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Lunch at Thuet- not given option of ice water [moved from Ontario board]

Had Lunch here today...Waiter asked would it be flat or sparkling water...answer flat....weren't given the option of ice water...a bottle of flat water came Waiter poured...only half finished bottle at end of meal...Bill charged $6.00 for the Water....I hate it when that happens...I was going to make Reservations for there this Sunday Brunch...changed my mind...I forgot about this ruse and have eaten there many times....remember...ice water is free....Miranda

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  1. Damn, I hate when that happens!!! Not nice.

    1. I agree with you, however, I have learned that when I am asked in an upscale restaurant if I want flat or sparkling, I have to specify tap. Might not be right, but it's commonplace. If you like the food, I would give them another shot.

      4 Replies
        1. re: pescatarian

          Hum... I know what might happen (sometimes) in the kitchen when a client orders tap water without ordering some fancy drinks or some wine to go with the meal. I leave that to your imagination.

          1. re: lamaranthe

            You clearly live in a much more jaded world than I do. We're not talking about sending an order back to the kitchen or insulting the cooks in the kitchen. We're talking about a drink order. I am quite aware of what goes on in kitchens and I honestly can't imagine any that I know of sabotoging a diner's food over a drink order, or lack thereof.

            This whole thread is hilarious, IMO, we're talking about how the server took drink orders. There's no suggestion here that there was any serious breach in service.
            Honestly, I think these restaurants are better off without customers who are so put off by such matters. They have customers who do not make such a fuss about these things.

            1. re: pescatarian

              I'm with you, Pescatarian. Ordering tap water is not going to send an overworked kitchen staff into a revenge-driven tizzy. In addition, clarifying what kind of still water one wold like (tap) isn't exactly a taxing demand placed on a customer.

              Perhaps I'm missing the 'what constitutes suitable dining' gene, but 'tap will be fine' is a sentence that has never caused me much trouble-- in saying or in the fall out. (Although, in some places, tap really isn't that fine; as a child I lived somewhere where the tap water was the subject of a dare at restaurants.)

              There are sneaky upselling strategies to be sure, but this one? Just not fussed, I suppose. Go figure.

        2. Unacceptable. Thuet's is living on its doubtful reputation. They should watch the competition.

          1. Gimme a break, it’s a lowhanded cash grab that higher end restaurants should be above doing, yet for some reason own a monopoly on. Who offers a choice of flat or sparkling water as a default to starting a meal?! Come on. It’s a rotten thing to do to people who are already paying very good money for what is supposed to be good food and honest, helpful service. It’s such a blatant and sneaky thing to do it’s sickening.

            28 Replies
            1. re: magic

              I'm sorry magic, but I totally disagree. It's perhaps a restaurant short-hand but it's not sneaky.

              What the heck is wrong with just saying "tap is fine" when asked "flat or sparkling"?

              1. re: orangewasabi

                Because many people assume flat means tap. It's damn sneaky, and that is why it is pervasive. Cuz it works.

                1. re: magic

                  It works because people don't have the nads to say "tap's fine" if that's what they want, not because the rare person who's eating in one of these higher end restaurants for the first time mistakes flat for tap.

                  To say nothing of chances that the majority of the diners in these restaurants actually buy bottled water by the case because they actually prefer bottled water (for some odd reason).

                  1. re: magic

                    I don't assume flat means tap, I say "tap is fine" everytime I'd rather spend the money on food or drinks (chic or cheap? I don't really care...)...so if it is a concern to the diner, you are making the same assumption they would be by not mentioning you're ok with tap...

                    1. re: Recyclor

                      You don’t assume that. But lotsa people do. Thus the reason for this thread to begin with. It’s not like Miranda was the first to make that mistake. TONS of people, naively make this mistake at least once and then learn. Which is sad, cuz ordering should not be a game of cost evasion – it should be assisted by servers. Especially at places like Thuet. Or wherever.

                      In fact, let’s just pre-empt all those who know the difference between flat and tap water. This issue isn’t about that, and I think people are missing an important point. Which is that misleading customers, even in a minor or passive way, is wrong. Still not sure why some people don’t see this as really disturbing. Who cares if you know the difference between flat and tap!! Many DON’T.

                      1. re: magic

                        I don't recall, but I probally learned the tap or flat difference through experience, I also don't remember being upset by it...even at McDonalds you specify if you want a cup of (free) water or (pay for) a bottle...in resto's that are presenting themselves as a high-end experiences, diners should expect to be immersed into that world by choosing to come, if they want to be accomodated certain ways they can make requests, I assume all the wines and ingredients in the food are "the good stuff" why would they opt to offer anything else of lower quality?..I appreciate the option though since I take it, but, if the service was noticably poor due to making such a choice as drinking tap water the tip would reflect it, and THAT might get them on my black list...

