Wednesday 23 July 2008

Strollo's Upscale Toilet Mixes Traditional Design with Appealling Modern Flourishes

Strollo's Cucina Due
200 W Fairbanks Ave
Winter Park, FL USA

Where is it?

This is a wide, thin place. So in finding the bathroom, it's best to situate yourself here in that regard: There's a large kitchen in the back, with a sprawling deli case filled with various meats, cheeses and prepared dishes separating the dining room/shopping area (which takes up the back half of the place) from the kitchen. A deli/cafe area sits to the far right, when facing the deli case, and a small teaching kitchen (where the place's cooking classes are held) to the left. There's also an upper level dining room, though that was closed on my visit.

To find the bathrooms, head towards the teaching kitchen. Just before reaching it, and just past the cashier at the far end of the deli case, you'll see a small hallway open up on your right (while facing the teaching kitchen). Go down that hallway to find the toilets.

What's it like?

This mammoth storefront may be the closest thing the greater Orlando area has at the moment to a traditional Italian meat store and deli. The design here is decidedly modern, featuring plenty of woods and brick work, along with wood tables for diners to sit at (not many though, making it a bit difficult to find a seat during peak periods) and metal racks and various shelves spread out over the dining area, holding a smattering specialty foods, most of them imported from Italy or France. Not exactly a great gourmet market -- it's more of an eatery with some specialty foods spread out -- but you can see the place evolving and I imagine in the coming year or two it will offer a great deal more than what is there now, and I can't wait for that.

The kitchen and deli produce some delicious breads as well as several enticing prepared dishes, most of them upscale spins on Italian classics. It also peddles a modest array of Italian-based meats and cheeses. The far right end of the counter (when facing it) serves as an upscale deli, churning out fanciful soup and sandwich creations, as well as a la carte servings of the foods found in the deli case. The P.L.T. (prosciutto, lettuce and tomato, with fresh mozz as a binder) was a favorite of mine, as was the ricotta pie. Also, the in-house coffees prepared here are wonderful, featuring a very robust Italian roast as its espresso base.

The toilets are one-baggers and like the dining room they feature a modern spin on traditional design. They are roomy and clean and offer much privacy, thanks to being located away from the main action of the place.

You'll find an off-white toilet here set atop gray brick floor tiles that are reminiscent of stones found on brick roads. The walls are deep beige and clean-looking but without any decoration on it -- which in turn makes the place feel more modern and minimalistic.

The vanity houses a single sink that looks European-inspired. Upon seeing it, immediately thought of the sinks I saw at Club Quarters Philadelphia or at Petro Palace lobby or the SkyBar in St. Petersburg, in that they are small, yet stylish, and with a single old-fashioned spigot controlling water temperature and such. Only, unlike those, the small sink here isn't placed to conserve space -- here it's done for style, and it works.

An elegant mirror that looks like something taken from a diva's dressing room hangs above the sink, adding some elegance to the proceedings, and a small counter jets out to its right, holding a tall but thin vase with fake flowers in it.

The soap dispenser, paper towel dispenser and toilet paper dispenser are all boxed in matted stainless steel, which looks very slick -- and really is the second straight bathroom visited where traditional stainless fixtures like these are presented in a slightly different manner (I'm referring to McCormick & Schmick's Orlando, of course). Only, I found a little flaw in the design with these: The area where you grab the paper goods or receive the soap is covered by a lip, and as a result you can't see where the item you're getting (soap, paper, etc.) is and as a result it makes getting that stuff cleanly a bit of a chore.

On a different note: This is also the second Italian market bathroom to post very specific instructions on how to wash one's hands -- the other being Laurenzo's in North Miami Beach. Is this a trend or something?

Marks out of 10:

8. Very nice, private and clean, and the design touches certainly make it more interesting than a standard one-bagger. I rank this experience up there with other one-bagger wonders, like La Brazas Chicken and Shiki at the Beach.

Comments to the Management:

It's a great experience. And although I like the look of those fixtures holding the soap, paper towels and toilet paper, their functionality is a bit questionable. Is it possible to modify them some so you can get what you're looking for? If not, you may want to consider alternative fixtures.

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