Wednesday 28 February 2007

Frevd is a Fraud

119 Walton Street,

Jericho, Oxford
United Kingdom

Where is it?

From the front door head towards the left past the bar. There’s a pair of double of fairly bland dark double doors. Go through them and you’ll find the toilets through there.

What’s it like?

So, set in a converted Church in trendy Jericho this place is all about the wow of the building. The church conversion is used to full effect with banners hanging from the roof space. It is a pity that the wow stops there and lack of attention to the whole experience lets this place down. The food was fairly average to poor (pop in for a drink and leave it at that) and the toilets are unloved.

Yes, wow turns to urgh when you enter the toilets. Cold and drab you wonder why they have painted the walls bright yellow? I hardly want to speculate, but it might have something to do with the fairly limited number of urinals for the space available. In fact there is a general grubby feel throughout. The paint goes right on to bare brick. The sink is serviceable, but you would only use it through necessity. The lack of attention makes it clear that the owners don’t care whether you come back or not. In short, despite the potential you find out that Frevd is a fraud.

Marks out of 10:

3. At least they were servicable.

Comments to the management:

You need to refurbish if you want people to feel good about taking a pee.

Monday 26 February 2007

Oriental Underworld?

1st Oriental Supermarket
5132 W Colonial Dr
Orlando, FL USA

Where is it?

Behind the registers, in between the holistic medicine counter and the orchid display. Just look for the restroom signs and then the doors for the men's and women's toilets.

What's it like?

This is a mammoth oriental supermarket filled with all sorts of odd, and occassionally off-putting, smells -- primarily that of over-ripe seafood (if you catch my drift) --
and sights. It's an impressive grocery, don't get me wrong of that, but it's certainly not going to give the area Publix a run for its money in terms of cleanliness.

Also, the bathrooms don't diffuse those odors much, nor do they offer visual respite. They are dark, danky, and a bit grimy, with a faint air of mildew circling about in them. Not really the place you want to visit unless you're in dire need.

Though having said that, there are worse toilets in the area, and it is an oriental supermarket, after all, and it's not like you're coming here to NOT explore the cultural possibilities around you. So perhaps, in that light, the loo offers an appropriate extension of the cultures represented there?

Marks out of 10:

2. Pretty icky no matter what.

Comments to the Management:

A little light might do wonders here, as would some air fresheners. But then, having said that, one has to wonder what lurking horror might be illuminated by that light.

Sunday 25 February 2007

"Mellow Flushrooms"?

Mellow Mushroom
2015 Aloma Avenue
Winter Park, FL USA 32792

Where is it?

From the entrance, go left, past the bar and indoor dining room, towards the back wall. There, you'll see a sign pointing towards the "Mellow Flushrooms" leading you through a door to your right. Go through the door and into a small atrium: The women's room is at the back of the atrium, the men's to your right.

What's it like?

This is a hip little pizza joint filled with 60s memorabilia (lots of Beatles posters for some reason), a psychedelic color scheme and lots of great pizza and beer selections. (A hipster's pizza palace if there ever was one.)

The bathrooms extend the theme, with filtered lighting (a bit of an annoying orange), lime green walls and more Beatles posters (including a print of the famous Andy Warhol painting over the urinal). Bathrooms are tidy but probably could be a little cleaner. Tile could use a scrub. Damp paper towels were piled up on the floor, by the trash can. Little bit of mildew on the porcelain. Not enough to turn you away, mind you, but certainly enough to suggest the staff visit a little more regularly throughout the day....

.... Unless of course they're spending too much time getting in touch with their 1960s sensibilities. Which may be the case. When we were leaving, one of the pizza chefs just happened to be singing the praises of beer quite loudly ("BEER!! BEER!!! BEER!!! I LOVE BEER!!! BEER!!! BEER!!!) . Mellow indeed......

Marks out of 10:

6. Clean, but has the potential of being better than what it is.

Comments to the Management:

Stop declaring your passion for beer and attend to the "Flushrooms" more often.

What's with the Foot Cream, Nile?