                        1. re: Recyclor

                          That's a good point but to me the difference is McDonald's isn't inviting you to potenitally make the wrong choice.

                          The difference is the context. And I think when higher end places that pride themselves on customer service initiate a policy of customer trickery at an insane profit, the context is changed. It’s not really the same thing. I agree that customers should always be aware of what they are buying but McDonald’s doesn’t offer you the choice in quite the same way that these other establishments do.

                          1. re: magic

                            "That's a good point but to me the difference is McDonald's isn't inviting you to potenitally make the wrong choice."

                            How are they not doing the same thing? They don't list tap is free, you only know to correct the error cuz your food is slapped on a tray while you order, if you asked for water with a combo and they had table service you'd probally get a bottle...if you are too ashamed to correct it, you need to get over yourself...I expect a high-end experience through all the details of the dinner at a place like Thuet, to deviate from it by wanting tap water is on me, and thus I better be prepared to speak up or put up...

                          2. re: Recyclor

                            The bottled stuff is not necessarily the "good stuff". I'll sometimes order sparkling water, or try a bottle of an unusual flat mineral water. Usually I order tap. But I'm not embarrassed about a server deciding I'm cheap. And I will tip less if the service sucks.

                            Test after test (and even the odd study) shows that most bottled waters don't taste better than tap water and are not cleaner or safer than tap water. And much bottled water comes in plastic bottles that leach chemicals into the water, giving odd tastes and causing who knows what future problems. I taste these chemicals and I won't drink these waters if I can avoid them.

                            Not long ago, restaurant trade mags were touting the profit potential of bottled water. "Water sommeliers" were starting to appear. I don't think many of these folks lasted very long. Because most bottled water isn't better than the stuff from the tap. (If I happened to live in Bellville ON or Rockford IL, I might feel differently.)

                    2. re: orangewasabi

                      sorry, Magic, I disagree with you on this one too. Of course, they are trying to get you to get the bottled water. I've been to enough places where this is commonplace. To me if a waiter asked me if I wanted flat or bubbly/sparkling, I would assume they were referring to bottled. "Flat" does not refer to tap water in these restaurants. It might take a couple visits to learn this, but once you do, you learn to ask for tap water if that's what you want. Not a big deal. If they were rude to me if I requested tap water, that would be a whole other matter. Also, if I meant tap water, I would have mentioned it after they brought the bottled water to the table. Once it's opened, of course you're going to pay for the whole bottle.

                      1. re: pescatarian

                        When someone is paying $200 upwards for a meal I don't even want a whiff of underhandedness. It is unacceptable and wrong and not as rare as some believe, and I'm not sure advocating consumer responsibility makes it all ok, pescatarian.

                        If servers were to add 'tap water' as a choice that would be fine with me. But they don't. And the reason they don't is most people will of course choose tap. And they won't make a beverage sale. It's so transparently obvious I'm not sure why paying customers would defend this practise.

                        And it's not a nads issue, orangewasabi. It's about treating customers with respect.

                        1. re: magic

                          I guess I don't consider it underhandedness. I consider it part of being in business. The practice of asking if you want flat or bubbly is not rare, I agree. Underhandedness? I thinking that's stretching it.
                          As an educated customer, if I don't want to pay for a bottle of water, I consider it my responsibility to ask for tap if that's what I want.

                          1. re: magic

                            "And the reason they don't is most people will of course choose tap. "

                            I beg to disagree. I work in a restaurant with decent tap water. The waiters are instructed to ask "sparkling, spring or tap?". We sell bottled water to 71% of our guests. "Most" of our guests choose bottled.

                        2. re: orangewasabi

                          It sure is sneaky! And it's done because it works. It's an issue mainly at high end restaurants primarily because, at less lofty venues, people who want bottled water must order it explicitly.

                          I haven't met many people who mistook "sparkling or flat" to mean sparkling or tap. However, I have met many people, including some close friends, who are embarrassed to ask for tap - a reaction I don't understand myself, but see quite often - when given this dual "choice". Some believe they they will be viewed as cheap and will, therefore get lousy service .

                          And many servers who pull this stunt (sometimes because of management policy; sometimes on their own) oblige by giving bad service - sometimes creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and sometimes getting a decent (and possibly undeserved) tip anyway.

