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Overwrought (and over-written) reviews of the restrooms of restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area


Table and Throne

Salt House

Location:  Soma, San Francisco

Table

Table rating: Unquestionably overpriced, I enjoyed my meal at San Francisco’s Salt House. The drinks and desserts were particularly notable. My table rating is 4 out of 5 stars.

Food quality:  Very good. The beet salad was an exciting combination of classic (roasted beets with goat cheese) and experimental (beet panna cotta with cocoa nib and allspice crumble).  The drinks were bold and interesting.  The green farro boasted a rich broth and oven-roast, wild mushrooms. The “urban s’more”- a decadent brown butter panna cotta with balsamic caramel and toasted espresso marshmallows - was the best dessert I’ve eaten this year.

Portion size:  Thankfully modest.  

Presentation:  Gorgeous, without exception.

Atmosphere:  Modern recycled material chic, with excellent lighting. Stylish and undoubtably on-trend, but unoriginal. 

Service:  Very good.

Table rating:  My restaurant review for San Francisco’s Salt House is a 4.25 stars.  This is an exceptional restaurant, without question.

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Size: Modest, but sufficient. The space is broken into three areas: Washroom, double urinal and sequestered toilet. I was only sightly alarmed that the toilet door did not shut or lock, but that’s because I was only taking pictures…not taking a dump.

Decor: Unfortunately, Salt House shares it’s restroom with the rest of the building it occupies. That means patrons must negotiate a short descent from the second floor dining platform, a long walk through the narrow aisles, out the back door, through the building lobby and into a darkened hallway. The restroom itself is stylish, dressed in black and white with red accents. The mirror was impressive, cut into a shield shape and set onto a striking red wall. The urinals and toilet were both black porcelain, which apparently someone thinks is cool. Still, it’s impressive for a shared restroom space and I’m going to give some credit to the both the restauranteur and the building management for not totally sucking.

Temperature:  A little chilly.

Cleanliness: Hard to tell, given the low lighting and black fixtures. Perhaps that’s part of the maintenance strategy?

Music: None.

Toilet paper: Acceptable.

Throne rating: My restroom review for San Francisco’s Salt House is a 3.75 out of 5 stars. There’s only so much you can do about the shared restroom situation, but there’s no doubt that someone applied time and energy into thinking about this space, and it shows.

0 notes (4:18)
Salt house san francisco restroom review restaurant review bathroom review mirror shared restroom upscale

Taste of the Himalayas

Location:  Gourmet Ghetto, Berkeley

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Food quality: I had hoped for more “majestic Himalayas” and less “perfectly adequate Indian food.”  My hopes were dashed upon the twin, pointed rocks of saag paneer and aloo gobi. Enough hyperbole - the meal was not bad, despite the attempts of my over-active imagination to characterize it otherwise. The vegetable pakoras - fritters, not whole fried vegetables - were salty and crunchy.  Diners should note the monthly specials, particularly the breads.  We had a lovely rosemary naan that I’ve never seen served anywhere else.

Portion size:  Good.  That is to say, by the time you’ve slurped the dal, scarfed the pakoras, gobbled the curry and sucked down the mango lassi…you’ve eaten too much damn food.   

Presentation:  Nothing to speak of.  Let’s move on.

Atmosphere:  Berkeley’s Taste of the Himalayas offers it’s patrons plenty to look at: statuettes on pedestals and in alcoves, gold gilding, floor to ceiling tile-work and the requisite regional, ethnic newspapers in cheap metal racks.   The apex in this gilt crown of minor spectacle is the a truly impressive geo-religous mural, occupying an entire wall of the restaurant.  Sit close, if you can.

Service:  Good, particularly if you have the sense to value a free cup of yellow dal soup.  Which they give you at Taste of the Himalayas.

Table rating:  Perhaps you feel I should not include a reference to crowd-sourced reviews in this blog, as it diminishes my own unique and valuable perspective. Fine.  Yelp it yourself and see if I care.  I give Berkeley’s Taste of the Himalayas a 3.25 star table rating.

