Monday, June 15, 2009

Rant: Restaurants & Beverages

It is Monday morning and once again time for my weekly rant.

Though restaurants obviously understand the importance of their food, they sometimes fail to recognize that their beverages can be just as important. Food and drink complement each other, and a failure in the drink department can thus hurt a restaurant's overall quality. Sometimes it may seem a small matter, but those small items can make a significant difference.

I love fresh brewed, unsweetened iced tea. It is actually very easy and inexpensive to make yet some restaurants don't seem to get it. First, some restaurants won't serve iced tea year round because it is seen as a "summer" drink. Yet those same places will serve iced coffee year round as well as ice cream. Let us see iced tea available all the time. Second, some restaurants serve iced tea from the fountain, like a soda. I strongly dislike the taste of such iced tea. It seems artificial and has a funky taste. They should just spend $25 and buy an iced tea maker. Third, and what really irks me, is when a restaurant charges me for refills of my iced tea. It is so cheap to make, that it seems criminal when you get charged an extra $2 or more for a refill. A restaurant with unlimited refills of iced tea gets my recommendation.

I am also a big fan of Saké and it bothers me when the only thing I see on a drink menu is "Hot Saké." Generally, Saké is best serve chilled. Even when it is served warm, it should not be served as hot as you get it at those restaurants. Why serve Saké at all if you are not going to do it right? Yet just because a restaurant serves chilled Saké does not let them off the hook. If you buy a bottle of Saké, the restaurant should keep it chilled at your table, like they would a bottle of white wine. But not all places do that and they should.

There are 25-30 wineries in Massachusetts, plus plenty more in the rest of New England. In addition, New York, has its own significant wine industry. So why don't you see more of these local wines on restaurant wine lists? Why aren't more restaurants supporting local wineries? Yes, some restaurants will add one or two local wines to their menus, but plenty don't. Those restaurants who pride themselves on providing local foods should especially consider adding local wines to their lists. Not all local wines are worthy of a restaurant wine list, but there are plenty that would enhance such a list.

Do you have some of your own restaurant and beverage issues? If so, please tell me about them in the comments.

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