London restaurateurs have hit back at a report claiming that restaurants are pushing costly mineral water on diners to make a "quick profit".
The survey by the National Consumer Council (NCC), released last week, suggested that nine out of 10 UK restaurants are forcing diners to buy bottled water and failing to provide free tap water.
The report, based on a survey of 1,000 consumers, claimed that only 1% of restaurants in the North-west of England and London offer free tap water instead of the bottled variety.
It suggested that 70% of diners think that the price of mineral water in restaurants is too expensive, with one-fifth saying that they feel inhibited asking for complimentary tap water.
NCC senior policy advocate Carl Belgrove said: "Some restaurants are willing to offer tap water to their customers but the majority push mineral water just to make a quick profit."
However, David Moore, proprietor of Pied à Terre and L'Autre Terre, said that such claims were simply wrong.
He said: "We are providing a product that customers ask for, and mark-ups are needed to make a profit as overheads of running a restaurant are high. Most restaurants understand that diners have budgetary requirements and, if they ask for tap water, they will get it."
Sam Harrison, co-owner of Sam's Brasserie and Harrison's, said that while there were some restaurants that forced diners to order bottled water, the majority did offer tap water.
He said: "The demand for tap water is definitely there so, at my restaurants, diners are always given the option to order jugs of tap water for the table. However, on the flip side, some diners are hugely offended when you offer them tap water and insist on ordering bottled water - so it works both ways."
By Kerstin Kühn
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