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Size: Moderate.  If you care to stretch out on the toilet, or pace nervously while drying your hands…be my guest.

Decor:  Almost none. This is a shame, because the rest of Taste of the Himalayas is so perfectly ethnicized.  There is one notable exception, which I must describe to you.  A pair of small, Indian dolls sit on the shelf, opposite the toilet, behind two matching bottles of generic supermarket air freshener.  Visitors to the restroom here should take a moment to consider this surreal moment of everyday strangeness, cultural juxtaposition and bad taste. 

Temperature:  Acceptable

Cleanliness:  Excellent.  The restroom at Taste of the Himalayas is no spring chicken, but the floors were clean, the sink and toilet were sparkling and there was no graffiti at all. It was obvious that the bottles of air freshener so prominently displayed received dedicated use: the restroom smelled lovely.

Music:  None.  A shame.

Toilet paper:  Poor in quality, but plentiful in quantity.  Note the double toilet paper dispensers and the spare roll wedged between them.

Throne rating:  I rate the restroom at Taste of the Himalayas a 3.25. It wasn’t terrible, but the next time my pants nest around my ankles in your restroom, I want to blown away by a brand new mural. I want to see a legendary battle between four-armed Indian gods and fanged, fiery-maned demons.  It’s fine if you want them to be fighting over some holy mountain or golden relic, but I think it would be cooler if they were battling over a perfect, golden dosa. 

0 notes (11:25)
restaurant restaurant review restroom review indian restaurant himalayan clean mural air freshener toilet paper

Oliveto

Location:  Rockridge.  That surreal, increasingly gentrified space between North Oakland and Berkeley.

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Food quality:  Very good Americanized Italian.  The trio of antipasti and the bittersweet chocolate cake were outstanding.  The canneloni of hedgehog mushrooms and leeks was better in theory than in practice.

Portion size:  Small.  Except the for the cake, which was a pretty great portion.

Presentation:   Very good.  The perfect circle of bittersweet chocolate cake, dusted with powdered sugar and coupled with a squiggle of (house made?) whipped cream was exquisite.

Atmosphere:  Very good.   Oakland’s Oliveto is a sleek, modern feat of restauranting architecture.  California-themed watercolor’s in dark frames added a specific touch of place.

Service:  Very good.  Our waitress was prompt, pleasant and attentive.  When I dropped a spoon, a staffer appeared magically at my side with a clean utensil before I could even sit up.  I nearly burst into applause.

Table rating:  563 Yelpers will tell you that Oakland’s Oliveto merits a 3.5 stars.   Clearly this community wasn’t factoring in Oliveto’s exceptional restroom, which bumps my review up to a commendable 4 stars.

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Size:  This is tricky.  Normally I prefer the privacy of a restroom with a locking door.  In addition to helping me to relax and enjoy the experience, the locking door facilitates my iPhone-review-and-photography purposes as well.  Have you ever been caught taking pictures in a restaurant restroom?  Newsflash - it’s awkward.  But that model doesn’t work for a restaurant of Oliveto’s size.  In this case, the architect and restauranteur opted for a perfectly serviceable, medium-sized communal restroom with two urinals and a single toilet.

Decor:  Stylish, thematic and clever.  The first thing an observant visitor will notice when opening the stall door is a huge birch branch, leaning against the wall. The second thing that visitor will notice is a framed painting of a birch tree on that same wall.  So totally meta, I’m still marveling at the audacity.  The sink at Oliveto is an interesting shape, carved from marble and inset with a brass wash basin.  Two bouquets of interesting dried flowers were hung at just above head height from the orange walls.  

Temperature:  Idyllic  - neither stuffy nor cold.

Cleanliness:  Perfect.  No scrap of toilet paper or wadded up paper towel littered the rough tiled floor.  The toilet seat was so clean it might have been brand new.  The mirror was spotless.

Music:  None.  This is unfortunate, as a rousing and lusty Italian ballad would have made the Oliveto restroom experience complete.