                          Twice in the last week, once at a very high end place and once at a more modest one, we were asked "sparkling, flat, or tap?" What the heck is wrong with expecting that of a server? (And, at the high end place, the tap tasted filtered, was served on ice with lemon, and was refilled - without asking - throughout the meal.)

                          1. re: embee

                            Thank you embee, exactly. Well said.

                            1. re: embee

                              But if they don't, and you know better, the customer has to get over the embarrassment of asking for tap. After going to these places a number of times, you should know that if they ask you if you want flat water, they are not referring to tap and shouldn't be surprised, if you agree to the flat water, when they bring a bottle to the table.

                              1. re: pescatarian

                                So people who have never experienced this unwritten 'water' rule and get charged $6 for unwanted water have nothing to gripe about then? Because, as you say, they haven't been exposed to these places a number of times....

                                This is exactly what I'm talking about. This sales strategy isn't aimed at people like us, pescatarian. We all know better. The problem is that many people, indeed most, don't. They learn the hard way. And it is such an obvious ploy and breach of trust I'm not sure it is defendable.

                                1. re: magic

                                  I agree with Magic on this one. I didn't know that water other than sparkling would be a water with charge. (I guess on reflection it does make sense) I would have assumed flat meant tap until this thread. Luckily I haven't been caught with a $6 to "teach me a lesson" and I thank all of you for informing or the flat vs sparkling terminology

                                  1. re: magic

                                    At those places which ask only if we would like "tap or sparkling water" I have taken to replying "free water will be fine, thanks"

                                    1. re: magic

                                      But even if you didn't know and you thought you were asking for tap - as soon as you saw them bring bottled and start pouring, wouldn't you say something? I would!!
                                      And, btw, I drink tap all the time. I prefer it. It's regulated. Has nothing to do with being cheap.

                                      1. re: pescatarian

                                        Of course I'd send it back. But to me that's not the issue. The issue is they should not be doing this to begin with.

                                        1. re: magic

                                          Yes, but they do. All of them do. So should we hold such a small matter against them if it's standard practice and you enjoy the food and the service is otherwise pleasant? Do you think if we all revolt, it will make a difference?

                                          1. re: pescatarian

                                            Haha, I don’t think revolt is necessary but I still think it’s wrong. And yes, I think if something like this were reported to a regulating body it might be looked into. That said, I don’t think it’s cause for legal action. I just don’t like it and think it’s wrong, particularly for restaurants where you pay for good service as well as good food. And obviously I’m not alone.

                                      2. re: magic

                                        But magic, wouldn't you correct the server before they poured the water? Or would you assume they were giving you a free bottle of water? Perhaps this is a case of miscommunication, waiter asks flat or sparkling thinking bottled water, and customer thinks tap. It is not underhanded, it's actually very common in many restaurants to offer water in this way. Right or wrong is subjective. The point I'm trying to make is the customer should have corrected the server. If I order a steak and I get pasta, I'd correct the mistake.

                                        1. re: magic

                                          the more I think about this, the more annoyed on behalf of the restaurant and servers I am.

                                          This isn't some conspiracy. Servers are there to deliver the items the establishment sells -- not to list off all the free stuff available. As the customer, I am in control of what I want to buy . . . particular if I am asked in advance if I want it.

                                          I must be living on a different planet from you Magic, since I can't remember the last time I had bad service or paid for something in a restaurant I didn't want.

                                          1. re: orangewasabi

                                            The incident itself is trivial. The issue is one of respect. Good service means making customers happy so that they will, hopefully, tip generously and come back. A meal at a good restaurant shouldn't include caveat emptor as part of the experience.

                                      3. re: Recyclor

                                        I can't agree or disagree with with your comment, simply because I've never seen this happen. But I'm sure it probably does:-)

                                        1. re: embee

                                          Harbour Sixty last night asked "sparkling, flat, or tap?" I agree with Magic because I am not naive about restaurant management choices.

                                    2. They're not the only ones doing this... I remember travelling in Europe six years ago and discovering that there were some restaurants that simply wouldn't serve you tap water, even if you asked. Wonder if this will be standard in Toronto sometime.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Full tummy

                                        This has been true in some parts of the world for a very long time. In some places it's the long standing local custom (which it is not, and never has been, in Toronto). In some places it's because the local tap water tastes disgusting and anyone who can afford bottled drinks it, even at home. And in some places it's because you must - because the tap water is not safe.

                                        But Toronto tap water is eminently drinkable. (Full disclosure: our home drinking water is filtered, but it is NOT bottled.)