Nile Ethiopian Resturant [sic]
7040 International Drive
Orlando, FL USA 32819

Where is it?

The dining room is separated into two rooms, a main room with a majority of the tables and a center area filled with traditional Ethiopian textiles and woven baskets, and a side area with just tables. You enter in the main room, which as a bar at the back. Head towards the bar, but right before you get to it you'll see a small opening leading to the second room (to your right). Go into the second room, turn left immediately, and go to the rear of the restaurant. The bathrooms will be there.

What's it like?

This a very humble restaurant that's obviously been decorated by the owners. The paint job is patchy in parts, as are the way the decorative archways have been carved in the dining room. Not badly done, mind you, but not professionally done either. Coupled with the fine food and friendly service, the combined effect has you feeling like you're entering someone's home more than a restaurant. The only distracting factor during our visit was the constant barrage of 70s dance tunes that played on the sound system. (According to the owner, the place hopes to do more nightlife entertaining and this is his way of getting started -- though it seems the place is too modest at the moment to accommodate anything more than what it is.)

Given that, the bathrooms prove an extension of the dining room decor. You can tell the walls were painted by the owners, and the tile work was laid down by someone who doesn't do it professionally. Corners aren't edged properly. Tile is a little crooked here and here. But still, the overall experience was comfortable. It's a clean, serviceable toilet through and through.

The only mystery here was a tube of foot cream I found atop the soap dispenser by the sink. What is foot cream doing here? Why was it atop the soap dispenser -- a hands only place if there was one. (This is a restaurant where you don't use utensils -- you eat everything with your hands.) Very perplexing.....

Marks out of 10:

6. Clean and functional, but the presence of foot cream knocks it down a step.

Comments to the Management:

No doubt some touching up is needed -- and you'll need to stay attentive to make certain the toilets don't start sagging in quality as time passes. But more important, please keep your foot cream -- and all other creams -- out of public view. That's just weird!

Friday 23 February 2007

Tropical Paradise at Tommmy Bahama

Tommy Bahama Cafe
9101 International Drive
Orlando, FL USA 32819

Where is it?

Harder to find that you might think. From the maitre d' stand, face the restaurant's bar area. Walk straight towards the back wall, keeping the bar on your left, until you enter the small corridor on the back wall, just right of the waitress station on the back wall. The bathrooms are in there.

What's it like?

Very comfortable. The restaurant carries a modern-yet-old-fashioned island decor to it, with lots of ceiling fans, bamboo decor, plantation-styled walls, deep, dark woods and tropical colors. It's like one huge funiture commercial come to life, really.

The toilets extend that decor, offering urinals that stretch to the floor and are divided by the same sort of wooden shutters you'd find on the outside of a Caribbean mansion and stalls that use those same shutters as doors. Very spacious, quiet, clean. The sink has shiny metallic fixtures done in an antique fashion (again, adding to the motif), and the tilework mimics the tropical colors of the dining room. Bonus points for the coconut-scented air freshener their pipe into the place (and, to a lesser degree, into the dining room).

The only misstep was in the urinal separator itself, which was a little loose in its support and flapped a bit as I was peeing. Slightly jarring, even in a tropical sense. The urinal separator isn't a banana leaf, after all!

Marks out of 10:

9. Close, but no cigar, thanks to that flapping separator.

Comments to the Management:

Fix that urinal separator and you're as golden as a tropical ray of light.

Thursday 22 February 2007

A Toilet That Leaves You Fillin' Fine

Johnny's Fillin' Station
2631 S Ferncreek
Orlando, FL USA 32806

Where is it?

You have two options here:
  1. From the bar, go towards the pool table room and follow the back wall (hugging it, really) until you reach a small hallway along the far end of the building. The bathrooms are down that hallway -- full-bathrooms, with toilet, urinal and sink.
  2. From the bar go through the dining room and down the passage way between the two flat-screen TVs. The passage way leads to the patio, and the bathrooms (women's full version, men only urinal) are found in that passage way.
What's it like?

