Thursday 1 May 2008

Teremok's Creepy Toilets Seem To Take Design Cues from "CSI"

60 Nevsky Prospekt
St. Petersburg, Russia

Where is it?

From the entrance, go up the stairs. At the top, you'll see the order counter to your left and a small hallway on your right. Head down the hallway -- the toilets will be down there, on your left.

What's it like?

This fast food blini restaurant set on the heart of St. Petersburg's main tourist drag, Nevsky Prospekt, looks and feels just like any other fast food restaurant. There's an order counter with an illuminated menu hanging overhead, an open kitchen filled short-order cooks and fry cooks putting together dishes at lightning speed, and cashiers and clean-up personnel in branded uniforms.

Given that, you'd expect the place to serve run of the mill food. But it doesn't. This blini house, a St. Petersburg staple, serves some of the best Russian pancakes and soups I've ever had -- and each item (save the for soups, of course, which take longer to cook) are prepared fresh for you right after you order. Try the mushroom and cream blini with a bowl of hot meat-filled borscht on the side -- you won't regret it.

While I had decent meals elsewhere in the city, the food here happened to serve the best variations of these dishes I had while in town. And that includes some high-end sit-down restaurants I visited. The fact that it's very inexpensive and the staff is very friendly to non-Russian-speaking visitors makes it all the more enjoyable.

Having said that, the bathrooms here are a complete left turn from the dining room decor. Design-wise, the place is pretty straight and narrow. Standard white toilets and sinks, white stalls, etc. The floor is covered in a black-and-white checkerboard tile pattern.

However, the facilities here are lit with black lights, which in turn makes walking through them feel like you're stepping through a crime scene. Everything turns blue beneath the lights, and all the areas where you'll find dirt, grime or water become highlighted -- it's a little creepy, I must admit. (There are also some crystal specks built into on the checkerboard floor as well, which made it feel like I was walking through a haunted house.) Clearly, the popularity of CSI had pervaded the Russian fast food restaurant market!

Of course, while the lighting made the visit here unique, there were a few drawbacks (which, I guess, just comes with the territory). When I went to wash my hands, the water that remained on my hands after I shook them dry and went for the air dryer made it look like I was auditioning for the part of Lady Macbeth. A little uncomfortable, to say the least, especially when someone walked in on me at the time and caught me staring blankly at my hands (the toilet accommodates about five people comfortably) -- I imagine he thought the worst of me, if you catch my drift.

Of course, I'm also thinking the blue light might serve a practical purpose as well, helping the staff locate grime here more easily. And it must be doing a good job because these bathrooms were spotless, outside of some spilled water here and there.

Marks out of 10:

8. Clean, comfortable and surprisingly eerie, which is something you don't quite expect from a public restroom in a fast food restaurant. Not exactly what I expect to experience when I enter a public bathroom, but I was so surprised by this I had only praise. Go figure.

Comments to the Management:

Pump in some house music and people will think they're in a dance club. And for Halloween, put skeletons in the stalls.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey, I came upon your article searching for teremok, which I love. But your toilet issue reminded me that we actually saw this a couple times in russia and were told (or came to the conclusion) that it was an anti drug measure to prevent people from shooting up in the bathrooms. Don't know if there was any truth to it but the lighting in that teremok was seen elsewhere in Russia.