Wednesday 27 June 2007

Carmel's Offers Class, Elegance

398 21st Street
Vero Beach, FL USA 32960

Where is it?

A little tricky to find but not impossible. From the main entrance, head into the left-most dining room and then turn right, towards the room's back wall. Once there, go left again and then take an immediate right, heading down a lengthy hallway leading to the back of the restaurant. The bathrooms are there.

And don't worry: In case you get lost along the way, the fine, friendly waitstaff here will politely provide directions.

What's it like?

Carmel's is one of Vero's more upscale restaurants, a place to hit more for special occasions than everyday dining. While I find the food good, I was not awed by it (a little too much reliance on sauces to cover ingredients that should be tasty enough on their own); having said that, the salads and wine selection were very impressive.

The decor is stately: Boldly colored walls decorated with various pieces of art (both original and prints), white table cloths, dark wood tables and chairs, clean carpets and more.

The loos extend the motif, offering a secluded, spotless environment in which to do your business. The decor here is tidy, modern, clean and simplistic, with elegant brown-red tiles covering the floor and part of the walls, and either off-white or matted green paint used in the remaining spaces. The walls are also dotted with old photographs fitted in oversized frames -- a touch that adds an air of sophistication and personality to the surroundings and at times made me think I was in an art gallery instead of an upscale restaurant.

The sinks are made of gleaming porcelain and the mirrors hang beside them in a stately manner, almost like art themselves thanks to their ornate frames. Paper towels are offered here, but they are held in classy holders to fit the decor.

The lone stall in the men's room has been set up as a separate room, not just as a stall, with a floor-to-ceiling door built in to offer complete closure from the rest of the bathroom. It's washing facilities, albeit smaller than the main one, still radiate with the same artfulness and warmth as found in the rest of the place.

The only drawback: The place uses store-bought hand soap instead of having a built-in dispenser here. But then again, this little faux pas adds a human element to the experience -- while it aims for perfection, the store-bought soap makes one feel that the designers knows the loo will always be a little short of that mark, and that visitors won't mind because the rest of the place reaches such heights.

Marks out of 10:

10. Artful and elegance through and through.

Comments to the Management:

Well done. One of the best strip mall bathrooms I've ever seen and experienced.

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