This place crosses two popular Florida elements: The Cracker bar and the biker bar, the majority of the clientele fits into both categories. The decor is very homespun, with walls covered in everything from sports banners to rock show posters to odd-ball knickknacks (like paintings that look like they were purchased at a flea market's bargain bin and bicycle handlebars), and the menu features bar food exclusively, like burgers (some of the best in town), wings, and whatnot.

Given that, you expect the toilets to be rather worn down and smelly. However, that's hardly the case. As one of my dining companions expressed after returning from the toilet, "My Lord, they are surprisingly clean!"

Yes, indeed.

The full bath (by the pool tables) offers all the essentials in an environment you feel comfortable in -- wallpapered walls, clean tile floors, shiny sink and commode. Very comfortable and clean-smelling, even if you can hear patrons laughing it up a little too well.

The smaller loo follow suit -- you don't smell even a trace of urine in the men's room (since it's a pee-only location), as you might expect. Bravo. They definitely work had at keeping the place tip-top -- and I'm sure the job isn't easy, considering the type of people who visit regularly.

Marks out of 10:

8. Should be a 7, but the fact that I couldn't smell any urine in the urinal stall really impressed me. Really!

Comments to the Management:

Keep up the good work. For a dive, your toilets are cleaner than many expensive restuarants I've visited. Your cleaning crew definitely deserves a drink on the house.

Tuesday 20 February 2007

Big Drinks: Tiny Toilets

93 Euston Road,
London , NW1 2RA
United Kingdom

Where is it?

Go to the very back left of the store. Go through the door. Male / Female unisex is to the right. For people who are disabled, it is straight on.

What’s it like?

Given the size of the drinks they serve in Starbucks, I wonder if they have really thought through the implications. Surely they must have anticipated increased use of the toilets? I guess not.

These have to be the tiniest toilets I have ever come across. You know those sleep pods the Japanese are in to? Well translate that in to toilets and that’s where we are. Really, they are very small. Nevertheless, they are clean and bright. I recognised the red tiles from the kitchen I had in my house before last which is not necessarily a bad thing. The drier works enthusiastically and is hot very quickly – which is important if you are going to have an electric drier. Overall, very functional even if it’s all a bit of a squeeze.

I also want to mention that this is one of the nicest Starbucks I’ve visited. The staff were friendly and the Hot Chocolate was an excellent antidote to my brisk walk from Marylebone Station about a mile away. Nothing like a large drink to warm you up!

Marks out of 10:

7 for cleanliness and utility.

Comments to the management:

More capacity would be good.

Wednesday 14 February 2007

Fantasy Castle: Flashy Toilets

Lumley Castle Hotel,
Chester le Street,
County Durham.
United Kingdom

Where is it?

Getting to the restaurant is a challenge, the place is a maze and there is so much to distract you on the way! To get there you leave the reception down a corridor before entering the inner courtyard. This is the first stop. The courtyard garden is fabulously lit. You then enter the castle again, and the music chamber (note the Harp for stop 2) before going through to the Library bar (stop 3 – for a pre-dinner drink). Leave the bar to the right and enter the corridor of busts (a slow walk rather than a stop). At the end of the corridor, turn left, go through the doorway and you’ll be at the restaurant.

To find the toilet from the restaurant, retrace your steps to the corridor of busts. The toilets are on the left, the gents furthest along just before the door to the bar.

What’s it like?

A combination of indecision (get up early and drive 5 hours or leave the day before and stop over), late booking (1pm on the day of travel), and a good dose of luck (a late booking discount web site) landed me at this fantastic castle hotel. Going into reception you wonder if it’s all a bit Disney fake, but then you quickly realise this place is a proper castle and doesn’t need to ham it up. This place is the real deal, a proper English castle that was built in the 14th Century.

The whole place is stuffed full of tapestries and comfy winged chairs – proper old style luxury. The toilets are no different. Spotless, spacious and quiet the opulence is carried through. Red tiled walls are complimented by ‘washed’ brown wall paper and coving that has cherubs galore. What’s more the 3 sinks have their own carved wooden awning. With a fancy mirror the whole effect is topped off.

