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The Men’s Restroom at The Herb Farm: A Review

by Jason Edwards

There’s probably a name for the decorating style used at The Herb Farm. Actually, I’m pretty sure there’s a name for “the name for a decorating style.” But when I was there, yesterday, I had eight glasses of wine. And since the dining was excellent, my brain had to choose memories of delicious food over nomenclature when the alcohol arrived to destroy cells.

At any rate, that style might be called “farm-house sumptuous.” Like what a French aristocrat from the eighteenth century (early eighteenth, before all that Reign of Terror nonsense) would choose if he were transported to this century, got used to it, and was told to live on a farm. I describe it to you this way because I am assuming that if you’re willing to read a review of a men’s room, chances are you don’t have the kind of decorating education that would even recognize the words that a proper fashion review would use.

To get to the men’s rest room, leave the dining area and go into the lobby, then make a left. Walk along the plush blue carpeting, past walls adorned with what I assume are pages from one of those curiously expensive children’s picture books. Something about the alphabet, and animals, and food. “Frog Fixed Flapjacks” and “Hedgehog’s Herbs.” There’s other decoration up there as well, but when you’ve just downed two flutes of champagne, a glass of rose’, and several hardy swallows of sangiovese, you tend to skip the details while the bathroom’s still 25 yards away.

At the end of the blue corridor you go right, through a door into the climate controlled Wine Library. I have to tell you, I really like the idea of calling a wine cellar a “library,” The actual library part of this library is on the left, halfway down, through locked doors; a sign references a bottle worth $14,000. I don’t know if they keep that bottle there or not—personally, anything costing more than seven bucks or so is wasted on me, as evidenced by the way the stuff had been galloping down my throat all night.

Speaking of gallop: don’t, or you’ll crash headlong into the ladies room, which at this point is straight ahead. The men’s is on the left. It doesn’t say “men’s” but features a painting of a little boy. I suppose one could justify, then, calling this “the little boy’s room.” But just writing that makes me feel creepy, nevermind the popular vernacular.

As an aside, I’ll reiterate an irritation I have, usually, with public restrooms that are not clearly marked with the word “Men” and “Women” or equivalent words in the local language. And no, “Caballeros” and “Damisellas” in a Mexican restaurant doesn’t count. I especially hate it when they just use pictures. I was at a restaurant once wherein the restrooms were marked with a frog and a pig. I spent 10 minutes furiously trying to sober up enough to deduce which was which, until finally I decided “frog” meant “bullfrog” which was for the men, and when I went through the door only to be slapped by an enormous woman dressed in pink, her shouting “Pig!” as I fell backwards into the hall again, the irony was entirely lost on me until the next day.

But even inebriated I could tell the lads’ from lasses’ here. Inside the men’s room, finally, you’ll be reminded of that word I used before: sumptuous. Rich. Almost, but not quite, opulent. Well, maybe a little opulent. The sink features a waterspout shaped like a craning goose neck, water gushing from its beak. The light in the wall sconce looks like the torch carried by the Statue of Liberty. There’s an enormous print from some 1960s French fashion magazine, right above an electric shoe-shine.

The room is small but not cramped, with one floor-length urinal and a commode in a little room of its own. Above the urinal is a mirror, and I found myself too embarrassed to make eye contact with the round-faced man I saw in it as I stood there. Back at the sink there is not only liquid soap made on the premises by the Herb Farm owners themselves, but hand lotion as well.

And for me, the true test of a restaurant’s worthiness: cloth towels. If I’m going to pay more for my meal than I would at, say, Red Robin, then by God there’d better be better towels than one would get at Red Robin. I am serious about this. I truly do evaluate whether a restaurant is worth the price by the hand-drying options in the restroom. Let’s face it: dishes over $20 aren’t worth the price, not to someone who’s fine with hot dogs cut up into mac n cheese. No, you pay that much for the experience, for the atmosphere. Not only does the men’s room at the Herb Farm feature cloth towels, in the three visits I made there during the evening, the towels had been replenished twice. You can’t help but notice that, and feel like the restroom, well attended, must therefore be clean.

I’ll be honest—I’m having difficulty writing the conclusion to this review, partly because I’m bad at conclusions in general, partly because I’m sober, and partly because I don’t, at the moment, have to go to the restrooms. Restrooms are hard to think about when you don’t have to go. They tend to be anti-climactic. So I think I’ll just stop writing now—anticlimax seems appropriate.

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