Friday 30 November 2007

Serviceable Jack in the Box Holds Few Surprises

Jack in the Box
330 N Sandhill Blvd
Mesquite, NV USA 89027

Where is it?

When facing the order counter, look to your left and you'll see a corridor stretching behind the kitchen and into the back of the place. Head down that hall and you'll find the bathrooms there.

What's it like?

This fast-food chain, popular in the West, offers decent fast food fare like burgers, fries and the lot, with the menu focusing of late on sandwiches put on ciabata bread (apparently it's America's new bread of choice, because it's chewy instead of soft and tasteless, like Wonder Bread). It's not a high-end dining place at all, but it's cheap and decent enough to satiate the hunger pangs while you're on a multi-hour drive to Vegas, like I was at the time of my stop.

This location, in a new strip mall set in the boom town of Mesquite (which just five years ago -- on my last pass through -- consisted of nothing more than two casinos and now consists of a vast array of home developments, shopping malls, golf courses and other entertainment venues) is a bit tricky to get to, because of the way the road winds around the city (feels like a roundabout, and thus you drive through it as thus, but it really is just a windy road). Once inside, you'll find a clean restaurant filled with sparkling tiles, linoleum tables and booths and a stainless steel order counter with light-up menu overhead.

The bathrooms offer more of the same generic-ness: White tiles on the walls, with lime green tile accent lines; white fixtures; off-white/beige stall dividers;, grey floor tiles with black borders. Nothing too creative, mind you, but clean and serviceable enough -- especially in terms of fast food restaurant bathrooms, which at times can be pretty awful. One odd thing of note: The place was missing a mirror over the sink. What's that all about?

If found some little wear and tear on the fixtures, but that's to be expected. Everything was in working order and nothing was installed crookedly or leaking. (It's still a relatively new establishment, I gather, so how bad can it be?). Unfortunately, the noise factor is a little heavy, especially in the way the restaurant's entrance door sensor rings (it chimes every time the door opens or closes) and carries down that hallway leading to the toilets. It was so distracting and invading and continuous that for a while I thought the place was being flooded with customers and that my private time in the bathroom would soon come to an end. Later though, when I exited and went to the counter to order some food, I found out the door wasn't quite shut all the way and the desert wind was actually responsible for blowing it open repeatedly. The place was empty, outside of myself and the employees.

Marks out of 10:

7. Almost an eight, were it not for the missing mirrors and that incessant door chiming.

Comments to the Management:

Install some mirrors and fix that door!

Thursday 29 November 2007

Outhouse Review #4 -- Bryce Canyon -- Cream of the Crop at 9115 FT

Bryce Canyon National Park
Bryce Canyon UT USA 84764-0201

Where is it?

This outhouse is part of a set of them found at the junction of Rainbow Point and Yovimpa , the very last stop on the Bryce Canyon motorway, which it about 20 miles inside the park (from the main entrance). It's also at the highest part of the park, at 9115 ft above sea level. The area features breathtaking overlooks that stretch more than 200 miles, as well as vistas of the southernmost part of Bryce canyon and the enormous rugged valley behind it, which makes up the Grand Staircase National Monument.

The stop is shaped like an elongated rotary, with covered sitting areas placed along the tops of the cliffs and a group of about a dozen cabins pitted in the middle. The facilities are located inside those cabins, four outhouses per cabin.

To get here, enter the park and follow the road signs to Rainbow Point.

What's it like?

Yes, these are still outhouses, but they are certainly the cream of the crop -- at least as outhouses are concerned.

Outside, the cabins are metallic and painted dark brown, to look like they are made of wood (a la log cabin design). Inside, the walls are painted the same brown color and the floors are made of concrete, painted off-white. They hold, like all outhouses, a compost toilet, rolls of paper and a fixed pump containing hand sanitizer (a nice touch, since the facilities lack plumbing).

Unlike other outhouses visited recently, these are spotless inside and out. I didn't find a single scratch in the paint, inside or out, or any trash or waste on the floor of room itself. Considering these are compost toilets, there was nary a smell about them. Part of that had to do with the gusting winds outside, but still for an outhouse it wasn't bad at all.

