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ae fareweel alas forever

November 12, 2007

It rained like crazy Saturday afternoon and into the night; it really felt like winter. This time of year, I always began to consider when I might be able to rope someone into going to the Wallace Arms with me, so I was really sad to learn that it was finally closed.

Awhile back I said that Riverview food was perennially terrible, but Wallace Arms food was worse. It’s hard to imagine eating Scottish food almost any time during our hot, sunny California year, and bad Scottish food… well, I’d pretty much run through anyone who would endure that. I loved the way they’d remodeled the place—it always reminded me of the Leaky Cauldron. When it was cold and foggy, the atmosphere was great, and they were the only place in town that made decent tea, when they didn’t claim to be OUT of it (it’s not hard to make decent tea, folks—you just have to boil the water first).

They actually did say they were out of tea one time when we were there. And as bad as their food was, they seemed to be out of most of that as well, most of the time. Usually at least half the items on the seven-or-eight item menu were unavailable, and they hardly ever had any of the desserts. Maybe they just didn’t like us, but the place never seemed to be so flush with customers that they could afford to be particular.

The very first time we went there, right after they opened, almost everything on the plate tasted like it had been scooped directly out of the can. Not heated. Things did improve somewhat—nowhere to go but up, I guess. I personally liked the mushy peas, though I seemed to be a minority of one. They got to be known a little for their fish and chips, and the few times I had it it was pretty good. However, my family went there without me one night for the fish and chips special, and my father got a piece of bad, rather decomposed fish. When he asked the owner “Why is the fish so mushy?” she replied, without missing a beat, “To go with the mushy peas.”

We went there one evening after the boat parade, a few years ago, and Caitlyn, who has been ordering all kinds of things at all kinds of restaurants since she was five years old, absolutely refused to eat anything at all. Her opinion of the place had been sealed. Of course, she was too young to enjoy the bar, which was really nice and had a great selection of beer, and since she refuses to read Harry Potter she wasn’t much attracted by the ambience. Neither of us ever got to hear the live Celtic music, which we both would have loved; I was just happy to know it was taking place somewhere in town. Still, the food was a barrier which, in the end, we couldn’t get past. I hate that they’re gone—they were a wonderful presence here, down by the river—but I wish that they’d tried a little harder.

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