                                      2. Of course I prefer when tap is offered by the waiter at the outset, but this practice is very common at high end restos and I am never shy to order tap water. I feel sorry for the population who are afraid to drink Toronto water.

                                        1. Flat water is flat water, sparkling water is sparkling water, and tap water is tap water! Any higher end restaurant refers to it that way. That's just how it is, nothing to do with Thuet's way of doing things. Why didn't you correct the mistake before the server poured? And I think you will always be charged for a full bottle even though you only consumed half- it's not like they can re-sell it. I don't think this place should be removed from your list over this small thing. As I've said before, complaints should always be taken up with management face to face, not after the fact here.

                                          1. You're right, sometimes I didn't have the "nads" to request tap water.
                                            But now it's becoming trendy.

                                            Eat local, drink local water...
                                            No plastic bottles in landfills, no transportation pollution, etc...

                                            Alice Waters and Mario Batali are banning bottled water. I think I can quite happily order "local" water from the "tap" and feel a bit smug.

                                            1. Hmm...here's my take on this: if the server is trying to pad his/her check by 6 bucks that's terrible. Is it possible that the server assumed you knew that flat meant bottled and just made an honest mistake? If not though this is pretty shady. Take for example ordering drinks at a bar. If I order a gin and tonic, I assume I'm getting the well gin unless I specify for something different, say Bombay. If, at the end of the night after ordering regular gun and tonics I look at my bill and see I've had Bombay in all of them, my bill will be more expensive but I wouldn't have expected it. In this case I definitely would feel swindeled. If you're sure the server didn't just assume you knew the difference then yep I'd probably not return on principle either.

                                              1. One friend of mine, who has worked in a couple of high end restos, when asking about water, offers the diner(s) "Sparkling, still, or Toronto."

                                                1. For six bucks you got an education (although you had it before; ref the "ruse") and they lost a customer. Drag when that happens.

                                                  1. To me this is a new twist on things, so I think as diners get more educated they will know exactly what is being offered and indicate their preference. No reason to get majorly bent out of shape, although I would have been surprised and a bit annoyed if it happened to me. Fortunately, I have read this helpful thread first! :D

                                                    1. OK, wouldn't cha know, the boss comes in this morning and asks if we want to go for lunch at Thuet...um yup!...so due to this thread of course I'm paying attention to how the water order plays out...the waiter offers sparkling or still, my boss says regular water is fine and he reaches for one of 8 or so chrome ice water jugs at stations around the room, he probally would have gone for a bottle if asked for still, but the option of tap is obvious and if he did go it could have been called off with ease. The fact that tap water is visibly abundant seems like they almost suggest that but point out the fact that it isn't the only option. I don't see a problem with that. I would also like to say, in support of Thuet, I don't believe he is playing some cash grab trick, we ordered one dessert (one for 4 of us cuz the portions were so large we were bursting!..that's no swindle either) but asked for 4 forks, the waiter shows with four forks and 4 plates, places the dessert to be shared in the middle, when the bill comes I asked if there was any splitting sur-charge, another hot debate I've read some resto's are doing, no such charge, so, if Marc was out to gouge he'd be on that one too, IMHO. A great lunch with pleasant service -- I look forward to going back...the only hang up was there was a large xmas office lunch there too and someone kept blowing a whistle, LOUDLY, who does that?...baaahumbug!

                                                      ...oh, and attitude/poor service for ordering tap water? Not a bit...

                                                      1. What the server did was a standard sales technique. Don't ask the customer *if* they want something, ask which version they would like? This leads the customer into the mindset that their options are not 1) to buy or 2) not to buy, since now it's a given they're buying, but just what exactly their purchase will be. While I appreciate that most every salesperson does this, I don't like the idea that servers are being trained in and using such techniques to get me to spend more of my money at restaurants where I want to be treated with a little more respect and appreciation, where I don't want to feel like the server is really a salesperson; I can take it at a fast food chain, when someone asks if I want small or large fries with my order, but I don't need that tension when I'm paying big bucks for a stress-free dinner out.

                                                        5 Replies
                                                        1. re: Full tummy

                                                          When I worked in restaurant and someone would order a liquor drink, I would always ask what brand they wanted. Not because the additional $2 cost of a call liquor would pad the check and give me the extra special added $.30 in tip, but because we had a wide variety to offer and I wanted my customers to get what they want.

                                                          In a higher-end restaurant, the vast majority of diners want bottled water. The server was trying to provide good service.