Hell, the toilets alone are worth the trip, and the whole place is spectacular. And I haven’t even had time to tell you about the fantastic food. Best End of Lamb with Black pudding….. Oh yeah!

Marks out of 10:

Call it grade inflation, but this is a firm 12.

Comments to the management:

You don’t see toilets like this everyday. Such a cool place!

Tuesday 13 February 2007

Some soulful toilets

Mama Nems'
805 S. Kirkman Rd. #106
Orlando, FL USA 32811

Where is it?

To the right of the cashier.

What's it like?

This is a homey yet subtly chic soulfood restaurant on the west end of Orlando. What does that mean? Well, the emphasis is on comfort food and Southern tradition, and the food is reasonably priced, delicious and plentifully portioned, yet the dining room is overtly sparse (about 15 tables inhabit in the whole place, whereas the space could easily accomodate more) and the walls are dotted with modern and folk art paintings, which gives the impression a feng shui artist played a part in the interior design. The restaurant's pseudo-Asian-looking logo, which covers the back wall of the place, makes you feel like it's a place ripe for franchising -- even if te waitstaff talks endlessly about its formadible ties to the church down the street.

Having said that, the bathrooms are pretty straight and narrow. New as can be and clean as a whistle, but also lacking that bit of inspiration to take it over the top. White tile. Black dividers separating the urinal and sink. Sparkling white porcelain. For a strip mall eatery, you can't ask for a better bathroom. And the lemony hand soap foam is simply divine. But you get the impression more could have been done.

Marks out of 10:

8. Would have been a perfect 10 if it'd shown a little more creativity.

Comments to the Management:

Almost there. Just bring a little more of the dining room decor into the mix and you'll be near perfection.

Monday 12 February 2007

Nice bathroom, but Mama Mia the service, she is a-slow!

Outside Mama Mia; photo courtesy of www.mamamiaskitchen.comMama Mia's Kitchen
13409 US Hwy1

Riverwalk Shopping Plaza

Sebastian, FL USA 32958

Where is it?

From the front door, go to the back of the dining room, down a little corridor in the far left corner (the waitress station) and all the way to the end of the hall, staying to the left as you walk (otherwise you'll end up in the kitchen). The toilets will be on the left.

What's it like?

A standard one-seater that's elevated to greater heights, thanks to some some nifty, homespun touches. The floor and half of the walls are covered with rust-colored terracotta tile, and the upper parts of the walls are covered in colorful wallpaper and contain quirky pictures (funny-looking planes and such). Very homey and unpretentious, and very welcoming -- at least as bathroom's go.

In fact, that's the vibe for the whole restaurant -- quaint, homey, family friendly. The food's good and comforting, as is the decor.

Having said that, it's a shame the service is so awful. We waited 45 minutes for our salads to come out after we placed our order -- and then waited another hour for our main courses. And it wasn't like they were that busy, you know?

Naturally, all these delays gave me plenty of time to check out the toilets. However, even that step of the dining experience sufferred from the poor service. When I approached the waitress station at the back of the dining room and asked where the toilets were, a woman (without looking at me) pointed loosely in the direction of the aforementioned corridor (leading to the toilets) and said, with an angry voice, "Back there." (Let's just say that wasn't a comforting start to my trip to the loo.)

Marks out of 10:

7. Would've been an 8, but the crappy service and "Back there" comment knocked the rating down a knotch.

Comments to the Management:

You've got a great, clean and comfortable bathroom, and you're food's delicious, but the service needs definite improvement in terms of speed and politeness.

Saturday 10 February 2007

Hey, we're from New Yawk here

The dining room at Flakowitz's Bagel Inn; photo by Deb Moskowitz
Flakowitz Bagel Inn
1999 N. Federal Highway
Boca Raton, FL USA 33432

Where is it?

From the front door: Look to the left, passed the busy dining room, at the New York-inspired mural on the back wall (filled with references to the Yankees and Brooklyn Dodgers) and you'll see two little black doors -- one for men's and one for women's.