Toilet paper:  Oh, Oliveto.  How can you get so much right and fuck up the toilet paper? First - and I can’t believe I have to tell you this - a classy restroom has 2 ply toilet paper.  Second, only lazy restaurants stack up unwrapped, spare rolls on the back of the toilet.  Especially when your stylish dispenser holds a spare roll.  Oliveto, you can do better.

Throne rating:  I hereby bestow a rare and prestigious Table and Throne rating of 4.5 stars upon the restroom at Oakland’s Oliveto.  If you dine in the Rockridge neighborhood of North Oakland, don’t miss your chance to visit to this impressive restroom.

0 notes (12:44)
oakland rockridge berkeley restaurant review restroom review oliveto italian restaurant stylish toilet paper flowers framed art sink
Table and Throne is a Tumblr based in the San Francisco Bay Area that reviews restaurants and their bathrooms, and it’s pretty brilliant, offering a concise review of the service and food above meticulous notes about the room in which you shit: size, cleanliness, music, (crucially) temperature, a number rating, and more.

— via Eat Like a Man: the Esquire Food blog.  Thank you, Eric Vilas-Boas!  We appreciate your kind words and your obviously superior taste in restrooms.

2 notes (11:32)
eat like a man esquire food blog eric vilas-boas quote

Bebop

Location: The quaint and attractive Elmwood neighborhood, in Berkeley.  Bonus points for a nice walk with your sweetheart before or after the meal.

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Food quality:  The bebimbap and japchae at Berkeley’s Bebop were unquestionably better than I could make at home, but neither were as good as you could find at Bowl’d, for example.

Portion size:  Generous.  Watch your girlish figure and don’t finish these large servings.  Better yet, save room for two of Berkeley’s best foodie experiences, right across the street:  artisanal ice cream at Ici or Mexican chocolate at Casa de Chocolates.

Presentation:  Perfectly adequate, but nothing to Instagram, hashtag and brag about to your hipster friends.

Atmosphere:  Simple, attractive cafe-style dining.  Better than average lighting and some nice use of color.

Service:  Good.  Our waitress was pleasant, attentive and brought us extra appetizers gratis.  

Table rating: 107 Berkeley Yelpers give Bebop 4 stars.  I give it a table rating of 3.25 stars.   Mostly because I just don’t have a healthy separation between food and restroom.  And - no matter how I struggle to be generous - Bebop fails on restroom.

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Size:  Small to medium.

Decor:  None.  Not that I could tell, because the lights weren’t working at it was mostly dark except for dim light filtering in through the ancient skylight.

Temperature:  Cold.  The only thing I hate more than 1 ply toilet paper is a cold restroom.  Restauranteurs and managers, show some consideration for the entire experience of your guests and stop worrying about saving a few pennies on your heating costs or suffer the wrath of restroom bloggers everywhere.

Cleanliness:  While someone clearly doesn’t care about keeping my ass warm or giving me something attractive to look at while I’m shivering with my pants around my ankles, they do seem to care about cleanliness.  The restroom at Bebop in Berkeley was clean and well-maintained.

Music:  None.

Toilet paper:  Adequate, but no better.  

Other:  I was impressed that the requisite East Bay graffiti was confined solely to the mechanism that manages the velocity of the door closure.  Points to both Bebop and the creative vandal.  I was also impressed with the extra-large, chrome-plated fire extinguisher sitting on the floor across from the toilet.  If there were a fire, I could leap immediately into action!

Throne rating:  I’m feeling grouchy about the restroom in Berkeley’s Bebop Korean restaurant, but can’t justify giving it anything other than a 2.5 stars.

0 notes (11:22)
berkeley bebop restaurant review restroom review korean restaurant bebimbap fire extinguisher skylight graffiti

Pasta Pomodoro

Location: Emeryville

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Food quality:  Uninspired, but perfectly adequate Italian fare.

Portion size:  Plenty.  Don’t order the sides, even if you do want the brussel sprouts, because it’s more food than any healthy person should eat.