                                                          1. re: mojoeater

                                                            Aha, but you see the difference is you offered the brand because there is no free liquor. That makes sense. But if someone asks for water, and they're presented with just two options, both of which cost, that's different.

                                                            1. re: Full tummy

                                                              Not really a Smirnoff and a Aboslut may be the same price so asking which they prefer is not a cash grab even though they may up-buy to the Stoli...

                                                              1. re: OnDaGo

                                                                I gathered from what mojoeater was saying was that there was a difference in the price, but that he wasn't asking to pad his/her tip. Anyway, that doesn't address the point I am making, which is that when a waiter offers water, it would just be nicer to offer "sparkling, flat, or tap", as some restaurants do. Leaving tap off is a sales technique, nothing more, nothing less.

                                                                1. re: Full tummy

                                                                  nothing more, nothing less and not a big deal

                                                        2. You didn't say that you asked for tap water and were refused, you said that the two options presented were both bottled. Ya gotta speak up, sometimes.

                                                          1. Don't think that this only happens at upscale restaurants. My wife and I had a late lunch (?early dinner) at 3:30pm at a Casey's (.... yeah - Casey's. Don't make fun. We were starving.) The restaurant was deserted, and we were given the options of "sparkling or still?" Never seen that before in a chain restaurant.

                                                            1. Oh please, give it a rest. If you are offered flat or sparkling you have to realize they are talking bottled water. All you have to do is ask for tap water. The BIG clue is when it comes to the table IN A BOTTLE, you might reasonably assume that it is bottled water. At that point you can still ask to send it back and get tap water. Sheesh!

                                                              7 Replies
                                                                1. re: Ron Carver

                                                                  LOL! If it comes in a bottle, it's probably bottled. LOL again - good point!

                                                                  1. re: Catskillgirl

                                                                    Well, I think this whole debate is a bit silly. This has happened to me many times before, and I just say I want tap if that's what I feel like having. I think it's more incredulous that some restaurants don't give you the option of ordering tap.

                                                                    In response to Ron Carver's post, I've had restaurants bring me tap water in glass bottles. May be a bit strange if you haven't seen it before but I like it.

                                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                      I, too, have had tap water poured from a glass bottle.

                                                                      1. re: Full tummy

                                                                        Do you mean a simple glass carafe/pitcher, or something that looks a little more like branded bottled water?

                                                                        1. re: gps_shag

                                                                          The bottle seemed to be identical to the type that you would buy water in, but there was no label. Am I wrong that they do this at Batifole? It just seems to me that they did this somewhere I had eaten recently, which points to B.

                                                                          1. re: Full tummy

                                                                            Was there on Friday. Tap water in pitcher with cranberries floating in it.

                                                                            Come to think of it they didn't even offer bottled, just poured tap.

                                                                2. i personally don't appreciate only being offered the two choices because in a rushed decision i'll say flat when i mean tap water. i will forget that there is a secret third option, it's like it's a secret menu item and it's only water!

                                                                  but i am also completely confused by being embarassed. i call it regular or ice water and never have to use the word tap. i do watch my server to see the reaction on their face and i must say that they need a little acting school to cover up the falling look i get sometimes.

                                                                  also, i've been to a couple restaurants where tap is just served in glass marked bottles which gives it a nicer atmosphere but a carafe is just as good. i have also had mistakenly ordered bottled water (which i don't like because it usually tastes awful anyway!) and on approach to the table you'll hear the seal tear and preempting for a return seems unthinkable... even though i'll be quite unhappy afterwards.

                                                                  17 Replies
                                                                  1. re: pinstripeprincess

                                                                    Thanks, pinstripeprincess. Well said. Just because some people seem immune, it doesn't mean we all are, and failing to offer "tap" takes advantage of that. It would be nice if the naysayers could just accept that. It's true, it's not a capital crime, but it is a sales approach, and it detracts from the enjoyable time I expect when eating at a "good" restaurant.

                                                                    1. re: Full tummy

                                                                      And it is also a "sales" technique to ask "would you like anything from the bar" and "would you like coffee or dessert" after the meal. Does this also detract from having an enjoyable time at a "good" restaurant?

                                                                        1. re: OnDaGo

                                                                          But asking "Would you like anything from the bar?" is not the equivalent. The equivalent is to ask "Would you like cake, or mousse?" or "Would you prefer Scotch or a martini?" and force the customer to wrest control of the situation from the server in order to reply "Actually, I'd prefer wine" or "I don't want a drink, thanks." And yes, for an unassertive person, being forced to assert oneself and worry that the server considers one an unsophisticated cheapskate detracts from an enjoyable experience. Maybe people who relish the opportunity to display their cojones don't get this, but I do.

