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Nov 29, 2012 11:50 AM

Charge for still water and no bread [moved from Boston]

Should I be annoyed that Trade charged for still water and had no bread to wipe my plate clean? I asked for bread and I was told I could purchase flat bread. I passed on that politely. Then to my surprise I was charged for still water in a non commercial a cost of 5$. I do not mind paying for still or with gas which are commercially sold, bot this was a reusable bottle filled with MWRA water. Shame on Jody for charging for water and bread. You I was at an extremely fine restaurant the evening before that did not charge for those items and in fact they gave ame a small taste of fortified Barolo with out me asking. I love Rialto , Jody 's other restaurant but I think the James Beard ward has gone to her head. Just asking if I am off base. Told the waiter and filled out a satisfaction card. Left my name

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  1. We recently had a huge shock eating at restaurants in Vienna...they charge you a ~5 Euro pp "table" charge for the linens, bread, silverware, etc! While I"m sure most purveyors here also work that charge into my meal, I'd rather have it done that way rather than charge a flat fee for just sitting down.

    5 Replies
      1. re: Science Chick

        I've seen table charges before, I think in Osaka.

        1. re: Science Chick

          But you generally don't tip, then, correct? At least, not the 15-20% expected in the U.S. I haven't been to Vienna, but in Italy, you pay the "coperto" when you sit down, but the tip is minimal..

          1. re: Science Chick

            The cost of bread, linens etc is bulit into the entree price. I do agree, it's better to incorporate those charges into the menu pricing rather than having separate charges, it may also effect how one tips.

            1. re: Science Chick

              Restaurants in France and Italy serve plain bread because it's used to sop up the sauces and dressings that are typical of those cuisines. A morsel of bread is used almost as much as a a fork. With those dishes there is really no need for fancy breads or butter or dipping oil. Bread and still water are included in the modest cover charge, but one is not required to leave a tip. Isn't there also a service charge?

            2. Obviously ALL restaurants charge for water, and yes, for the right to sit at their tables and chairs and so forth. Most just don't see any need to make that explicit.

              But $5 for a tap water seems so ridiculous and out-of-the-ordinary that I'm questioning whether or not I'm getting the full story here. Can anyone else who has eaten at Trade confirm that they charge you $5 for tap water? I'm skeptical that this is true.

              1. I generally just indicate tap water is fine, versus still, to avoid any possible misconception that I am willing to pay for water. The restaurant could have had its own filter system or something of the sort, but personally, I trust MWRA water just fine. I would be very annoyed if you had to pay for any water at the table, even tap, though.

                I think today more and more bread is never guaranteed - depends on the taste of the restaurant. And a lot of bread gets wasted if they automatically give it out. Finally, why fill up a patron with zero margin bread versus having them order an appetizer.

                Scampo charges for bread, but its because they make all of it in house and have a tasty variety. I haven't been to Trade, but they several flatbreads on the menu which seem more pizza-ish than plain bread.

                But if I want bread with my meal, I know where to go.. at the Olive Garden, if I wanted to, I can eat an infinite amount of breadsticks.. now that's a deal.. infinite!
                .. .

                15 Replies
                1. re: grant.cook

                  Wait, aren't tap and still the same thing here? "Still" is opposed to "sparkling," not opposed to or different from "tap." OP seems to indicate that this was tap.

                  1. re: FinnFPM

                    Not necessarily.. they could have 5 gallon jugs of Poland Spring in the back that they use to fill their water containers. I ask for "tap" just to be clear that I don't want to pay for water. If you ask for "still," to me that opens the door for the restaurant to possibly charge you..

                    1. re: grant.cook

                      Hmm. You're probably right. OP does say that it was MWRA, but that could certainly be a false assumption. I do think there's reason to suspect the accuracy of a person who signs up for a message board solely to post a confusing, poorly-worded rant about feeling ripped off.

                      1. re: grant.cook

                        Fifty years ago I was reading an Archie Comic book. Archie takes Veronica out to dinner at a fancy restaurant. To stretch his funds, when asked by the waiter what he'd like to drink, Achie replied, I'll have a glass of water. The waiter replied "would you like the $1 glass or the $3 glass?'
                        Archie turns red in the face and sinks under the table.