What's it like?

This is a standard south-Florida deli and bagel shop. The food's decent -- particularly the smoked white fish and sable -- though I've had better bagels (like at Roasters n Toasters in Miami). The biali is more like a toasted hamburger bun than a proper biali, but still the food is decent.

The toilets follow that mentality. Clean, though nothing out of the ordinary. White tile floor. White porcelain sink and toilets. Brown stall doors. A few chips in the wall and some wear and tear on the sink, otherwise perfectly serviceable, though nothing else. Given that this place is in the heart of Boca, with plenty of elderly New York transplants living nearby, I imagine the bathroom gets lots of use -- hence the emphasis on serviceability over style, no?

Marks out of 10:

6. About as clean as any bagel or deli you'll find in Manhattan.

Comments to the Management:

Could use a little cleaning up and restoration. Or better yet -- carry the fun theme of the mural into the toilets!

Don't expect much space at Max's

Max's Grille image, courtesy of www.maxsgrille.comMax's Grille
404 Plaza Real
Mizner Park
Boca Raton, FL USA 33432

Where is it?

Things are pretty easy to find at Max's. Head through front door, past the hostess stand and the bar (which is covered by an awning baring the word "Cocktails" in two-foot-tall lettering) and towards the small hallway to the left of the open kitchen, a hallway with a modest retro sign at its mouth reading, "Restrooms." Go down the hallways: The mens' is the first door you come across; the women's is at the end of the hall.

What's it like?

This is a pretty trendy-looking place with a very hip menu of American food fused with Asian and Latino influences, though the food's a bit too greasy and the side dishes seem to all come with overly garlicky sauteed spinach and cheddar mashed potatoes, which in turn nullify all the attempts to bring out the ethnic flavors of the food.

The interior is filled with dark woods and shadowy lighting. It's also very loud and it doesn't cater well to the crowds that pack the place. Very tight and hard to walk here. That notion gets carried over to the bathrooms. You expect them to be a quiet, roomy a respite from the frenzy of the rest of the place, but instead it's worse.

The bathroom contains two small stalls, a sink/vanity area and two urinals. Unfortunately there isn't enough space to comfortably accommodate all those items, which means you pretty much have no privacy while there. On my visit, I was forced to use a stall to urinate because of the other places were taken. However, I couldn't get into the stall without bumping into the fellow using the urinal placed at the opening to the stall. Glad I wasn't in that much of a hurry.

The women's room was no better, supposedly, with only two stalls (the line of women waiting to use the bathroom filled the entire hallways leading to the restrooms). "Bleh," said my companion, who stood in the line 20 minutes before getting her chance to pee. "That place just isn't well thought-out."

Also, because of the overcrowding, water tends to be sloshed around a lot. The floors were all damp (which in turn caused anything on the ground -- like TP -- to stick to your show; it doesn't just happen in movies, apparently). The women's room was pretty filthy as a result, I was told, with lots of bunched up paper towels and what-not in the corners.

Marks out of 10:

6. There's potential here amidst the tight fit.

Comments to the Management:

Needs to be expanded and cleaned more often. Of course, that means the cleaning crew has to be able to fit into the bathroom when other people are there, and that just may be impossible during business hours.

Friday 9 February 2007

New York meets Checkers

St Germain
80-90 Turnmill Street,
Clerkenwell, London, EC1M 5QU
United Kingdom

Where is it?

From the entrance go right and follow to the end of the bar, just before the restaurant. You’ll see a doorway on the right (you can see this point in the picture above by the second pendant light on the right). Go through it and follow around to the right and down the stairs. Tackle the stairs (it’s amazing how far they go down!) and at the bottom keep going. The rest rooms are on the right.

What’s it like?

This restaurant is just down the street from the famous Turnmills nightclub, but caters more for the City crowd. Converted from a 19th Century print house it has a cool New York loft feel. The décor in the bar relies on black and white checks. It was quiet when I arrived, and only the fact I was on serious business stopped me from playing checkers using the floor.