They were also impeccably clean and remarkably serene, considering the four-to-a-building setup. My visit coincided with a stop made by a tour bus full of elderly, all of whom rushed to the bathroom while just as I entered my station. Even with all stalls filled, I heard nothing of my neighbors and felt perfectly at piece. Few outhouses, let alone public toilets in general, offer such luxury.

Better still: It was just below 40F on the morning of my visit, and I poorly planned for this, wearing only a thin spring jacket to warm me up. It was cold outside (and got warmer as I descended the canyon, naturally) but the construction of these outhouses were so solid and insulating that once I stepped inside I felt comfortable. Not warm, but not freezing either.

Marks out of 10:

9. Slight stench aside (these are outhouses, after all), these are wonderful facilities.

Comments to the Management:

Kudos on every respects.

Wednesday 28 November 2007

1000 Signs in 1000 Palms Canyon OR Outhouse Review #3 – California Strikes Back

Caochella Valley Preserve
1000 Palms Canyon
Near Palm Spings, CA USA

Where is it?

From the parking area (car park would be an over statement as it is really a bit of desert with a few rocks around it) head into the reserve. Keep your wits about you though as there are wild animals out to get you. No kidding, a cougar was seen near the cars that very morning! Continue keeping the visitor centre to the right. Head off across the picnic area and you’ll come across the out house.

What’s it like?

What I knew about Palm Springs CA before I got there was limited to a couple of stereotypes. All I really knew was that its likely to be warmer than Aspen and was full of old people and, as with anywhere where old people go for winter, was likely to have little to offer. I guess on the first point I was proved right. Leaving Aspen on a cold crisp sunny morning at 21F and arriving at 4pm in the springs to find it hot, dry and 95F certainly did that! But did the place have little to offer?

On the basis of my ill founded stereotypes I’d given myself a little less than 20 hours for this stop, but after squeezing my meetings into the evening and first thing I found myself with a couple of hours to test out my theory. Well, lets just say other than a half decent Thai meal on the main street (the waitress gave me fantastic service after I asked for chop sticks - obviously ignoring the other customers who’s fingers couldn’t cope with the idea) the best thing to do involved the best outhouse we’ve yet featured.

'Better than Red Rock?' I hear you say – well lets say the instructions, safety features, and welcome relief have to make this place the best out house I've been in for many years! So what gives?

Well, if you’ve seen Eyal’s review of Red Rock Canyon you’ll already have the idea, and given I was in suit and trousers, you’ll also understand that I looked a little out of place. Dusty, hot, but with spectacular scenery that made the effort of polish my shoes later that night well worth it.

Once there, you have to say the out house is cute from outside. White paint and a pagoda make it look like its on Martha’s Vineyard rather than in the scorching desert. The first thing you notice inside is that it’s pretty damned clean for a toilet in the middle of the desert. Then it starts to hit you that, yeah, you really are in the desert and there isn’t any running water for this pit stop. But this is where this operation is so good. It’s not busy and is ultimately private (half of the hut all to yourself) so you can afford to take your time.

Then there are the signs.

There’s the ones on operation. If you were wondering how it all works its all there for you on the signs. You are using a recycling (composting to be exact) toilet by Clivus. And could it be any simpler? No this is the ultimate in toilets. No flush, no taps, no towels and the sanitizing soap smelled good too. Cool.

Then there are the signs for entertainment. I knew at least three species of bat by the time I left.

AND THEN there are the safety signs. You soon decide to watch out that there are no stray mountain lions in the cabin before you enter. And was I just paranoid when checking under the toilet seat for rattlesnakes?

Overall, for an outhouse (did I say that already Eyal?) this place was pretty damned good! Take a trip and see. Honest you won't regret it.

Marks out of 10:

7. A desert oasis.

Comments to the management:

Fantastic facilities in the middle of nowhere.