Presentation:  I could say “without poetry.”  Or I could put a positive spin on it and say “functionally prosaic.”  Both would be accurate statements.

Atmosphere:  I was impressed with the simple, symmetric and undoubtably cost-effective at scale “Italian” brand identifiers.  That’s effective Marketing and Operations at work, my friends.  On the other hand, Pasta Pomodoro doesn’t have a fraction of the oddball charm that neighborhood Italian restaurants like Luca have.  

Service:  Excellent.  We told our server we were in a hurry to get to a movie (zombies + red sauce #FTW!).  Our food arrived with lightning speed and our bill came with equal velocity.

Table rating:  The enthusiastic community of 164 Yelp reviewers rate Pasta Pomodoro as 3 stars.   Showcasing my complete lack of original thinking, I give it the same: 3 stars.

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Size:  The restroom at Pasta Pomodoro was neither spacious nor cramped.  Clearly the result of a thoughtful and efficient corporate space planner.  Kudos to you, unappreciated wage slave.

Decor:  To it’s credit, the restroom at the Emeryville Pasta Pomodoro looks and feels very similar to the main restaurant space.  The earthy browns and greys play nicely with the sleek porcelain sink, toilet and urinal.  The mixture of corporate “Italian language” branding and nostalgic black and white photography worked well together.

Temperature:  Just about perfect.  Not even one goosepimple rose from the meeting of ass and porcelain.

Cleanliness:  Exceptional.  Clearly the result of a rigorously maintained system of hourly maintenance.  

Toilet paper:  Acceptable.

Music:  None.

Other:  I’m conflicted about liking such a simple, functional product of corporate planning.  Story of my life.  Shut the fuck up.  I’ve heard it before.

Throne rating:  My rating for the restroom at Pasta Pomodoro in Emeryville is a 4.25 stars.   If it weren’t for my own pathetic and inconsequential self-doubt (see above), I’d give it a 4.5.

0 notes (12:18)
restaurant review restroom review restaurant restroom emeryville pasta pomodoro corporate clean plunger scrub brush photography marketing operations tasteful

Tacubaya

Location: Berkeley

Don’t take my singular, amateur word for it.  The people of Yelp say: 3.5 stars, 593 reviews.

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Food quality:  I ordered and ate the chile rellenos.  They were battered, fried and ungodly good, stuffed with potatoes, cherries, leeks and cheese.  It would be a minor crime if I failed to mention the blood orange agua fresca, which made me so happy.

Portion size:  Substantial, but not too much.  I still had room for a cupcake from the food truck on 4th avenue afterward (salted carmel, if you must know).

Presentation:  Nothing you couldn’t pull off yourself with a little effort.

Restaurant atmosphere:  Colorful, vibrant and a little close-for-quarters.  But thanks to the cheerfully aggressive, go-get-em nature of my girlfriend, we scored a table outside in the sunshine.  In February.   Did I mention how I never want to go back to Michigan in February?

Service:  Good.  Even though it’s a bus-your-own table place, the staff cheerfully scooped up our plates minutes after we finished.

Table rating:  My restaurant review for Tacubaya in Berkeley is a you-must-go 4.5 stars.   It’s one of the best Mexican restaurants in the Bay Area, despite the arguably bourgeois nature of the 4th avenue location.  

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Size:  The restroom at Tacubaya is modestly proportioned, but entirely serviceable.  I did no martial arts practice in this space, but it was definitely large enough to do a little dancing and amateur iphone photography in.

Decor:  The restroom at Tacubaya is simple, elegant and entirely in tune with the restaurant itself.  The walls are a two-tone, earthy orange as is the textured floor.  The bright blue door provides some cheerful, welcome contrast, as do the two pieces of black-framed art on the walls.  I liked the simple stone sink, despite the exposed pipes.  If you know what the “ohuno trole batle” sticker on the underside of the sink is all about, you gotta tell me.  ’Cause Google can’t answer my question and I’m deadly curious.

Temperature:  Comfy.

Cleanliness:  Solid.  No worries.

