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Powdered Donuts and Micro Urinals at The Rook and Raven

A search for best restaurants in Saskatoon lands The Rook and Raven squarely at four on the ever-reputable site, Zomato. Fourth best in the city. I am in no place to argue for or against this ranking, but as their aggregate score [4.5/5] is accrued from a whopping 1,225 votes, it’s fair to assume their score is well-earned. [by comparison, after 150 votes, Tomas the Cook has a city low rating of 2.1]. As a guess, I would attribute R&R’s popularity to their versatility – they seem uniquely suitable to accommodate everyone from the priggishly formal to the late-night pint sloppers. So while the restaurant’s high standing might be deserved, no such rating will be given to their washrooms.

Washroom zone at the R&R is located, appropriately, at the back. The restaurant’s long, narrow composition means you’ll have to stomach a little one-man marching parade by every table on your way in. The washroom itself, painted the arresting colour of Ovaltine, doesn’t quite carry the same front-of-house charm and atmosphere. It’s modest – a couple urinators, a pooper, and a guy pretending to wash his hands – and we’re full. And “modest” would be a generous way to describe their micro-urinals. There’s two of them, small and oval, and without much sheltering urinal lip, which is particularly important because there’s no splash guards either, which means you and neighbour urinator are now in a loaf swinging contest, whether you like it or not.

While the urinals leave something to be desired [privacy, lack of aiming options], the single stall in the washroom does not. It’s huge – big enough for two occupants who are very comfortable with one anther, or, two occupants not planning on using the washroom at all. Which leads me to detour into some R&R history, which is probably entirely mis-informed. Some years ago, after it was known as The Black Duck, but before it was the Rook & Raven, it lived for a short time as The Barking Fish [unknown if any ownership/management/staff remains], which was somewhat more of a party-orientated joint. As such, the big stall in the Men’s bathroom gained notoriety as being one of Saskatoon’s foremost downtown locations for consuming powder puff donuts. Not being a powder user, I can’t personally confirm this to be true, but on a number of occasions during its run as The Barking Fish, I stumbled into the bathroom to hear an orchestra of snorting noises coming from the stall in question [although it very well could’ve been two guys helping each other blow their noses]. Regardless, what we’re left with today is a beautiful, roomy stall with a full-size door that looks like it was stolen from a Sears change-room. Privacy: maximum. And it should be noted that the powdered donut days of The Barking Fish died along with its name, and nothing of the sort goes on at the very honourable R&R.

The rest is perfectly average. Sinks are manually operated, so knock off an irrational amount of points there. The soap, though, is good, the kind that looks and feels like one of those good toothbrushing lathers that runs down your chin. Paper towel dispensers are manual as well, which is actually preferred to those automatic pieces of junk that seemed perpetually jammed. But, I take issue with the door. There’s only one way of getting out – grabbing that wretched handle – so please, provide a trash bin near the door so I don’t have to toss paper towel on the ground like some Republican getting a leaflet on climate change.

Overall, the donut room with a toilet earns the R&R a lot of grace, but there are simply too many little problems, such as this lack of door garbage and the micro-urinals, to give R&R’s washroom a decent grade. And as the washroom shares it’s hallways with the kitchen, mind the servers on your way out, who might be hustling by with the city’s *fourth highest rated* food.


[Washrooms are rated on a scale of 1 to 5, with a maximum rating of 1 and a minimum of -5]