                                                                            1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                              Because you were asked whether you would prefer option A or option B. You must then take it upon yourself to say you would actually prefer option C, knowing that they would really rather you chose A or B like they offered in the first place. I know this falls completely under some people's discomfort threshhold. But not everyone's/

                                                                              1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                                                                ...what do these people do if they don't know what a menu item is, or need to ask where the washroom is?...dinner is ruined!?...I'd be surprised if someone who is too timid, ashamed or put out to ask for tap water when a drink order is being taken can be pleased very easily if at all...there is a line between good service and cottling...IMO

                                                                                1. re: Recyclor

                                                                                  Well, you know what? I am pretty darn easily pleased in restaurants. I am perfectly happy to speak up and mention that I would like to order bottled water, or a cocktail, or coffee, if I would in fact like to. What I don't like is to be put in a situation where the restaurant communicates an expectation that I will spend money on water, something that used to be supplied automatically without charge, and I have to tell them that I don't want to. Is that really so very hard to sympathize with?

                                                                                    1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                                                                      (a) yes, in my opinion, because there are worse things to worry about, and
                                                                                      (b) the OP suggested they wouldn't go back to this restaurant because of this practice, even though the service was otherwise fine and the food was good. I think it is a silly reason not to go back. I don't sympathize with someone feeling like they've been prevented from going back and enjoying an otherwise pleasurable experience over such a trivial matter.
                                                                                      It is trivial, no matter how you look at it. If you were talking about a situation where there were many other things that were bothersome and this added to it, it might help add to an undesireable dining experience, but on it's own it's just gotten way too much thread space.

                                                                                      1. re: pescatarian

                                                                                        I wouldn't storm out of a restaurant vowing never to return, just because of this practice. However, it seems entirely reasonable to dislike it.

                                                                                        1. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                                                                          Yes, but the OP and others who responded didn't just say they disliked it. For example, the OP said "they forgot about this ruse" and would have otherwise gone back for Sunday Brunch if not for this practice.

                                                                                      2. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                                                                        I agree Boston. The posters are jaded on this board. I know many people who do not get to restaurants often and they are intimidated. And I know people that are just plain shy. They are afraid to look silly or cheap by asking any questions or countering any suggestions. The waiter preys on this. And if you add to the mix that perhaps it is a younger person on a date, it is no different than the "rose guy" throwing a bouquet in your date's face while asking if you wish to buy a rose "for the lovely lady".

                                                                                        1. re: deelicious

                                                                                          This one for me is a case of "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me". Agreed, wouldn't storm out of the place but wouldn't have kind thoughts towards the restaurant.

                                                                                      3. re: Recyclor

                                                                                        "these people"??? That's a nice way to refer to us. I'm not looking for coddling, just two words "Or tap" would be fine. Is that too hard to understand? If a restaurant has three types of scotch available, and the server only offers the two most expensive when a diner orders scotch, is that right? It's not coddling to offer all three, and it's not good service to fail to.

                                                                                        Admitted, the analogy is a little different, but some of the analogies I've seen thrown out here are far further off the mark, including your extrapolations about "these people"'s ability to deal with other problems.

                                                                                      4. re: BostonCookieMonster

                                                                                        Who cares what the waiter would "rather you choose"? He'd probably prefer you get the Wagyu, but if you want a burger, you order the burger.

                                                                                        It's like some people go out looking for something to complain about.

                                                                                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                          yup, and go figure, a restaurant that would prefer that the customer spend as much money as possible

                                                                            2. I guess the point of all this talk is, in this case with Thuet some people think it is an underhanded scam while others do not, I'm happy that I don't and will enjoy dining regardless in the future, sorry to those who can't cope...the world doesn't always function to my standards either, instigate change or put up with it...

                                                                              1. "a bottle of flat water came Waiter poured"
                                                                                That was the time to say "I just want regular water", if you didn't want the bottled stuff.

                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                1. re: hsk

                                                                                  Don't you understand the OP is a real person and there are thousands and thousands who are the same way. It is not fair to judge the OP for doing and now posting what seems right to them just because you have so much more experience. The OP is the exact target spoken about within some posts on this thread and the OP's posting indicates their true interpretation of the situation ergo a reality (perception) that cannot be disputed.

                                                                                  1. re: deelicious

                                                                                    Please deelicious, we understand, we just think this is making a mountain out of a mole hill.

