While reminiscing about a recent dinner at 1905, a new U street restaurant, I thought about what I liked and didn't like about the experience. Strangely, the bathroom made the "did not like" list. It was just...strange. A dirty bathroom obviously diminishes the quality of a diner's experience, but does a weird one have the same effect?
Specifically, 1905 had some sort of strange, saloon style double doors on the bathroom. This is probably a nod to the tight space in the bar area, where the bathrooms are located. But I think it actually compounds the issue, since you're going to spend 20 seconds lingering in the space while you figure out how to open the damn things. And seriously, when you're leaving the bathroom, you feel like you're busting into an old-timey saloon for a stick up. Fail.
That got me thinking--I've experienced some other very strange bathrooms in my many dining experiences.
Take Zengo, an Asian fusion restaurant in Chinatown. The are no doors. Just beads. Your lack of privacy is furthered by the fact that this bead door is right next to the kitchen...with clanking dishes, you're constantly reminded that just on the other side of those slinky beads, busboys and serveres are whizzing past. As I was exiting the bathroom, I contemplated how stupid this bathroom was. Clearly, I had a look of contempt on my face, because a very confused girl made eye contact with me as she entered through the beads. She looked perplexed, then concerned, then embarassed. I realized that this girl didn't know I was frowning at the idiotic door. She thought I was looking at her bead-door-confusion and sneering at her. She doesn't know how to walk through a bead door? What a rube. Don't you know that bead doors are all the rage this season in Paris. Oops.
But I think the restaurant that takes the cake is the wine bar Proof, also in Chinatown. The bathroom is a complete departure from the restaurant interior, which is all dim lighting and classy wood finish...you know, a wine bar. A little too dim, actually (they have custom-made flashlights that they hand out for you to read the dessert menu--seriously). And then you get up to go to the bathroom. What the &*$!. The women's bathroom walls are outfitted with a garish silver and neon pink argyle patterned wallpaper. In the diamonds of the argyle are cartoon depictions of women's lingerie. The mirror over the sink is a stylized, pop-art pink heart. The men's bathroom (so I'm told) is all black and features a larger than life naked woman. I mean, I've never actually seen any children here, but I feel like there should be a disclaimer. Warning. The ladies room is PG-13 and the men's room is rated R. I wonder what genius designer talked the restaurant owner into these bathrooms.