The checked theme is carried through to the toilets. Bright and clean these toilets aim at cool style like only the city restaurants can. A large mirror over the sink is surrounded by small black and white tiles. Small tiles always have the potential to make me feel dizzy, but I was so distracted by the shine on the towel dispenser I hardly noticed. Shiny chrome like I have never seen! Followed through with a cool soap dispenser with equally stylish soap, you could hardly fault the place.

Marks out of 10:

9. Cool and chic as only the City can pull off.

Comments to the management:

Sorry we kept the table without eating, but hey we needed to do the interview!

Sunday 4 February 2007

White Stuff makes the Black Horse

The Black Horse
2 Bedford Street,
Woburn. MK17 9QB
United Kingdom

Where is it?

Men and women go in different directions for this one.

Men – From the front entrance, head straight past the bar. Keep an eye to the left and take the door (not the one that leads to the back of the bar but the one just to the right of it). Head down the corridor and the door is just on the right.

Women – From the front head past the bar in to the restaurant section. Keep on going straight thorough the restaurant. At the end there is an entrance towards the right. Take that and the toilets are on the left.

What’s it like?

Our old favourite in Woburn has changed hands and we ended up here in search of good Fish and Chips. We were not disappointed on that front. The outside of this pub is deceptively shabby. The bar itself is a comfortable mixture of new and old.

My female companions said the floor in their toilets needed a little clean, but otherwise it was good. They really liked the White Stuff cream soap and moisturising hand wash, and I have to say I agree. Good soap can remind you for hours afterwards that the restaurant cared that you enjoyed the whole experience.

The male toilets were definitely shabby chic, although not that light and airy. Two sink basins are located on a distressed cupboard that is quite cool. The ceiling is painted a fairly deep red colour, which doesn’t quite match with the terracotta floor tiles. For some reason this bothered me. Was it the feeling that the ceiling was falling in?

Marks out of 10:

7 – We loved the soap.

Comments to the management:

Overall, a good place to go.

Crabbie Cracker Bar

Ozzie's Crabhouse
6060 S Us Highway 1,
Grant, FL USA

Where is it?

You have two options here:
  1. The first bathroom is beyond the bar area but right before the kitchen entrance. From the front door, head straight into the bar, past the cashier and merchandising case on the right, through a collection of over-long picnic tables, towards a set of flip doors marking the entrance to the kitchen. Head towards those doors, but just before you get to the kitchen, look up, for a sign reading "Fishing Worms." The corridor for the toilets is to the right of that sign.
  2. The second bathroom is at the far right of the dining room. From the front door, go immediately right (don't enter the bar area), then left at the back wall, immediately right, and then left again (the north east part of the building) -- the corridor for the toilets will be on your right.
What's it like?

Cleaner than expected, given this is a Cracker bar through and through, though its still less-clean than some gas station toilets in the area (not by much, though). White drywall on the walls -- much of it bent and poorly painted (clearly still in recovery mode from 2004's hurricanes, which damaged the place severely.) Water-stained toilets and sinks. Poor water pressure from the faucets (not helpful when trying to wash crab guts from your hands).

Restroom #1 is smaller and in dingier condition for sure, but it offers more privacy, thanks to the stall. Men's room #2 is cleaner and roomier, but is oddly shaped, with an enclave at the front to house the urinal and the toilet and sink in the back of the facilities -- which makes for an odd experience if two people are in there together.

Marks out of 10:

5. Not good, but not as bad as you'd expect from a place where you'll find tables are covered with newspapers instead of table cloths.

Comments to the Management:

Cleaner would be better, but at the same time it's hard to picture a roadside Cracker Bar as being a place where you'll find immaculate bathrooms. Plus, its a place where the eating process is messy as hell -- and with so many crabs getting smashed to pieces here every day, keeping the loos clean seems like a losing battle if there ever was one.

Shabby Chic but Soapless

The White Hart,
Oxford OX2 8QA
United Kingdom

Where is it?

