Young and Hungry

Orange Juice Should Never Include Ice Cubes


Take a good look at this glass of juice. Does it look orange to you? It should, because the last time I checked, orange juice was supposed to be, you know, orange.

But when I stopped by Columbia Firehouse recently for brunch, this is what they served when I asked for orange juice. It looks more like pineapple juice — mostly because the glass is loaded down with enough ice cubes to raise the Titanic. Lots of space-filling, OJ-extending ice cubes.

For this I paid $2.75?

Listen, I know there's a recession out there, and restaurants are hurting. I also know orange juice isn't cheap. My local Whole Foods sells a half-gallon of freshly squeezed organic orange juice for $5.49. That's real money.

But when I pay $2.75 for — what? — an eight-ounce pour of OJ, I want eight ounces of pure, unadulterated orange juice. I want a direct hit of Florida sun and soil as filtered through those orange balls of sweet-tart pulp. I don't want ice cubes.

When I see ice cubes in orange juice, I have two immediate thoughts: The orange juice will suck because it's watered down, and the restaurant is cheap, trying to extend its product at the expense of the product.

Now, I don't mean to pick on Columbia Firehouse. The rest of my brunch, particularly my steak and eggs with these succulent (if slightly overcooked) slices of Roseda Farms strip steak, was terrific. But really what's the excuse for watering down OJ?

I realize this is probably my little beef, and it doesn't bother the rest of you. But I was annoyed enough to express my disapproval via 140 fiery characters on Twitter: "Ice cubes do not belong in OJ. Makes me think restaurants are cheap, trying to stretch more glasses out of their oranges (or OJ cartons)."

One person responded to my outburst:

oh yes it does. i like everything cold

Well, here's an idea: Keep the OJ in the refrigerator.

  • dan riley

    The vodka makes it look diluted.

  • Simon

    JUST SEND IT BACK. You don't have to write fifteen inches of column about it. A two-sentence rant on would've sufficed.

    If you don't send it back, as far as I'm concerned, you don't have the right to complain. If you send it back and it's fixed to your liking, then STFU. If you try to send it back and they won't fix it to your liking, then by all means write a front-page article if you like.

  • Tim Carman


    Do you understand a critic's role? You have an experience and you write about it. That's what we do. If you don't want to read it, don't.


  • q

    Ice cubes in OJ is a personal preference, one that I myself indulge in. But in a restaurant, served with a meal, it is not appropriate, unless asked for.

  • Simon

    Tim, you're avoiding the question. Did you send it back? Or did you just say to yourself, "Lookie here, I've got my Wednesday blog post all worked out!" and not let the restaurant know you had any concern until now?

  • Tim Carman


    You're missing the point. As a critic, you don't send food back. You let the restaurant speak for itself. It presents its food as it wants. I critique it. I'm sure they would have changed it, had I said something, but I'm not playing that role. I'm reviewing the food and drink as they send it out.

  • Chimpy the Editor

    "Do you understand a critic’s role? You have an experience and you write about it. That’s what we do. If you don’t want to read it, don’t."

    That sounds incredibly pretentious and irritating. You don't frequent "tweed parties" and ride a fixed gear bicycle by chance and listen to "indie dance" do ya? I liked this piece until that was written. This is the role of the reader. Read and formulate an opinion. If you don't like it, move on to the next snarky comment. But in all seriousness, why didn't you send it back?

  • Tim Carman

    Sorry, not trying to be pretentious. Just frustrated at the lack of understanding over the critic's role. I'm over it. As you were.

  • sarah

    no way, this is totally justified -- even more so if there's alcohol in the drink! some friends and i snuck into bourbon on 18th st. during saturday's blizzard and while i commend them for being open, they tried to put ice cubes in our mimosas. mimosas! you better believe we sent that shit back. the mimosas sans cubes however, were delish.

  • FG

    I heard about Columbia Firehouse through some friends and they raved about it. They kept saying how great it was and so I caved and ended up going for dinner...and boy I wish I didn't go.

    My experience overall was a drag. I ordered there Ranch Brined Onion Rings which kicked ass and had there 3 Cheese Ravioli with Roasted Ratatouille & Light Brown Butter... Nothing about my entree was good. Ratatouille was watery and not seasoned there 3 Cheese Ravioli had no cheese in it! And to top it all off my waiter was a twat... I adore food but I would never recommend this place to ANYONE! Though I heard they recently got a new chef but Im still pretty hesitant on stepping back into this place.

    P.S. Sorry about your watered down oj. I guess this can be blamed on the economy as well...

  • J

    hey Tim- was it a screwdriver or a regular orange juice? I think regular orange juice should never have ice cubes unless you specifically ask. Screwdrivers on the other hand should always look like that.

    Oh and Simon STFU. You dont like what your reading - don't read it.

  • J

    One more thing-

    Chimpy - Tims not allowed to defend himself? What blog do you write for? I highly doubt you would walk away from stupid/ insulting comments directed at you.

  • Tim Carman


    It was just a regular OJ. A cocktail is a whole 'nother story. Ice helps temper the alcohol in that case.

    Thanks for covering my flank there, J.


  • KJ


    It is my understanding that anything served in a martini glass should never be served with ice. Ideally both the vodka and the glass should be chilled as well as the OJ. As per your original critique, I agree. OJ should be served chilled in a chilled glass without ice.

  • RobF

    I am confused, ice is expensive. At least with soda fountain drinks it is cheaper to serve without ice than with ice. Straight plain OJ should not be icy and it might be cheaper for restaurateurs.

    As far as sending back a 3 buck juice... I wouldn't bother, the headache and potential conversation with a 'manager' just isn't worth it. I'd suck the remnants of juice out of the cup; remembering, with every slurp, to not return to a place I found unsatisfactory.

    Regarding Tim's critic role. Well I completely, utterly and totally disagree with some of his reviews. Isn't it great that we can each have our own opinions. What's better? I have respect for all the reviews Tim has written, whether I agree (like this one) or disagree. I have the expectation that a critic openly tells his or her experience. How food is first served displays a restaurant's desired portrayal of that menu item, or it should be. I'm not interest in whether multiple conversations results in critic positive presentation and taste. I want to know what to expect when I frequent the joint.

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  • Diana

    Man, I live in Florida and you can basically get oranges next to nothing at certain times of the year. I can't believe you paid that much money for a glass of mostly ice and a drop of orange juice. Did you send it back and ask for no ice.

    Oh, and if I go to a restaurant out of state, I have to ask if the OJ is fresh or from concentrate. I'm not going to eat that concentrate stuff.

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