Eating out is a part of my enduring feng shui, my milieu, my raison d’être, and other delightfully exact and sensorily appealing foreign terms. In other words, eating out as often as possible is how my husband and I live our busy, one, two, three lives.
The sheer variety of our gastronomic experience allows me to ponder the eternal question: can you tell a good restaurant by the quality and attention-to-detail of its washing up “facilities”? I’m here to tell you that, yes, you can indeed visit the lavoratory, or “lav”as the Brits say, before eating a bite of food and get a pretty darn close indication of the care a restaurateur gives each and every element of the dining experience.
I know what you are thinking: it can’t be true for how could the loo (yes, another perfectly descriptive British term!) be indicative of an eating establishment’s quality. How indeed.
My argument rests, my friends, on experience. I have eaten and used the facilities in spots around the world. I noted that Cairo has great bidets and toilets in the hotels serving Westerners. Bruges features the wonder of the Belgian rotating, clean plastic cover for each new restaurant patron.
And the crowning glory was my visit to a French public toilet in Aix-en-Provence that sprayed the entire interior of the room with an antibacterial solution before I entered. The latter defining moment can be had for a fee of 10 euro cents, and I recommend it for the sheer wonder and novelty value alone!
I have also visited interesting ladies’ room interiors in London, Paris, San Francisco, New York, Montreal, Mexico City, Calgary, Vancouver, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, St. Martin, Austin, Houston, and Rio.
So, I can safely report that I know a thing or two about eating and bathrooming in many a foreign and domestic restaurant.
Having acknowledged the variety and depth of my experience, I point now to the finest Knoxville, Tennessee, restaurants, as shaped and molded by the innovation and cleanliness of their restrooms.
Bistro at the Bijou is not only the place in Knoxville to eat before an event or concert at the Bijou Theatre, but the Bistro also is a great place to put together a deal over lunch downtown or find yourself a handy lawyer or thirty as they graze contentedly on the Bistro’s divine fare.
Bistro’s very hands-on owner Martha Boggs not only has some great food and innovative menu options, she proves it properly with the fine appointments of her whimsical loo-sign-designated restrooms.
Let’s talk the important things: cleanliness, check; more toilet supplies as needed, check; a cheery floor file combination I have seen in a New York City art house theater, check; and not one, but two mirrors to check your look. Hey waiter, check!
Besides its lovely “facilities”, Bistro at the Bijou accommodates large parties in a cozy upstairs nook that is graced by a vintage red velvet sofa that would have done a bordello proud.
Oh, yeah, try Bistro at the Bijou anytime for lunch, afternoon, weekend brunch, a drink after work, or an anytime dinner in a relaxed and casual atmosphere.
Knoxville’s take on scrumptious continental cuisine can be found at Stephanie and Brian Ballest’s Northshore Brasserie. Despite its location on Northshore Drive, this Belgian brasserie is actually located in West Knoxville, conveniently located just off Pellissippi Parkway at the Northshore exit.
Brasserie has to-die-for-mussels (or so I hear since I am allergic to shellfish), impeccable white-tablecloth service, and my favorite bar for keeping an eye on a game while having delectable food.
But you know that you are in the right place when you step into Stephanie’s ladies lounge area that features aphorisms and witticisms aplenty.
The enlightening experience continues with all the accouterment you would expect to find in a deliciously well-appointed French or Belgian restaurant: careful attention to each detail of the dining experience, seasonal fare, a daily special, and, my personal favorite, a special gourmet, three-course meal on Thursday nights for only $22.
The wait staff are fabulous, the bar is hopping, and you can even eat out on the terrace under an umbrella. Very Parisian.
But don’t take my word for the connection between fine eating and the restrooms that make us proud to sit or stand for whatever suits your endeavor. Do your own research at some of the dining establishments of your choice and discover whether there is indeed a connection between the quality of an eatery and its accompanying facilities.
For what could be better than exploring, doing a bit of detective work, and finding that it is entirely elementary my dear. Whether in Saskatoon or your own hometown, whether eating or drinking, find out for yourself whether there is a connection between your favorite watering hole and the outhouse that sustains it!
~ Anna, 10/10/13
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