                        Back then, The comic cost 12 cents, and a steak dinner was $4.95 in white linen restaurants.

                      2. re: FinnFPM

                        IMO "still" and "sparkling" can apply to bottled water.

                        Tap is tap. If it's not in a commercial bottle it's tap in my book.

                        1. re: C. Hamster

                          And as many who buy water forget, most commercially bottled water is tap water too.

                      3. re: grant.cook

                        For decades, American restaurants have provided bread at no charge. And all along, it has been common for European restaurants to charge a small fee for such things (but, as the earlier poster noted, the expectation is that the diner will tip less). It is a bit odd to make it sound like it is an unusual expectation to have "complimentary" bread at a finer restaurant. This isn't a question of going to the Olive Garden if you want such things. If the OP has given us all the details, it is a question of why a restaurant has suddenly decided to charge for something that it is unusual to charge for at American restaurants. I think that is a totally reasonable question.

                        1. re: hckybg

                          Yes, often they did.. and I don't think its unusual to expect it based on prior experience, but its becoming more usual for restaurants not to automatically provide you a basket of bland food-service rolls with your dinner, or to actually put some craft into preparation of their breads and charge for them.

                          The OP was annoyed that he didn't have a gravy-sopper and commented on the service attitude of the owner after winning her "ward" I think that's harsh for a practice that not unusual these days.

                          The only true requirement for a restaurant is that Mexican places must give me chips and salsa..

                          1. re: grant.cook

                            Some better Mexican places have stopped the free chips and salsa thing too.

                            1. re: DagingKuda

                              No free chips and salsa at La Verdad.

                            2. re: grant.cook

                              "its becoming more usual for restaurants not to automatically provide you a basket of bland food-service rolls with your dinner",

                              I don't recall getting bread like this in ...well, I can't recall.

                              " or to actually put some craft into preparation of their breads"

                              Yeah, this is what they do.

                              "and charge for them"

                              No, no, not where I eat.

                              1. re: FrankJBN

                                List 'em off then.. I am not saying no restaurants ever give away good bread - L'impasto in Cambridge does that very thing, and it gets baked into the price somewhere else. But that a restaurant is under less and less pressure to put a complimentary basket of bread in front of you as part pf service, especially if it means adding baking to its kitchen activities.

                                And it makes less and less sense economically and for a diner- "here's some food you might or might not eat, and if you don't, we chuck in a garbage can, and if you do eat it, will fill you up before the actual food we care about shows up.."

                                Do you ever eat Indian btw? That free bread concept never made it anywhere near the tandoor..

                                1. re: grant.cook

                                  Bondir has a very nice bread basket but do not charge for it. I guess I could see a place putting bread on the menu and charging if you order it--makes total sense. I'd be very miffed if a place put bread on the table and charged for it, or the same for water. But as others have pointed out, this post does seem a bit fishy so maybe we are all wasting our time on it.

                          2. Were I in the restaurant business I would charge a small amount for bread. It seems a shame to see so much get thrown out. The few places I have been that do this generally have very good bread.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: kengk

                              I believe both Catalyst and West Bridge have taken to providing bread free of charge, but only upon request. That to me seems like a good middle ground of eliminating waste while still providing the customer with a product that many expect to not have to pay for

                              1. re: mkfisher

                                I like places that ask if you want bread. In the olden days they'd just bring it. Now if you know you don't intend to eat a roll (though I'm often tempted) you can just pass on bread service altogether. And avoid throwing out all of that bread as it goes untouched.

                              2. re: kengk

                                Depends on the location, here in Florida with so many elderly retired people the free bread can make or break a place, they expect the bread to be free and fresh.

                                1. re: redfish62

                                  Perhaps.. the article I posted here speaking on this trend was from Tampa Bay.

                              3. I had brunch at Russell House a few weeks back and was pleased and surprised to be offered complimentary still OR fizzy water. Nice touch. If I restaurant asked me to pay for tap water I would refuse. Especially $5. That's robbery.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: katzzz

                                  Some restaurants have installed those systems that filter and gas their water on site. They usually give the still or sparkling water for free. Nice touch.