Entering from the rear (from the garden) go immediately right into the conservatory (the Vine Room). Head for the door on the left (just before the wood burning stove) and go through. Head around to the right. The gents are on the right and females on the left.

Entering from the front, head past the bar and then right to get to the vine room. Head for the door on the left (just before the wood burning stove) and go through. Head around to the right. The gents are on the right and females on the left.

What’s it like?

This really is the best Gastro Pub in the area, and you should love the food. This time around the Sea Bass was a work of art. All dishes were cooked to perfection and tasted excellent. But what about the toilets? Well, getting a flat and having to change a wheel on the way to Wytham meant an early visit to clean hands and a harder than usual test!

These are basically old style pub toilets that have, with a few simple touches, been made into a nice place to go. The décor is clean and bright, but not overdone. A chest of draws gives a homely feel. The soap dispenser is stainless steel and feels expensive; although it was not full enough for our greedy needs this time around. Although they have an electric dryer, they have the most luxurious paper towels you have ever come across. Along with a sink and mirror that are functional you end up with clever shabby chic that fits in entirely with this pub’s whole set up.

Marks out of 10:

8 for the clever simplicity.

Comments to the management:

Just right!

Saturday 3 February 2007

Assault Course Coffee Shop

35 High Street, Witney,
Oxfordshire. OX28 6HP.
United Kingdom

Where is it?

This is an assault course. Really, be careful as you work through the stages.

1) Go through the shop.
2) Get past the staff who want to seat you in the restaurant.
3) Weave through the tables until you get to the very back...
4) ...and skip to the left.
5) Jump through the door.
6) Just to the right is the female baby changing facilities. Go straight and there are individual stools for gents and women.

What’s it like?

This is a great place to stop off and have a sandwich or small meal. The bread is great, and the portions plentiful. Having said that it is always busy and there are so many tables to navigate around that you really can image yourself dodging grenades on a Second World War battlefield as you head off for the toilets.

When you get there the impressive thing, for what is after all only a small coffee place, is that it provides baby changing facilities. Still, I have to question if female only baby changing is PC. Men do change nappies and the ones who make the effort really shouldn’t be discriminated against!

Assuming you don’t have a child in tow, the fact that the toilets are singles is impressive, especially when you get an electric hand dryer in each. They are also of an OK size and clean enough too. However, the décor is dated. Come on, I thought it was against the law to have dado rails in public buildings since 1995!

What’s more a mirror that is far too low continues the assault course theme. Well, either that or its sole purpose is to show your crotch area. Even when crouching down I still couldn’t get a good view of my face. I was tempted to try for the limbo approach, but quite frankly gave up.

Marks out of 10:

7 for the family centred approach and privacy.

Comments to the management:

If you cleaned up the décor and thought about how people used the facilities you’d get a ten.

Pho pho phooey

Pho Pasteur: Authentic Vietnamese Cuisine
Pinar Plaza
710 S. Goldenrod Rd.
Orlando, FL USA 32822

Where Is It?

An arched wall of mirrors divides the back wall of the dining room. To the right (when facing the wall) is the kitchen entrance; to the left, the bathrooms, tucked into the far back corner of the restaurant.

What's It Like?

Disgusting. While the dining room is squeaky clean and comfortable, the restroom looks -- and smells -- like it hasn't been scrubbed (or even sprayed with cleaner) for weeks. Mildew and hard water stains ring the sink, urinal and toilet, the chipped linoleum tile on the floor is filled with grime and the toilet's tank looks like it's had a sledgehammer taken to it (either that, or a karate competition was held in the stall and no one bothered to clean up afterwards). Worse still, the sharp stench of urine stings your nostrils the instant you walk in. When coupled with the multitude of air fresheners sticking to the walls (nearly all of them dried out), you may start wondering if you've accidentally stepped into some long-lost, never-cleaned last-resort toilet in middle of nowhere Indochina.

Marks out of 10:

1. I've seen cleaner toilets in the jungles of Peru, believe it or not.

Comments to the Management:

The rest of your restaurant is so tidy and clean, and the food is phenomenal (some of the best Vietnamese in Orlando) -- so why does your bathroom have to be such a wreck? Given it's appearance, people may soon start to wonder about the cleanliness of the other parts of the restaurant -- like your kitchen.