                                                                                    1. re: pescatarian

                                                                                      It is a mountain out of a mole hill only because everybody wants to tell the OP how wrong they are.

                                                                                      1. re: deelicious

                                                                                        Ok, so camps are divided & that's ok, I think we all see that some people expect one thing while others another...can we shake hands, go for a pint and play another day?

                                                                                        1. re: deelicious

                                                                                          Actually if you read my first response to the OP, I sympathized that she was put off by it, but I expressed my opinion that I don't believe it is a reason not to go back to a place if that was the only problem (in her mind). It's the OPs choice whether they choose not to go based on that reason. But she posted a thread asking our opinions, so we are doing just that. Doesn't mean we don't get it, if we don't agree with her. And it's one thing to say it's something you don't agree with (the practice of asking if you want bubbly or flat) and it's another thing to go on like it's a criminal offence. In my opinion, that's just silly.

                                                                                          1. re: pescatarian

                                                                                            Just so you know pesc, I totally agree with what you wrote.

                                                                                            The OP and other readers can certainly benefit by reading that the majority of us do not see this as a criminal offence worthy of writing off the resto. That being said, I feel it would be great if waiters wouldn't use such tactics.

                                                                                            I just think it is unfair to deny people the reality of being too shy or inexperienced.

                                                                                            1. re: deelicious

                                                                                              I can accept that. But they shouldn't let their shyness prevent them from enjoying great food ;-)

                                                                                  2. Despite being experienced restaurant goers, we experienced this at Perigee in Toronto a couple of years back. Being from the US and never having heard the “sparkling or flat” wording, we assumed “flat” was the Canadian term for “tap.” When he brought the bottle, we realized we were not getting tap, but as we were hosting friends, we felt awkward making a fuss by sending back something we had ordered, however unintentionally. We figured that we would drink the first bottle and then probably switch to tap, but the waiter kept the bottle out of sight and never asked if we wanted more – one way or another, we wound up with a water bill of something like $10/person.

                                                                                    We considered it a learning experience and have since encountered the “sparkling or flat” question elsewhere. Now that I am clear on what is going on, I have no problem saying that I prefer tap unless there is some problem with the local water. Other than China, I have yet to be anywhere that didn’t have perfectly tasty tap water.

                                                                                    In my opinion, it is clearly designed to upsell, as why not offer tap as an option otherwise? I wouldn’t go so far as to say we wouldn’t return to a place that does it, but it does leave a bit of a bad taste and, all else being equal, we’d certainly be more quick to return to a place that doesn’t. If a restaurant has a free dinner salad that comes with dinner and the waiter wants to ask me if I would like to upgrade to the Caesar or add chicken or whatever, I have no problem. If the waiter started asking, “Do you want the Caesar salad or the green salad with chicken?” giving those two options without mentioning that both are upgrades, I would find that annoying. I suppose the difference for me is that the recitation of options gives the appearance (or seems intended to give the appearance) that those are the only readily available options.

                                                                                    Incidentally, I am a bit surprised to hear that the majority of people at upscale restaurants order bottled water. Perhaps it’s just that we run with a younger and somewhat crunchier crowd, but in general, bottled water is seen as a bit retrograde in our set.

                                                                                    12 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: meg944

                                                                                      Does the waiter really need to offer tap water for you to know they have it?

                                                                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                        I thought I made the reasons for our initial confusion pretty clear.

                                                                                        Knowing what I now know, I realize they are just trying to sell me, but I still find it odd and off-putting.

                                                                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                            It doesn't seem as though you actually read my post at all. I am not the original poster. He said, "flat or sparkling?" We said, "Oh, just regular flat water is fine with us." I did not indicate in my post that we had the slightest confusion about having to pay for it once he brought it out (incidentally, opening it as he came.) In fact, I specifically indicated the opposite. I did say that I didn't want to make a fuss in front of our guests and figured we had, albeit unintentionally, ordered it, so we intended to tell him that we wanted tap water when we finished the first bottle. (Having never ordered it before, we assumed, as with wine, that we would be notified when the bottle was empty.) Except that he never asked, just kept the bottle out of sight and continually refilled everyone's glasses, and so we wound up with an expensive water bill. Which, as I said, we simply chalked up to an education.

                                                                                            That said, I don't care for this new type of upselling for the reasons I stated before, and while it isn't necessarily a make or break thing, I don't see why it is inappropriate for me to vote with my feet.

                                                                                            1. re: meg944

                                                                                              "In my opinion, it is clearly designed to upsell, as why not offer tap as an option otherwise?"

