Friday, July 16, 2010

The jug is up

Did I miss the pronouncement of a change in the standard serving procedures of New York restaurants? The tweak may be minor, but it’s the sort of shift that throws sport diners into fits of chatter and blogging. Global warming was likely worsened exponentially by the fatuous yakking about common tables and square dinner plates. Yet you’d be hard-pressed to find so much as a tweet about the wholesale shift to water jugs.

Yet the proof of an overnight changeover is everywhere. The last four times I dined out, in Manhattan and in the burbs, our table was provided with menus, a greeting, and then the literal vessel for the trend, some type of refillable water container. One night, it was a green screw-top bottle that looked as if it could’ve once held olive oil. The next, we refilled our water glasses with what looked like an old-fashioned beer bottle, complete with swivel-type stopper. On that same day, a runner outfitted our table with a bread basket and what could’ve also served as a vase for long-stem roses, though it was filled with drinking water instead.

All were riffs on what appears to be the trend standard, a wine carafe filled instead with tap water.

The reasons for no longer serving water glass by glass are easy to deduce. Providing a table with a whole jug spares the runners considerable wear and tear. No longer do they have to scramble just to keep the glasses filled.

If other customers are like me, patrons appreciate that they no longer have to depend on the runners or a server for refills.

There’s very likely a green benefit to the new hydration approach, though it’s not as crystal clear as the output of a mountain spring. The same number of glasses have to be washed, and plenty of water will be wasted. Still, eco enthusiasts would probably prefer tipping a few ounces down the drain to unscrewing a bottle of water that was shipped from thousands of miles away.

I’ve rummaged through the U Store It stalls of recent memory for a recollection of seeing water jugs in the cities I’ve recently visited. None registered.

So the wave may still be rolling west. But the speed with which it infiltrated New York suggests it’ll be flowing through the mainland with Category 4 velocity.

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