is popular in places where the water doesn't have the best taste when plain?

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                                                                                                            1. re: DanaB

                                                                                                              Then that would exclude NY from adding lemon, however, from what I understand NY is among the best tap water in the states.Many places here still put lemon in their water. I think it relates to be being used to having it done at spas.

                                                                                                            2. I ask for lemon in my water and almost always add artificial sweetener when I dine out for several reasons. I'm diabetic. My choices are limited to unsweetened ice tea (nope, can't handle the caffeine in the evening), diet soda (nope, most often a cola product-see caffeine-and carbonated beverages give me severe, whiplash-like hiccups). Beers, cocktails, wines and fruit juices are right out when calculating the amount of carbs I can have for dinner. I'd rather eat than waste carbs on a drink. If I ask for iced decaf coffee I get told they don't have it or I get worse looks from wait staff who will grudgingly pour decaf over ice in a glass for me than when I ask for lemon in my water. So please, waitstaff types, if you think someone is being cheap because you see them drinking a "boca whatever you call it" think again. Your restaurant may not offer an alternative that someone with diabetes or caffeine/carbonation sensitivity can drink. Trust me, if you'll make me that iced decaf without a sneer or cheerfully bring me citrus with my water, I'll happily tip more. Sometimes I just want a little more variety than plain water.

                                                                                                              1. I like it as a garnish but don't need it or ask for it; a well cut lemon slice in the bottom of a nice clear glass with ice is a nice detail that adds a bit of color. That said, the lemon slice on the rim seems a bit dated, as does someone asking for 'ice water with lemon' specifically--nothing wrong with it, per se, just..dated.

                                                                                                                Still, why not add the garnish? lemons are quite cheap.

                                                                                                                1. Love lemon in water. Very common in Los Angeles in most restaurants where we eat. It's also very healthy. I always appreciate the lemon - lemons are very expensive right now, and right now the meyer lemons are delicious. Instead of hot tea or coffee after dinner, we drink hot water and lemon, even at home.

                                                                                                                  1. If they say that the lemon is to remove water tastes, I immediately know the restaurant is too cheep to install proper water filtration, if, indeed there is actually a problem. I try to take a quick look around as I walk in to my table and see if they are serving weak, sour lemonade and specifically ask for no lemon. Lemon in the water is right up there with cigarette smoke as my least liked items dining out.

                                                                                                                    1. Here's something to think about the next time you order any drink w/lemon/citrus in it.
                                                                                                                      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23355862/

                                                                                                                      6 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: louweezy

                                                                                                                        The same could be said for that salad you're eating. I don't intend to give up either when I eat out.

                                                                                                                        1. re: louweezy

                                                                                                                          I was wondering if someone would mention that bit of hogwash...I think they said they found E. coli in the lemon slices? usually the lemons are cut behind the bar - no raw meat there - I think someone in the lab got mixed up. I tried to duplicate the results from places in CT and couldn't.

                                                                                                                          1. re: PaulaT

                                                                                                                            Paula, that is REALLY good to know. The problem with this study is it was one person, an assistant professor, and who knows what her credentials really are. Maybe she is just trying to get some publicity. Even so, I now squeeze the lemon juice in my water and put the peel off to the side, just in case. Hmm, perhaps that is foolish seeing that I have never gotten sick from water (scratching head at this point)!

                                                                                                                            1. re: PaulaT

                                                                                                                              You don't need raw meat to contaminate the lemons with e. coli. Isn't E.coli found in the lower intestine's of warm blooded animals? Aren't bartenders and barbacks warm blooded animals? Use your imagination.

                                                                                                                            2. re: louweezy

                                                                                                                              Scrub em real well. I use soap for vegetables and a brush to clean all citrus. It doesn't take much imagination to consider all the bare hands that have handled the fruit. Our food system is pretty dirty so when I can, I wash things well.

                                                                                                                              1. re: ElsieB

                                                                                                                                All I can say to all this is I grew up on a farm eating all sorts of germs and who knows what and am fine. While fiance with the uber germ obsessed mother gets sick all the time and has allergies. A little dirt and grime goes a long way in my book. I would be more worried about the salad, spinach, especially bagged stuff. Plus hasn't anyone watched shows on how lemons are processed like the history channel or food network shows they are normally washed and stuff so unless they are getting them locally...

                                                                                                                            3. I lived in Houston for most of my life and recently moved to Chicago. I have seen plenty of placed in Houston add a lemon slice do their water. The lemon taste cuts out the tap water taste in Houston at least. I do not think its a regional phenomenon

                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: mai_world

                                                                                                                                NW Washington state here. Lemon is rare here. I like the flavor myself (for me, sour piques my appetite and is refreshing) but I'm sort of turned off by the notion of eating the exterior of conventionally grown (read: plenty of fungicides, etc) fruit.

                                                                                                                                1. re: Vetter

                                                                                                                                  When I use to live in the Seattle area, I always ordered lemon or lime with my water.