H2Only: The All-Water Menu Debuts at Ray's and Stark Bar

Martin Riese, the restaurant's water sommelier, is ready to guide you through consistency and flavor.

By Alysia Gray Painter
|  Wednesday, Aug 7, 2013  |  Updated 12:25 PM PDT
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H2Only: The All-Water Menu Debuts at Ray's and Stark Bar

Sven Doornkaat

Martin Riese, the new water sommelier at Ray & Stark's at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, is overseeing the restaurant's new water menu, which launched on Monday, Aug. 5.

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The question isn't whether water has a taste, but rather how to fully describe and define all the flavors it encompasses.

Think first of drinking from your tap, then of drinking from the bubbler at the gym, then of accidentally taking a gulp of river water while swimming. Would "soft," "snappy," and "tangy" apply?

Best pull out all of your best descriptors before visiting Ray's and Stark Bar at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The restaurant introduced its new water menu on Monday, Aug. 5, a menu that is overseen by water sommelier Martin Riese, an expert on all things damp (he in fact authored a book about water that was published in his native homeland, Germany).

So what's on a water menu? Yep, H20 is the correct answer, but H20 in all of its different gluggable guises. A bottle of Saratoga, a sparkling water from the Adirondacks, is described as being more salty and bitter than sweet and smooth. Saint Geron, an eau from France, is on the sweeter side.

Each of the twenty waters on the menu is listed by country and includes sodium, calcium, and magnesium counts, as well as that all important sweet/salty and smooth/complex scales.

Scoff not, tap water lover, nor you, gag writer who would write satire about our astringent Angeleno-type eating and drinking habits.

Consider this: If you're entertaining a business client, and that client doesn't drink, how do you make a celebration of the meal? Sure, you can request that the kitchen stick a candle in your client's meatloaf -- we'd kind of be tempted to, anyway, just to see the client's reaction -- or you can order a fancy bottle of aqua for under ten bucks, a bottle that's going to arrive with all the ceremony of a pricey carafe of wine. Mr. Riese said he thinks that the water menu will be a staple of the classic business lunch and we're inclined to agree (though wine will certainly never make its exit, either).

Nope, not every restaurant goer is a cocktail enthusiast, it's true. And not everyone likes tap water, which is truly yummy -- it has a slightly astringent taste, to us, but maybe your interpretation is different -- and we're not ready to forsake it quite yet.

But would we go for a posh water in a pretty bottle from some far-off land, once every so often, as a fun thing for a table of non-cocktail-ists? Indeedy, and it's something all the diners at the table, of every age, can partake in.

Tap, we love you, but we may see other waters, now and then, on special occasions, if we're feeling bubbly. Hope you don't think we're all wet.

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