In the first instalment of our new monthly feature Restaurant Rant, SquareMeal news editor Eamonn Crowe takes the plunge and berates the reinvention of water at restaurants.

“Would you like some water to start things off? Perhaps still or sparkling?” Unless you’re lucky enough to exclusively dine at restaurants which fling Champagne at you as soon as you walk in the door, this sentence should be a rather familiar opener to any meal out. In fact, restaurants that don’t offer you water (or some form of refreshment) as soon as you’ve sat down aren’t worth going to – fact.

I love water; it’s simple, it’s unpretentious and it’s a good placeholder for booze when you’re waiting on a late guest (it also offers a good window of time to explore the wine list before having to pretend you know the difference between a Syrah and a Shiraz – hint, there isn’t one). Water is resolute. London’s dining scene is in a constant state of flux – everyone wants the new fad, the latest ingredient, the coolest concept, but water doesn’t fall victim to any of that. At least it didn’t, until a few years ago. 

Stop trying to reinvent the (water) wheel, and keep your hands off my H20

Just like “sharing concepts” have ruined the joy of having a main to yourself (more on that in my next rant), Instagram health nuts and pseudo-nutritionists have ruined water in restaurants. Now, the original must-have is contaminated with fruits, herbs and other staples of Deliciously Ella’s diet, because such additions allegedly “cleanse” and “detoxify” and all those other buzz words that don’t really mean anything. In Los Angeles, the land of unnecessary people doing unnecessary things, Ray’s & Stark Bar even boasts its own Water Sommelier, with a 44-page water menu (yes, really).

I refuse to let water fall victim to the trend zombies, though. I am on a one-man mission to end this madness – London restaurants, stop trying to reinvent the (water) wheel, and keep your hands off my H20.

Stock image water glasses fruit

The worst water offenders:  

Sparkling – Pretentious and trying to be something it’s not – diamonds sparkle, water fizzes. It’s for people who ‘brunch’ as a verb, and think that Lena Dunham isn’t completely awful.

Lemon – The original accessory to water is arguably an acceptable addition to your glass of the clear stuff.  However, anything more than a singular slice results in something more bitter than Kate Nash’s debut single.  

Cucumber – Perhaps the most offensive take on water out there. Why on earth do I want to feel like I’m drinking the remnants of a bath tub at a spa that charges £75 for a thirty-minute-long soak?

Mint – Less offensive than its cucumber counterpart, but mint-infused water still tastes like liquidised toothpaste, and anyone with more brain cells than Joey Essex knows that eating immediately after brushing your teeth is a rookie mistake.


So, next time you’re dining out, take a stand and order your water filtered, bottled and without any of the extra stuff. Or if you’re really hard-core, just get it straight from the tap #LetWaterBeWater.

If you have your own restaurant pet-hates, let us know on Twitter @SquareMeal with the hashtag #RestaurantRant