Thursday 31 January 2008

Expect Zany Gag When Leaving Toilets at Macaroni Grill

Romano's Macaroni Grill
7123 Red Bug Lake Road
Oviedo, FL USA 32765

Where is it?

From the entrance, you'll see that the place is split into two halves. On the left is the dining room and bar, on the right an open kitchen. A somewhat wide walkway separates the two. Walk along that walkway until you reach the back wall of the place, then step through a hallway to the right there and enter the enclave found there. The bathrooms are there.

What's it like?

This Italian chain rivals Olive Garden for quality of food (some of it is good, some is okay, some a little ill-thought). Decor-wise, the dining room looks like a mix between Francis Ford Coppola's version of Little Italy (lots of dark woods, wires of light bulbs hanging overhead and plenty of loud Italian music in the air.... "When the moon hits your eye/like a big pizza pie.....") and a modern Tuscan villa (stone-tile floors, sleek counter tops, etc.).

Unlike its competitors, the emphasis here, as anyone who has visited will tell you, is on drinking. When placing your order -- even if it's for an 11am lunch meeting, as was my visit -- the waiters waste no time in offering you their "wine deal," which states that if you pay for a glass of house brand wine (and I do mean "house brand -- the chain's name proudly displayed right there on the label!), all subsequent glasses will be charged to your bill on the "honor system." Which, of course, implies that if you get too drunk drinking this stuff, at least you won't be drunk and poor. Right?

Being that my visit was at 11am, I didn't explore the possibilities of having many glasses of cheap wine with my ravioli lunch special. Nevertheless, I did venture into the bathrooms, where I found a classy little environment filled with old-fashioned (more dark woods, dark brass fixtures) and modern touches (like a granite vanity and sunken stainless steel sinks). Medium-toned tile covered both walls and floor, which looked darker than it was because of the low lighting in the place. (The experience reminded me much of my visit to Bennigan's, except with an Italian-American slant instead of an Irish angle. Hmm...)

It was clean for the most part; the only bit of uncleanliness I found was the spilled water on the vanity counter. Still, as mentioned earlier, this was a visit made at 11am, so I don't imagine the place had been used much by customers. Given the boisterous nature of the place -- and packed dining room, even for 11am -- I imagine the toilets can get pretty unruly after a lunch or dinner rush. Once again, I was reminded of my Bennigan's experience.

Of course, it should be noted that the bathroom's best moment comes when you're leaving: The door leading in and out has two unique sides to it: From the outside, a sign on it states (in English and Italian) that you are entering the men's room; from the inside a sign on it reads "Women," which implies that once leaving the men's room you will be entering the women's room. Pretty zany, no?

On a side note: I should say that one of my female lunch guests got very confused by this little gag (except she saw a sign for the Men's Room instead of Women's Room) -- mostly because she didn't quite understand it -- and that in turn made the gag (which I initially rolled my eyes to) quite amusing. Go figure.

Marks out of 10:

8. Same score are Bennigan's, ironically enough.

Comments to the Management:

It's a good chain restaurant bathroom that has some fun with its concept -- which I like. Just make sure it stays clean throughout the day and you've got a winner.

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