Fake Royalty?

The Crown Inn & La Cucina Restaurant,
31 High Street, Woodstock,
Oxfordshire OX20 1TE
United Kingdom

Where is it?

To get to the toilets go straight to the bar when you enter and then head left. When you get to the end of the bar go right and down the corridor. The Gents (you cannot miss the sign as it’s 6ft. high) is straight in front. The ladies have to turn right at door to the Gents and take 3 steps where the door is on the left.

What’s it like?

The Crown Inn is a standard pub that has a little pizza restaurant – La Cucina – attached to it. The food is great and the staff friendly, that makes what is about to come so disappointing.

You walk in and think, ‘hey this is quite cool’. Then you soon realise that whoever put these toilets together has schizoid tendencies when it comes to style. Really, the let down here is so great it has to be compared to meeting a princess and waking up the next day to find the alcohol of the night before really did play a cruel trick on you.

So what’s so bad about it. Well it isn’t the quality – some real money was spent here. Still, the tiles are a colour of blue that doesn’t match with the slightly sick coloured floor. The sink is set so low that only a midget could wash their hands in it. Conversely, the stools are a set too high for most. But mostly you have to say it is the mismatches between everything that let it down. Colours, styles, just everything!

What does that leave us with? A restroom that is quite clean but leaves you feeling distinctly grubby. If that’s a contradiction it fits with the style of this place!

Marks out of 10:

6. But oh the angst this place has caused…

Comments to the management:

Next time you spend a few quid, get someone who knows something about style to help out.

Friday 2 February 2007

Ming isn't manky

Ming Bistro
1212 Woodward St
Orlando, FL USA 32803

Where is it?

In a little corrider behind the lobster and fish tanks. (Not sure if they use the same plumbing, though.)

What's it like?

Cute. It's a clean, plane white bathroom, with white tiles, white walls, and white porcelain toilet and sink. To add a little color, there's also a red chair across from the toilet -- upholstered in a traditional Chinese cloth (red, with gold lettering and tassles) -- and a woodblock print of a pagoda or temple. Of course, given that, you must ask -- why the chair?

Marks out of 10:


Comments to the Management:

Great food, good prices, clean bathrooms. Keep up the good work.

Thursday 1 February 2007

Swanky sushi, dark toilets

(image courtesy of

Shari Sushi Lounge
621 E Central Blvd
Orlando, FL USA 32801

Where is it?

Walk down the middle of the restaurant, past the metallic, sheen sushi bar and towards the entrance to the equally metallic and somewhat less sheen storage area and kitchen (you'll see lots of fridges and appliances). But instead of going into the kitchen, turn left -- the bathrooms are there, one-seaters, one for men and one for women.

What's it like?

This is one hipper-than-hip place -- a see-and-be-seen scene in trendy Thornton Park. Food is creative and expensive, and though there better sushi in Orlando (at a better price) the clientele seems to comes here mostly for the scene.

That being said -- this may be one of the hipper bathrooms I've been to in Orlando. So hip, in fact, that I felt a little out of place going in at first. (Thankfully, the laws of nature came to my rescue and got me past the metaphorical velvet rope.) Inside, you'll find marble tile on the walls; lots of black porcelain add-ons (like a square sink that seems lifted out of the counter); and a nifty faucet that uses a lever instead of knobs to turn the water on. Toilets (both urinal and commode in the men's room) are your standard white editions you find everywhere else, but they look like works of art when juxtaposed against the black floor tiles and marble walls.

Only drawback -- the lighting is very soft, and with all that black inside, it makes the room a little bit dark. Or "very dark, I could barely see in there"-- as one of my dining companions put it.

Marks out of 10:

8. Clean and hip. I've never felt so cool -- at least not in a bathroom.

Comments to the Management:

A little more light might help. But then it might hurt the hipness factor some -- which is certainly the restaurant's top priority.