You can't deny it: The state of the restroom says much about a restaurant.

Potty Break 

You can't deny it: The state of the restroom says much about a restaurant.

To reach the bathrooms in the restaurant and lounge at the Eldridge Hotel (see review, page 31), one must walk down a hallway, past the front desk, up a flight of stairs and beyond a stone fireplace. It's a jaunt, which was a good thing on my last visit because there was no way to dry my hands — no paper towels, no hot-air blower, no rolling-cloth device — in the loo. I had to sort of wave them around in the air as I walked back to my seat in the Jayhawker Lounge. I'm sure I looked very odd.

Wet hands are an annoyance, but at least the bathroom was tidy. That carries a lot of weight in my book. After I knocked another venue's dirty bathrooms in one recent restaurant review, a reader e-mailed to agree with my theory that a vile restroom doesn't portend well for other rooms in a restaurant — namely, its kitchen (see Letters, page 4). Still, even the most glamorous restaurant can have its off days when the food, the service — even the restrooms! — aren't up to par.

As a former busboy and waiter, I know all too well that all public bathrooms have their good nights and their repulsive ones.

More times than I care to remember, some restaurant manager tapped me on the shoulder and told me to go clean up after some customer who had left a "little accident" in the men's room. After a few of these episodes, I became immune to the horrors of vomit, but some of the other body fluids that customers left behind still give me nightmares.

On one miserable New Year's Eve, I had to mop up the mess left behind by one drunken customer; then I had to pick him up and hold him steady while we stumbled outside, where his sulking wife sat in the driver's seat of their car, smoking a cigarette.

She tapped her fingernails impatiently on the steering wheel while I gently unloaded and then belted up my soggy, pathetic customer. Instead of thanking me, the woman turned her head and said, "If he pees on the leather upholstery, I'll call the manager and have you fired."

I was stunned, but I held my tongue. Some messes just can't be cleaned up.

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