There's a curious fad for bars, clubs and, now I know, restaurants, for some ambiguity or twist especially regarding the differentiation of the men and ladies toilets or even the actual entrance to the place. I think it adds to the mystique, the secret handshakes, nod to the wise, either being in the right clique or on the outside. I suspect if you have to ask, you've failed some sort of test, and they didn't really want you as a customer.
Possibly the cryptic signs on the toilet doors are a conversation starter when you return to your group. The hilarity of the slow realisation that you’ve picked the wrong door. For men it's normally the puzzlement of why they'd be a tampon machine to the side of the wash basins whilst they're washing their hands. For the women they either walk through the door to see a couple of guys with their backs to her facing a porcelain wall or you're on your way out and a man is walking through the door adjusting his flies and you both pause and wonder who's made the mistake this time.
On each visit to Milk and Honey we discuss the different between the toilets there. As you may guess one is labelled “Milk” and the other “Honey”. Actually the rooms are the same apart from the size. We have decided that “Honey” is for the ladies but they are interchangeable so it doesn't really matter as they're separate bathrooms rather than a couple of cubicles behind the main door.
It's not just the facilities a few places also want to have an obscure entrance. The Mayor of Scaredy Cat Town is a case in point. Their website used to say you'd have to ring and someone would meet you and escort you to the bar to keep the entrance a secret. Now I guess a lot of their guests are already in on the secret but I won't spoil it for those who don't but suffice to say you should really explain that you've “come to see the mayor!” and they'll expose the secret door.
I’d met LB at the Mexican restaurant La Bodega Negra last week for our mutual birthday so I knew where the entrance was and the look of the place. Today I’m back, this time with my team to celebrate EM’s six month probation pass. We arrived a bit early and rather uninspired by the ambience went in search of a pre-dinner cocktail. When we returned EM checked the reservation and said she had a different address. So we went in search of the other address and discovered that it appeared to be adult video shop and peep show. Hmmm, that doesn't seem right. There's a other woman stood outside the sex shop frontage peering desperately at her BlackBerry and wondering where on earth she's supposed to be meeting her date/friends. We’re still totally unconvinced, someone shoves SG through the door and he returns assuring us that it IS a restaurant after all. We’re not entirely assured but slowly troop through the door and into a curious little lobby. On one side there's a mannequin crudely dressed in bondage gear. On the other wall the hostess stands behind a cabinet containing a saxophone that appears to have a tongue and teeth and next to it an old violin sporting wooden breasts and a merkin! Yes, really! The men are divested of their jackets and ties, and shirt sleeves are rolled up, as suits aren't permitted here!
We have a great table almost in a mirrored cave which made for some great team photos. And we enjoyed some delicious lamb, feisty cocktails and excellent banter. A fine, albeit very belated, welcome to the team EM!