Thursday 23 October 2008

Scuffmarks and Wear and Tear Spoil Comfort Level Some at Cavallari's Toilets

Cavallari Gourmet
1954 W State Road 426
Oviedo, FL USA

Where is it?

From the front entrance, head left, past the cashier counter to the back wall, which is covered with coolers containing various food and drink. Turn right and head to the back corner of the place, passing the place's meat and deli counters along the way, until you reach a small hallway with a cooking range and grill on your right.

Go down that hallways and you'll find the bathrooms.

What's it like?

This charming neighborhood gourmet store is something of an anomaly in Orlando. Whereas New York or Miami are filled with such businesses (Laurenzo's in North Miami Beach is a favorite), Central Florida foodies seem fonder of gourmet mega-stores like Whole Foods or Fresh Market Orlando than smaller, more community driven stores like this, who make food their passion instead of profit.

Not that I am against Whole Foods or Fresh Market, as they offer regular shoppers in the area some seriously good options, but they also have an impersonal quality about them that makes the shopper feel less appreciated than he or she would at a place like this. When you walk into a smaller establishment like this and the owner remembers you from your previous visit, and then proceeds to mention that he's got something you've just got to try, it means something to the everyday shopper. (Such was my experience at Strollo's in Winter Park, which isn't quite as expansive as this place in terms of gourmet groceries -- the emphasis is more deli-style dining there -- and I received a similar vibe here.)

Visitors here will find a slew of gourmet meats, veggies, fish, imported canned and dry goods, specialty foods prepared in house and much more. In fact the selection is so wide that you'll feel a little claustrophobic walking through the overstuffed aisles. The fish department is one of the freshest I've seen in town and the meats are gorgeous -- particularly the homemade sausages. Another highlight is the collection of homemade pickles, which include everything from traditional cucumber to green beans to watermelon rind. Strolling the aisles here while hungry can be dangerous both to your calorie count and to your wallet (as expected, prices are higher than at a regular supermarket), though foodies won't complain.

Service is friendly and down to earth and accommodating, and I liked how (in waiting for the butcher to tidy my order) the cashiers were quick to offer a snack of BBQ potato skins (salty but addictively delicious) to while away the time. Nice people here and great quality product on the shelves.

Speaking of Strollo's: That's what the bathroom here reminded me of -- with a good pinch of Mama Mia's Italian in Sebastian thrown in. Not exactly the same, mind you, but they capture the same spirit as those.

The toilets are simple one-baggers that have been gussied up some to appear more comfortable than a standard, bland single unit. And they are more comfortable than the standard single unit. But they aren't quite in the same league as, say, Strollo's, which I consider to be a true bathroom milestone in terms of one-baggers.

The upper walls are painted dark red, the lower walls and floor have an off white tile on them. The toilet (no urinal) and sink are your standard white porcelain models. The toilet sits in the back corner of the room, right next to the waste basket (which crowds in a little too tightly to the commode), and the sink sits in the front corner. A soap dispenser, automatic paper towel dispenser and oval mirror hang over the sink, crowding it some. On the walls hang some generic artwork -- classy yet slightly hackneyed still-lifes and pastoral scenes (like what we've seen at La Brazas Chicken, for example, or at El Bodegon, or at the aforementioned Mama Mia's Italian).

It's a clean environment and virtually odor free. The only issues I had were the very noticeable scuff marks on the door (facing in) and some very noticeable chipped paint on the wall above the sink, between the soap dispenser and the mirror. Not the worst case of paint chipping I've seen (the flaky walls at High Tide Harry's come to mind for that) and not the strangest place to find scuffmarks (that would be the Aloma Cinema Grill and the WhyNot Lounge) -- it's pretty clear here that people like to open the door here with their feet, but then again why not just use the handle, you know?

Marks out of 10:

7. A decent bathroom but those scuff marks and that chipped paint drop it a notch.

Comments to the Management:

A wonderful store, that it is. Just need to cover up those scuff marks, tidy up the paint some in the bathroom and move the trashcan a bit further away from the toilet.

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