Toilet paper:  I’m seriously embarrassed to say I didn’t check, and I promise it will never happen again.

Music: None.

Other:  The casual restroom enthusiast might not have picked out three notable features of this restroom.  First and second, note the automagical lights and hand dryer.   Third, note the simple, brushed nickel toilet paper dispenser with space for a back up roll.   It’s the little things that matter, people, and the management at Tacubaya deserve points for getting it right.

Throne rating:  My rating for the restroom at Tacubaya is a respectable 3.75 stars.  This is a solid bathroom, on it’s way to being very good.  But - I wonder if you guys feel this way too - there’s some magic missing.

0 notes (2:23)
tacubaya berkeley mexican restaurant restaurant restaurant review restroom restroom review chile rellenos agua fresca sink door ohuno trole batle sticker toilet paper dispenser horchata

The Loring Cafe

Location:  Uptown Oakland

Yelp says:  4 stars, 8 reviews

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Food quality:  I enjoyed the orcchiette and the pumpkin tart.  Both were simple, elegant and well-prepared.

Portion size:  It was relatively small bowl of pasta and a relatively large tart.

Presentation:  Lovely.  My pasta arrived on delicate, vintage, European porcelain.

Restaurant Atmosphere:  The Loring Cafe is notably and pleasantly odd.  It’s worth a visit just to take it all in. They describe themselves as “Bohemian dining” and I don’t think that’s too far off.  I’d probably add keywords like: European, gypsy, theatrical, baroque and romantic to that list.  It’s definitely a good date restaurant.

Service:  The service was pretty good, up until it was time to pay the bill.  Then the waitress just disappeared.  Granted, that was at 9:45, 15 minutes after the stated closing time.  So I only kinda blame her.  But I was still annoyed.

Table rating:  My restaurant review for the Loring Cafe charts at a solid 3.5 stars.  

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Size: Pleasantly spacious.

Decor:  Spectacular.   If Gaudi designed a bathroom for a wealthy, Spanish version of Bilbo Baggins, this would be it. The low ebony toilet and matching end table is a spectacle unto itself.  The gold and cream floor tiles are inspired. Sweeping curves of glossy brick transform the room into something non-linear and otherworldly. The gold gilt floor mirror added to the perception of space and literally “crowned” the long list of reasons to love this bathroom. Two minor downsides only: 1)  The spare roll of toilet paper was set - cavalierly - on a rocky shelf and looked a little tacky.  2) The toilet paper dispenser was an iron pipe, set into the wall.  Out of sync with the high class and whimsical nature of the space.

Temperature:  I was so taken with this restroom, I didn’t even notice.

Cleanliness:  Excellent.

Toilet paper:  Adequate, but two-ply would have really secured this restroom’s place in my all-time-best list.

Music:  None.  Honestly, I can’t imagine what they would have played.  Some fast and energetic gypsy music?  Some italian experimental post-punk stoner rock, maybe?  In my head it’s Tom Waits playing accordion and singing with Blonde Redhead as the backup band.

Other:  The sink is outside the bathroom, in some kind of bizarre communal hand washing space.  Like a cross between a UFO and a chemistry lab bio-hazard sink.   It was amazing and I’ve never seen anything like it or quite so out of place.

Throne rating: My restroom review for the Loring Cafe in Oakland, CA arrives at a majestic 4.5 stars.  That automatically puts it on my short list of best restaurant restrooms in the San Francisco Bay Area.

0 notes (11:44)
the loring cafe oakland restaurant restaurant review restroom toilet sink brick bohemian tiles ebony best restroom in oakland restroom review best restroom in the east bay east bay

Victory Burger

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Yelp says: 3.5 stars, 49 reviews

Location:  North Oakland (*ahem* Emeryville)

The food:  Let’s just say this up front - Victory Burger serves a killer basket of mixed fries and pickles. The veggie burger was notable for the grilled onions and sweet sauce.  I knocked back a swell bottle of Fentiman’s Curiosity Cola that totally made me happy.