Monday 26 November 2007

Outhouse Review #2: Zion National Park -- Stinky Yet Serene

Zion National Park
Springdale, UT USA 84767

Where is it?

These facilities are located at the Temple of Sinewava area of the park, which is the last stop on the bus route that goes through the park.

What's it like?

These bathrooms, found at the mouth of the Riverside Walk trail at Zion (which lead you to the Virgin River and the mouth of the canyon), work much like mass market facilities, in that they can accommodate several people at a time instead of just one (like a regular outhouse).

Design wise, the building they are in matches well with the stunning rock vistas around it, and the wood composition makes it look like a facility one would use in frontier times. They offer running water and flush urinals and toilets, which makes them more like traditional toilets than outhouses. However, they are also located in the middle of the wilderness and smell sharply of urine and waste -- like a regular outhouse. They are somewhat clean, however expect to see lots of trash, mis-thrown paper towels and mud on the floor, as well as some obvious signs of wear and tear. Also, the stench inside can be so sharp at times that you may want to hurry your stop in order to return to the fresh air outside.

Note: The toilets here are also located at one of the most popular stops on the Zion tram, so expect to hear and see lots of traffic, both inside the toilets and out. Lots of tour groups use the sitting area at the base of the stop as a place to eat lunch or gather with other group members who have gone off to do their own thing (it was so busy I couldn't get a free moment to take a picture of the interior -- sorry). Not really a place for privacy, but then again you don't have any other choice because of the location.

Marks out of 10:

5. It's the only game in town, and though it's not terrible it's not nearly as eloquent, private or clean as the outhouse visited in Bryce Canyon (review coming soon).

Comments to the Management:

Needs a complete overhaul, including paint job and updating of fixtures. Needs a serious deep cleaning too -- and adding in some air fresheners wouldn't hurt (unless it attracted animals, of course).

Wednesday 21 November 2007

Chez Panisse Eschews Country Feel for Cannes Glamour

Chez Panisse,
2 Boulevard Jean Hibert ,

Where is it?

Drag yourself away from the view of the Mediterranean and prepare for a long trip. From the street side head into the restaurant and towards the back. Pass to the left of the counter. Follow around to the right and there is a doorway. Go through it up the step. The door to the toilet is on the right….

But then, if it is engaged, as it was when I was visiting, turn about and you’ll see some signs for a first floor alternative. Head across the lobby and up the stairs. On the right you’ll find the entrance to the toilets.

What’s it like?

Cannes is famous for its beaches, boats, and most of all its film festival. Great beaches, fantastic weather, (remember we were running from the summer floods in the UK) and even more fantastic scenery add up to a fantastic place to go.

After a couple of beers or so (well 25cl is can hardly count as one can it?) around the corner overlooking the harbour, it was certainly time to find somewhere to eat. After a stroll down Boulevard Jean Hibert, Chez Panisse was determined to look like the favourite this particular evening.

The restaurant has a great combination of style and cosy. Whilst clean and modern it keeps an element of true French country style with it. The food lived up to the Mediterranean’s reputation and was tasty and reasonable in price. Great views and good service was also on offer and a street side spot made for a great place to eat.

And the toilets? Well despite the trek what you get is of high quality hotel style, rather than something more rustic that you might expect from the restaurant. They were pretty damned good. Marble counter tops, floor tiles, and lime stone tile is and modern fixtures makes this more than a comfortable place to go.

That with the great location has to be something good.

Marks out of 10:

9 for great style and a touch of luxury.

Comments to the management:

Great toilets for a great location.

Tuesday 20 November 2007

Outhouse Review #1: Red Rocks Canyon -- Yup, It's an Outhouse

Red Rocks Canyon
Las Vegas, NV USA

Where is it?

This national conservation area, located on the south end of Las Vegas (about 15 minutes from the Strip, via HW 215), offers visitors a chance to drive through the recreation area on a 15-mile car loop, with many marked stops along the way. The outhouse visited here is at the third stop on that loop.

What's it like?

It's an outhouse, that's what it's like. Did you expect something else?

