The other good news is that at least one restaurant reviewer -- Mike Berman -- includes the condition and layout of restrooms in nearly all his reviews. A colleague of mine tipped me off to this yesterday.Berman, a Washington-based lobbyist in real life, is the publisher of his own blog, appropriately titled "Mike Berman's Washington Watch." He divides the blog between astute observations about national public policy and politics and reviews of a long list of restaurants he has visited, mostly in Washington but occasionally elsewhere. His reviews of the food and overall value and ambiance of each restaurant include some remarkably detailed descriptions of their restrooms. I'm very impressed.
For instance: "The men's room is near the back of the restaurant, up two stairs. The room is not very large, but of ample size. On the wall to the right of the door there is a white ceramic washbasin with a silver framed mirror above it. The towels are cloth. On the wall opposite the door there is a white ceramic commode and a white ceramic, wall-attached, urinal. There is no separator between them. The walls are covered with large square charcoal gray tiles with light accents and swirls. The floor is covered with large black tiles."
And: "In most men's rooms there are one or two urinals that are relatively out in the open, easily visible. In this restroom there was no urinal in the open. There are 3 small 'rooms,' completely enclosed from floor to ceiling with full size doors. The doors and walls are heavy, dark wood. In each of the 2 narrower "rooms" there is a urinal. In the larger 'room' there is a white ceramic commode. There is also a large picture above the commode."
And: "There are men's rooms in the basement and on the 2nd floor. There is nothing special about the 2nd floor men's room. I did not try the basement facility. Surprisingly, it is what is know in the trade as a 'one holer.' It has a single commode and a washbasin and is relatively small. On the other hand it is bright and clean."
And: "The men's room is small, dingy, and slightly musty. As you enter, there is a 5 [sic] small dark stone counter just to the left with a gold colored metal washbasin. Next to the counter is a floor-to-ceiling solid wall that juts out about 2.5-3 feet. On the other side of the wall is a white ceramic commode. Across from the commode, in the relatively small room, is a white ceramic urinal. The floor is covered with large dark tiles, and the walls are painted a tannish yellow wall. Overall this room is not special."
And: "Then, as you stand at the counter to wash your hands, you can not help but notice in the mirror the large frame with dozens of photos old and new female nudes on the wall behind you. Of the many restrooms that WW has reviewed this is a first. We asked our female server whether they were pictures of male nudes in the woman's restroom. She assured us there were not."
And this more general tip: "Especially when an individual restroom is designed to be used by one person at a time, WW [Washington Watch] believes that unisex is the way to go. On those occasions when it seems appropriate, WW has recommended to women waiting outside the women's restroom to use the men's restroom." I'm all for that, too.
As it happens, most of the restaurants Berman reviews are pretty nice, high-end establishments (he definitely got me excited about a few places I have not been). Consequently, most of his restroom reviews are pretty favorable, which suggests that most of the better restaurants take their restrooms serious, as they should.
Berman sets a high and admirable standard for restaurant restroom reviewers. Now, if only all the rest would follow in his path.