How sad to note the demise of the Walrus and Carpenter restaurant after nearly thirty seven years. This cosy little eatery truly deserves its reputation as a Bath institution. In the seventies many an Arts Workshop and Natural Theatre stalwart would supplement their meagre earnings with an evening stint behind an apron. In fact, it could be said that the founders of the Walrus kept half the arts scene in Bath going, either in gainful employment or in vast mountains of reasonably priced and delicious food.
The towering ‘architect designed artichoke salad’ which was on the menu for years really was designed by an architect who later helped turn a hovel in Bradford on Avon into my dream cottage. Another regular staff member went on to be part of the writing team for Hollyoaks. The original owner eventually became a judge and is still an active Naturals board member.
The walls of the quaint establishment were crammed with posters for myriad events. They always found room to advertise your next project, even though they never seemed to take anything down. It was like dining in a living archive of past pleasures.
Many a great evening at the Walrus will be fondly remembered. Once, knowing I was on a sponsored slim, the owner presented me with a translucent sliver of rare steak and a modest scattering of pencil-thin fries. I had in a moment of weakness ordered the full burger experience. Just to encourage my endeavours he then wheeled out a huge sack of potatoes to remind me how much I had pledged to lose.
On one occasion after a particularly raucous celebration, someone decided to tip a jug of water on the birthday girl’s head from an upstairs window. It landed fair and square on a fortunately forgiving police woman sent to find out what all the noise was about.
Being regulars, we hated change. We were sneery when they added a cocktail bar. But needless to say we got used to it in no time! And in those days the opening of a cocktail bar in Bath was seen as something terribly exciting.
As the chains take over, we would do well to support those establishments that display independent spirit. Farewell, Walrus, and well done Carpenter!