This is a single-toilet structure, set in the back of a parking lot that leads to walking trails into the rocks behind it. Outside, there are wonderful views of the multi-colored stone and scorched desert, as well as solid vistas of Vegas beyond it. Inside, it's a white room with a compost toilet and a toilet paper holder, nothing more. It's somewhat clean but also somewhat -- it's an outhouse, essentially.

The inside of the place could use another coat of paint, just so it won't look so run down. Also, it would be nice if they included some Purell or something of the like inside to sanitize your hands with after the fact. And it's very stuffy inside, since there's no real ventilation and it's sitting in the middle of a desert (my visit was in late September, and it was hot then, but I imagine it's brutal inside this place in the summer -- hot enough to cook in, at least).

But then, as I said, it's an outhouse -- basic facilities for those in dire need, nothing more -- not a comfort castle in any means, so what can you expect? As an outhouse, it's above average. As a bathroom, it's surprisingly more clean than a number of restaurant and gas station toilets I've visited -- as well as a few homes. It smells a bit off, but it's an outhouse, so I guess it's supposed to. At least the view outside will make you forget any misgivings once you've finished your business, right?

Marks out of 10:

6. Not bad for an outhouse. (Did I mention it's an outhouse?)

Comments to the Management:

Needs another coat of paint and a Purell dispenser. Otherwise, not bad. The second best of the three outhouses visited on this trip -- and loads better than the one I visited in Winter Park on that strange occasion.

Monday 19 November 2007

The Power of Accurate Observation is not Good for the Shaw Café

92 Queen Street
L0S 1J0

Where is it?

OK from the front entrance head straight to the bar area and then left to follow the bar around. You’ll find a stairwell that spirals down toward the toilets. They are right of where you come off the stairs.

What’s it like?

Over a year before this trip I’d passed by the Shaw Café one evening when it was closed and thought it looked like a good place to stop and have a light bite to eat. The building looks inviting and has tables by the windows so you can look out at the passers by. There is also a restaurant on the upper floor. In fact you’d have to say the stairwell is the most impressive thing about the place.

On the October night a year before I’d not noticed its name or the statue outside. My father had a picture of (George) Bernard Shaw hanging in our house all the time I was a kid so it was instantaneously recognisable. But what would GBS think about being made a tourist attraction? Was this restaurant, which after all only recently replaced a gas station, really in good taste?

Let’s remember that he was an accomplished Nobel Prize winning playwright, and founding member of the Fabians (a socialist reforming movement in which the current ruling Labour party has its roots). His later life certainly reflected his socialist tendencies as he tended his gardens in his fairly basic Hertfordshire home.

Well, as the man himself says there is no love sincerer than the love of food, which is a pity as the Shaw café didn’t excel on this front to be sure. What looked like good cheesecake turned out to be dry, stale mush with some half rotten fruit on top. Yuk, yuk, yuk!

It’s also true that the power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it. And this seems to be true of those who review this place on other web sites. Oh lovely they say. Obviously not seen the toilets I groan.

Well actually they weren’t that horrendously bad. I guess the fixtures were clean at least. But then the place seemed generally down at heal and on the slide to oblivion. These toilets are clearly under the staircase. Not a bad thing in itself, but the area by the entrance is cluttered and has that spare room feel! Not inviting at all. Then you enter to find the dreaded paper sign with decaying tape and folded edges. Turn the knob for paper towels. Are you really saying your clientele hasn’t used towel dispensers before?

Then there is the crucial design floor. Well it is actually the floor, or the tiles to be exact. The quarry tiles look dirty and are of the sort that, whether dirty or not, they will always look dirty. Add to this the cheap sink surrounds – are they really plastic! – and the out of kilter tiles on the walls and what you have is a place that generally feels grubby.

Marks out of 10:

Silence is the most perfect expression of scorn.

Comments to the management:

Oh if you really want to know - Five. Disappointing, like the food.

Sunday 18 November 2007

Autostadt: Technical Flair with Design Elegance

38440 Wolfsburg

Where is it?