                                                                                              This is the part of your post I was replying to. I don't understand why a restaurant needs to offer you tap water, as it is obviously implied (hazardous water areas excluded).

                                                                                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                                My point was that it’s a classic psychological trick. For example, say, I call people I want to volunteer for something and ask them, “Will you take care of the caterer or would you prefer to handle the invitations?” Far more people will choose one than if I simply called and said, “Would you be able to help out?” Of course, yes, they know that they could simply refuse to choose either of the options I offer, but that’s not the way we are trained to respond to such a question in our society. They recommend doing the same thing w/ kids – don’t let them pick what they want, give them several choices, all of which are acceptable to you.

                                                                                                Is it your position that restaurants/servers are asking this question completely innocently, not realizing that more people order bottled water when tap is not offered as an option? It is my position that they realize that is the case and that is why it is phrased that way. As others have noticed, we get various levels and types of salesmanship every time we dine out. It’s a matter of which ones we accept or even enjoy (I actually rather like seeing desserts on display in certain places) and which we don’t. I happen to dislike this one.

                                                                                                1. re: meg944

                                                                                                  As posted above, my restaurant offers "sparkling, spring or tap?" and over 70% of our tables purchase bottled. Do you really think the percentage would go up if the tap wasn't offered? Perhaps we'll have to try it.


                                                                                                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                                    Your clientele might not make up a statistically significant sample, but in the general population overall, yes, I absolutely do. I would suggest that you try it and get back to me, (the economist in me is absolutely dying to find out) but as I find the practice annoying, I suppose I can hardly encourage it.

                                                                                      2. re: meg944

                                                                                        It is not my experience that the majority of people at upscale restaurants in Toronto order bottled water.

                                                                                        Some people who post here are always quick to absolve restaurant staff and/or management for the types of issues discussed in thread. These people often post useful information on other topics. One eventually recognizes who they are and evaluates their posts accordingly.

                                                                                        1. re: embee

                                                                                          Perhaps I'm just full of myself for thinking you're referring to me here; I could be wrong. However, after spending the majority of my life in restaurants, I'm simply offering an experienced perspective.

                                                                                          1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                                                            Sorry that I need to burst your bubble (or is that sparkle?), but I wasn't referring to you at all ;-) I've never run into one of your posts before and you seem eminently reasonable.

                                                                                      3. On a more pleasant note, we recently had a lovely lunch at Chateau les Crayeres in Champagne. When the waiter asked if we wanted bottled water (again, maybe it’s just me, but that question doesn’t irk me the way “which of these several bottled waters do you want?” does,) I asked if it was possible to have tap water. He gave a little bow and said, “Madame, here, anything is possible.”

                                                                                        6 Replies
                                                                                        1. re: meg944

                                                                                          Ick. I never drink tap water except at home, you never really know about standards unless you take the time to research them, and why take a chance? At least you can read the labels on bottles, overseas I always look for the ISO stuff. I never take ice, either, for the same reason.

                                                                                          1. re: hsk

                                                                                            Well, if you're that concerned about tap water standards, maybe you need to, likewise, be concerned about the food you're eating. Tap water is used to wash vegetables, and I have no doubt that there are many more things that would make me go 'ick' (if I let my mind wander) about another person's cooking/kitchen than the water that comes from their tap. And, for those of us concerned about the enormous consumption of energy and resources to produce bottled water, tap water just makes sense.

                                                                                            1. re: Full tummy

                                                                                              Not to mention the communities that are destroyed around the globe when corporations like Nestle go in and steal all their water so we can have some bottled crap.

                                                                                              1. re: deelicious

                                                                                                I have never heard of this being one of the problems with bottled water. Can you link to an article?

                                                                                            2. re: hsk

                                                                                              So much of the bottled water in the US comes from a random municipal water system, so you're often drinking tap water anyways even though you're paying more for the priviledge.


                                                                                          2. in a possibly more "downscale" application of this issue in Chinese restaurants . . . .

                                                                                            How do you all feel when asked "would you like tea?" - sometimes there is a charge for it, sometimes not. Do you aks?

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: orangewasabi

                                                                                              I would never expect to be charged for tea in any Asian restaurant.

                                                                                              In a similar vein, my most infuriating experience was when I was charged for coffee refills in an American suburban business hotel bar. My comment to the server was "I thought this was the United States?"

                                                                                              (and I always say "tap water")

                                                                                              1. re: Mr Rabbit

                                                                                                Good tea and coffee is expensive. I'd rather pay for something good rather than drinking crap for free.