Carlos Crespo Lorenzo and his family with Christopher Goodrich
As far as we know, this restaurant gem has the world's largest water menu. It is called O Lar do Leitón, which translates from Galician into “the place of the roast suckling pig”,
O Lar do Leitón
Rua do Sol, 18.
Valdorregueiro, Ourense, 32001
+34 988 21 66 88
This is the story of two chefs from Spain. One is world-famous for many award-winning restaurants and for feeding communities in emergencies across the globe. The other one runs a small family restaurant in Galicia. A tasting menu for two people can reach $600 at the fancy Las Vegas restaurant, while the average check for two in Galicia is a mere 60 euros.
Both chefs care deeply about the food they are serving and have a wine list appropriate for the level of the restaurants. But this is where the similarities diverge.
At Bazaar Meat by José Andrés in Las Vegas, the choice is “Still, or Sparkling '', with Perrier and Evian being the only waters served in this proud Spanish restaurant with many imported food items from Spain. Hundreds of wines are on the wine list, and the choice of waters is the same as you find at the Walgreens drugstore across the street or a gas station outside Las Vegas.
The situation is different at O Lar do Leitón, a small family restaurant by Carlos Crespo Lorenzo and his family. There are over 150 waters from 33 countries available on the menu. In 2007 the restaurant started with 37 waters from 8 countries and built the world's most extensive water menu. Our man in Spain, water sommelier Christopher Goodrich, discovered this gem recently, and we have already reported about this phenomenal place.
Today we are excited to present the new water menu for O Lar do Leitón. FineWaters was hired to structure the existing water menu and create food and water pairings recommendations. Christopher and I were thrilled about working with this singular important water menu, but as soon as we started, panic set in - 150 waters!
How can you make this fantastic choice accessible to the guests without overwhelming them?
Here is how we approached the problem.
The base for the menu is all the waters listed according to the Minerality from Super Low, Low. Medium, High to Very High in the Bodega, or cellar section, in alphabetical order, indicating carbonation and distinguishing natural carbonation. Country of origin, source, TDS, pH, price, and bottle sizes are also mentioned. We also used a one-liner “speed dating” approach describing each water. The copy was created in Spanish and translated into English.
On top of the Bodega foundation, we created the Gallery concept. All the dishes on the menu have been divided into five sensations or moods, ranging from BOLD, TEMPTING, CURIOUS, SUBTLE, to SHY. In the Gallery, we feature a curated selection of waters that pair with the overall sensation of selected dishes from the food menu for the particular Gallery.
We used the flavors and mouthfeel of the grouped dishes to recommend the selected waters by using minerality, carbonation, pH, and our experience as guiding factors. The description of each water used three lines and includes food and wine pairings suggestions. The overall approach is superior to the usual appetizer, main course, and dessert structure. We also suggest selected wines with the dishes of a Gallery. The menu allows the restaurant to change the waters in a particular gallery according to seasons, stock, and guest feedback.
THE LOCAL CHOICE
Galicia is a proud and renowned place for food with a long tradition of local dishes. When you open the water menu, the first thing you see are the local Galician waters with a full description and food and wine pairings. The Local Choice also addresses some guests' concerns about the carbon footprint of imported waters, allowing them to enjoy a local choice of waters.
As a specialty, O Lar do Leitón is also known for serving Exotic Meats, and this section pairs waters for the Exotic Meats section of the menu.
Water is not just water; what better to illustrate this than using water, not champagne, to celebrate. Here you will find unique recommendations for bottles to open for a special occasion at a price range from €13,00 to €380,00.
COLLECTIONS AND GIFTS
Some bottles are clearly for collecting and not for hydration. This menu section elevates water beyond the celebratory aspect to a collectible level of engagement with water. The offerings include a €17.500,00 FILLICO "CLEOPATRA" and range to a charming collection of €6,00 waters from SIERRA CAZORLA with many other special bottles in between. This section is also an attention-getter and will play exceptionally well on social and general media as a curiosity.
FINE WATER ETIQUETTE
A glossary of terms introduces the readers of the menu to the bottled water etiquette and some terminology.
The menu is currently available in Spanish, English, French, and German.
This entire experience has demonstrated that water is not only special, but it can make you special. O Lar do Leitón is not just a trendsetter but history in the making, as we suspect the world of water menus will never be the same. Not only has it set the template for the direction of the category in the world of hospitality, but it has also become the reference and ruler against which future water menus will be measured. Welcome to ground zero.
Michael Mascha & Christopher Goodrich, February 2023