Keith McNally: A Restro-spective

Odeon: McNally's potty training.Photo: Daniel Maurer

As we noted when we toured the restrooms at Morandi, Keith McNally has pissed away a great deal of money to make his restaurant lavatories the gold standard. When Morandi failed to hit the mark, we were truly bummed, so to restore our faith in the master (and to make sure we weren’t remembering his previous works through Clorox-colored glasses), we decided to embark on an epic stall crawl of McNally’s previous loos, from Pravda’s Commie commodes to (pardon our French) the shitters at Schiller’s. Come flush with us.

The Odeon, 1980
The lounge: Downstairs, a room with a couch resembling an old railcar seat, two wooden telephone booths, and an antique upright scale.
The loos: Two Art Deco rooms anchored with giant sinks with spindled legs.
Amenities A chair for lounging, a gigantic chrome trash can.
Drawbacks: Bolivian Marching Powder not as readily available as it was in 1986.

Photo: Daniel Maurer

Lucky Strike, 1989

The lounge: None. Past the bar, look for two doors with elegantly stained mirrors.

The loos: Two unisex cubicles— tall and narrow like a dumbwaiter shaft — are separated by a wall of opaque glass bricks.

Amenities: About three dozen rolls of tp stacked against the wall.

Drawbacks: Perhaps the dingiest and least remarkable of McNally’s restrooms.


Photo: Daniel Maurer

Pravda, 1996

The lounge: Upstairs, a rustic, wood-paneled room with overstuffed leather chairs, lightboxes displaying propaganda clippings, and a mural depicting proud laborers.

The loos: As with Lucky Strike, two narrow rooms are separated by opaque glass. There’s a hammer-and-sickle mosaic on the tiled floor and Cyrillic words on stained-glass windows.

Amenities: A lightbox mirror glows over a metal sink with push-down faucets.

Drawbacks: Unless you read Russian, you wouldn’t know that the ladies' room is on the left and the men’s room is on the right. Fear not—they’re essentially unisex.


Photo: Daniel Maurer

Balthazar, 1997

The lounge: Down creaky wooden stairs, a Baroque room with colorful overflowing bouquets and a stained-glass ceiling.

The loos: Two doors with beautiful etched-glass windows open onto rooms with classic black-and-white tiling and the requisite mustard-painted tin ceiling.

Amenities: Toothpicks, Listerine, mints, and (in the ladies' room) Secret deodorant, a hairbrush, perfume, Q-tips.

Drawbacks: Hovering attendants.


Photo: Daniel Maurer

Pastis, 1999

The lounge: Beyond a door indicating “Toilette et Telephones,” a white-tiled unisex washing area where a mirror stretches over a long communal sink.

The loos: Somewhat cramped. There is a single wobbly toilet in the men’s-room stall.
Amenities: Two stately Art Deco urinals.

Drawbacks: The sprinkling from the old-fashioned faucets is more apt for watering flowers than washing hands.


Photo: Daniel Maurer

Schiller’s Liquor Bar, 1999

The lounge: Downstairs, through two frosted doors, is a beautifully tiled room (à la Pastis) at the center of which is a communal sink suspended amid a mess of rusty pipes.

The loos: Some of McNally’s smallest and most unremarkable.

Amenities: Even in the cellular era, there is a payphone at the bottom of the stairs, though it’s a far cry from the wooden phone booths at Odeon.

Drawbacks: The sink water can be scalding hot. And as bartender Corey Lima has told us, it’s not always water that’s going into the sink.


Related: Do Morandi’s Restrooms Live Up to the Rest of McNally’s?