Restaurant atmosphere:  Very good.  Victory Burger has an Oakland hipster / foodie vibe with a pleasant, unified visual aesthetic.  The outdoor seating was rad…except for the smoker on the corner.  Victory Burger, get your managers out there and doing something about that shit. 

Service:  This is good, fast casual.  Order your food at the register.  Bus your own damn table.   Be happy that you’re in an awesome little burger joint  in California and not at Taco Bell in Michigan.

Table rating: My restaurant review for North Oakland’s Victory Burger is a rocking 4 stars.  It was a notable meal.  I’m definitely going back to try the veggie arepas and the smoky braised greens that the East Bay Express have raved about.

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Size:  Comfortably large.  I had no problem doing a little dance or practicing my badass martial arts moves in front of the mirror.  I assume you will not have any problem either, should you attempt these activities.

Decor:  There is some minimal consistency with the main restaurant, but not notably so.  I liked the chrome highlights at the ceiling, the bold red door and the simple white wall tile.  The Oakland-style graffiti tags were unimpressive, as was the generic flooring material.  I appreciate a thoughtful restauranteur who provides a “spare roll” of toilet paper, but just setting it on the wall-mounted support bar is tacky.   The highlight of the restroom experience was the defaced “wash your hands” sign.  While it shows the owner/manager/staff just doesn’t care that much…replacing any word with “butt” is almost always good for a jr high style laugh from me.

Temperature:  Just fine.  

Cleanliness:  Ok, except for the gag-inducing wad of wet toilet paper on the floor.

Toilet paper:  Passable, but just barely good enough for my admittedly high standards.

Music:  None.  But I could imagine the staff listening to Tame Impala or Beach House while they washed their hands and contemplated their thick, impressive beards and neck tattoos.

Other:  At first I was going to be charitable and bump up my final rating for this restroom, because the space is shared with The Actual Cafe around the corner.  Shared restrooms are a generally problematic for restauranteur, as they have less control of the overall aesthetic vision and customer experience.  But then I learned that Victory Burger and The Actual Cafe are owned by the same dude.   So no freebies for you in this review, Sal Bednarz.  Step it up, ‘cause otherwise you got a great thing going here and I know you can do better!

Throne rating: My restroom review for Victory Burger is a low-to-average 2.5 stars.

0 notes (5:06)
oakland east bay emeryville victory burger burger veggie burger french fries restaurant review restaurant restroom fentiman's graffiti toilet paper

Thai Time

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Yelp says: 4 stars, 379 reviews.

Location:  Inner Richmond, San Francisco.

The food:  Pretty good. 

Restaurant atmosphere:  A hole-in-the-wall, just off Clement Street.  Whitney Houston playing overhead on tinny speakers, which was kind of cool.   Some cheesy golden elephants and fake orchids, which made me pretty happy.

Service:  Good.

Table rating: My restaurant review for San Francisco’s Thai Tiime is a respectable 3.5 stars.  This is just fine, given that it’s a hole in the wall thai restaurant off Clement.


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Size:  This restroom is small as it gets.  Your shoulders nearly touch the walls when you sit down.

Decor: One sad, fake plant on the sink.   Blue, painted walls.  A truly unexpected, inspiring fake-blood-and-zombie sticker on the toilet.  Worth a visit for this alone.

Temperature:  Just fine. 

Cleanliness:  Used paper towels in a wad on the floor.  A step above a gas station, but a really teeny tiny step.

Toilet paper: One fucking ply.  Inexcusable.  Possibly my biggest restaurant restroom pet peeve.

Music:  None.  Which was too bad.  ’Cause I was enjoying “What’s love got to do?” playing in the dining room.

Other:  You’d really never know that Thai Time had a restroom.  Walk past the register, thru the cramped, awesome little kitchen, up the steps and around the corner to get to it.

Throne rating: My restroom review for Thai Time is a lowly 1.5 stars.  It was just crappy, no matter how generous you’re feeling.

0 notes (10:13)
restaurant restroom review thai zombies inner richmond san francisco sf bathroom toilet food restroom review