If you drive a Volkswagen that is in any way modern take this tip before you leave the car. Take a note of exactly which slot in which row of the car park you are in. Then take a note of exactly which car park. Then on the walk to the museum, chalk a mark on the road every so often to help you on the way back. Virtually nobody, and I mean nobody in this town drives anything other than a Volkswagen. Believe you me this will save you from having to wait until every other person has left in the evening to find your car.

Once you get to the main building, enter the main doors and head into the building towards the information desk. Towards the right you’ll see a set of stairs that head down in to the basement. Down there you will find a gently lit subterranean hall. Head across the hall towards the left and you’ll find the toilets.

What’s it like?

OK why the big deal about checking where you parked here? Well this is Wolfsburg and Wolfsburg is Volkswagen. We left town as the shift changed and I’m not kidding you that the 3-lane highway was jammed with cars, every one a VW. The hunt around the car park could easily take enough time for three pit stops in the toilet if you happened to forget exactly where your car is.

Autostadt is the VW museum. I didn’t expect to spend more than a couple of hours here, but was surprised to find myself leaving 6 hours later. Really, this is a good family day out, which is as cool for the kids as for the car enthusiast. As well as some of the older European cars, and the last Beetle to come of the Brazilian production line in 2003, each of the VW owned brands has a section of the park. Bentley, Audi, Skoda, etc are all in attendance. The restaurants are also pretty damned good. Honestly, great waiter service and a huge pizza and beer for less than 10 euro is good any time.

What impressed me most about the whole set up was the attention to detail and design. This is the same for the toilets too. Quality doors to the entry. Hugh coloured glass dividers between the stalls all start you thinking these are not just any toilets. Come on, they even has a separate small toilet set just for the kids.

Then you hit on the square sinks. The first thing you think is that they shriek of the impracticality you sometimes get in the more fancy restaurants. But then, when using them, you forget they’re so fancy after all. They’re somehow easy to use, and you find yourself just using them with ease.

What makes these toilets so good is what makes you think they look just a little stark before you walk in. They’ve been designed by car designers. For all the fancy looks they are so easy to use. They work! I guess this is a product of having the best car designers around. Things in cars these days have to look good and be easy to live with. If they don’t people just don’t buy your cars. Volkswagen know this and have certainly managed to transfer it to these toilets.

Marks out of 10:

9. Superb to look at and practical with it.

Comments to the management:

Solid, sound, practical, technical marvel…

Friday 16 November 2007

Darkness Rules at Daniel Boulud Brasserie

Daniel Boulud Brasserie at the Wynn
Las Vegas Resort and Country Club
Las Vegas, NV USA

Where is it?

This fantastic restaurant overlooks the Wynn Hotel's lagoon, which sits on the south side of the hotel. Just follow the signs to the lagoon and head to the bottom level of the hotel.

Once inside, go to the very back of the place to find the toilets. It's one of those restaurants that occupies a long, narrow space (to supply diners with solid views of the lagoon and its somewhat psychedelic nightly light show -- which features some nifty singing animatronics, fancy lighting effects, piped-in music and the like), so to get there you'll enter the restaurant, pass the greeter's counter, head through the two-tiered dining room, and enter a dimly lit hallway in the back of the place (it's adjacent to the kitchen entrance). Head all the way to the back of that hallway to find the bathrooms.

What's it like?

As I said, this is an outstanding French restaurant, offering the creations of a chef that many consider to be one of the best in the USA. The menu consists of traditional brasserie fare, with a touch of Americanism thrown in. There's a hamburger here that's stuffed with foie gras and braised beef short ribs, a succulent beef en daube, tantalizing 32 oz ribeye, delicious crock of Belgian-style mussels, an outrageously delicious homemade charcuterie platter and more. Fantastic food -- and set in a boisterous but friendly neo-Roman-inspired dining room (lots of columns and arched enclaves) that overlooks the aforementioned. (It also happens to be reasonably priced by Las Vegas Strip standards. Our meal came to $140 for four full courses with wine, which isn't that bad for this tourist mecca, if you think about it.)

Of course, the restaurant is dimly lit, and while that makes for a more elegant setting, it creates a slightly off-putting effect in the bathrooms. Because they are at the back of the restaurant, and at the end of a hallway, the bathrooms here tend to serve as a net for all the noise coming from the kitchen and dining room. This makes for a bit of a noisy bathroom-going experience.

Don't get me wrong: These are elegant facilities. The walls and floor are single color slabs of sleek color. The toilet stalls (like at other Strip-restaurant hotel bathrooms) are fully separated rooms. The vanity is a stylish metallic counter featuring two trough-like sinks and a giant mirror behind it. The urinals are mounted to the walls in a way that heightens the sheerness of the walls (like they are in Okada, also in the Wynn). The decor is spare but appropriate -- dried tree branches dangle beside the vanity and in a few other spaces, adding to the minimalism portrayed here.

Yet it's dim and loud, and when those characteristics are coupled they make the place feel a little too busy for business, if you know what I mean. The effect is even worse when another person is in the room with you -- all that noise and dim lighting make you feel like you're surrounded and ultimately prove to be a bit suffocating. This is a classic case of design not being able to overcome the obstacles against it.

Marks out of 10:

7. A very nice bathroom. It just falls prey to the elements around it.

Comments to the Management:

The decor is great, as are the facilities. You just need to create a greater sense of isolation here. Dim lighting alone doesn't do it.

Tuesday 13 November 2007

Blinding are the Lights at THE QUOD

Quod Brasserie,
92 - 94 High Street,
United Kingdom

Where is it?

From the entrance head to the right past the bar towards the right hand wall. The entrance to the toilets is half way down the restaurant on the right hand wall. The mens’ is then on the right.

What’s it like?

The QUOD is in the centre of historic Oxford, but there’s nothing old fashioned about this trendy bar come restaurant. From the cool bar that inevitably meets you in the centre of restaurant floor, to the restored brick this place exudes cool, but cool that has good historic foundations in a converted Georgian banking hall building.

The Quod gets its name from the colleges around and about. Magdalene, Merton, Brasenose, University, All Souls and Queens are all within spitting distance, although you’d not do something as uncouth round here? The food is surprisingly good for a location that could sell itself to the tourists without any problem. Its not got top restaurant flair or quality, but then again it isn’t top restaurant prices either. All in all it’s a good place to meet friends and have a bite to eat before going on for a pint or two elsewhere.

The toilets are also pretty damned cool too. The stainless steel finish on almost everything and the bright lighting literally blinded me when I walked in. Shiny is not the word for it. And no I’d not had one too many, I was the driver this particular evening. Once my eyes adjusted to the lighting levels it was easy to see the quality of ‘mosaic’ tile on the wall and decent stone on the floor. These facilities felt like they were made to last, like the rest of the building.

Add to this that they were pretty damned clean, if a little busy on this particular Thursday night, then you have what I can only say is a pretty good effort at stylish toilets in keeping with a great location.

Marks out of 10:

9 – for the cool style in a historic setting.

Comments to the management:

Keep up the cool – and maybe cool down the lighting?

Monday 12 November 2007

Okada Offers Oasis of Opulence

Wynn Las Vegas
3131 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV USA 89109

Where is it?

Finding the restaurant is increasingly more difficult than finding the restroom once you are there. To be honest, I have no idea how I stumbled upon this place -- we were just walking through the Wynn to see the sights while waiting for our dinner reservations at Daniel Boulud (reviewed later this week) and roamed into a back corner of the mega-hotel to find this place. Seeing that we had to use the restroom at the time, the discovery couldn't have been more opportune.

So, you may have to ask someone on Wynn's staff how to get there. But once there, and once inside, head down the hallway to the left of the greeting counter and you'll find the bathrooms there.

What's it like?

This is a classy, upscale Japanese place filled with black marble glass, curvaceous tables and lots of shiny wood fixtures. It's also not as expensive as one would assume -- most sushi and Japanese places I passed on the Strip won't let you get out of there without spending at least $20 per California roll. This one was at about half of that (decent for Strip prices, if you think about it) and boasted a pretty varied and impressive menu to boot.

Unfortunately the kitchen wasn't open on my visit so I was unable to sample the food. (I'll definitely be trying to next time I visit Vegas.) However, the people here were kind enough to let me use the bathroom. I am in their debt for this.

The facilities here offer a Zen-like approach, much like the one found at the outstanding Sensi at the Bellagio. But unlike that place, which offers amazing solace for only one person, this bathroom can accommodate more people at once while still providing an environment that feels private, spiritual, sophisticated, clean and practical.

What impresses you first about this place is the decor. The floors are covered with off-white stone tile that resemble the pattern found on a stone path in rural Japan, if you will. The walls alternate between jet single colors of black and light brown, and the fixtures (like in Sensi) stick out from the walls as if they were pieces of modern art. The urinals are small, yet functional and elegant, almost flower-like in design (as if Georgia O'Keefe has created them), and the stalls serve more like private rooms than mere stalls. The fact that everything is spotless (granted, I was here before the place opened) made it all the more amazing.

The centerpiece here is the vanity. Featuring two stations, the area boasts flat glass sinks that drain away water in soft-flowing sheets (like an infinity pool), personalized mirrors behind each sink, and two faucets that look and work like spigots from a water spring (they contain motion sensors to get the water flowing, of course, but still it's pretty neat). Metallic soap dispensers and ring towers of thick paper towels sit in the gaps between each sink station. It's elegant, sleek and functional.

Marks out of 10:

11. Heavenly on all accounts.

Comments to the Management:

Normally, I would suggest adding a divider wall between the urinals, but then that would ruin the decorative perfection of this place..... so I've got nothing......

Sunday 11 November 2007

What’s the Stink?

The Stinking Rose
325 Columbus Avenue
San Francisco, CA USA 94133

Where is it?

When you go through the front door there is a bar in front of you. Head towards the bar and then left. The door to the rest rooms is in on the right in the corner. Go through the door and you’ll find the toilets across the hallway.

What’s it like?

The Stinking Rose is by all means a favourite of many people I know. No less than 3 people had, unprompted, told me to eat in this place before I got across the States. Taking their name from their most used ingredient, Garlic, this place prides itself on using the vegetable in every meal they offer. Does that sound appetising? Well I wasn’t so sure.

One of the first things you notice though is that this place is fun. They have the longest garlic braid (348 feet long). And they also have a garlic making machine (well I think its that) over the bar.

The food was also excellent. The 40-clove roast chicken with garlic mash was one of the best meals on my trip, at a reasonable price too. The garlic was not too prominent and complimented both the chicken and mash well. There was also a good selection of beer that sliped down well with the chicken. Nevertheless, having met a similar concept at the Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight in the UK [] I gave the Garlic Ice cream a miss.

Given the garlic odours in the restaurant you might expect the toilets to smell a bit too. Well they didn’t smell, but they were pretty bear unkempt and unfriendly place to be. The first thing you notice when you go in, given that this is a set up for a single person, is how large they are. I guess this doesn’t help give a friendly feel, but I’m not so sure that it explained why they were so cold. Honestly, you want to speed through just because of the temperature. Then there is the décor. You notice that the place is pretty dark and then you see that the walls are covered in grime. Dirty is not the word for it. When it comes out on the photo’s you know they’re dirty as hell.

Beyond this you’d have to say the basins etcetera were obviously cleaned. And there was a veritable overload of different toilet papers ready for use. So, its not that there was no effort being put in to keeping these toilets clean, it’s the general feeling that the room as a whole was on the verge of irretrievable decay.

My verdict has to be that unlike the restaurant itself these toilets are not a fun place to be.

Marks out of 10:

5 – You might use the utilities without fear, but they’d certainly not be your first choice!

Comments to the management:

Such a fun place to eat, but your toilets are in dire need of refurbishment.