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Review: The Flying Boat, Dartford
When life is getting you down, a smile from a stranger goes a very long way indeed.
Sometimes, all it takes is a kind word and a little joke to brighten up your totally rubbish day.
A word of advice though – if it’s these common human courtesies you’re after, The Flying Boat in Dartford is probably not the best place to find them.
Luckily, I’d gone along with a friend for a consolatory drink and some comfort food, so I wasn’t relying too heavily on the bar staff to bring me back from the brink of despair.
Stepping inside this enormous Wetherspoon’s, I was overwhelmed by the high ceilings and lavish décor - it felt a bit like we’d entered a posh hotel lobby.
Feeling peckish, we browsed the familiar ‘Spoons menu, me trying hard to avoid calorie-laden dishes.
Just for us dieting divas, this immense chain has added meals containing 700 calories or less to its tasty(ish) offerings.
“Why don’t you get the skinny chicken burger?” My companion suggested.
“It’s skinny because they take away the chips.” She joked.
Not seeing the funny side whatsoever, a rather stroppy bar supervisor chirped up.
Scowling at our harmless (not to mention private) quip, she retorted: “You get lots and lots of salad instead though.”
Well that told us.
With no friendliness allowed at the bar, my will power vanished - along with my faith in humanity – and I ordered the Mexican burger with jalapenos, guacamole, loads of naughty chips and onion rings.
My chum picked the Italian burger and a much-needed glass of Rosé wine.
Having taken a million pain killers throughout the day, I resisted the urge to follow in wonderful, alcoholic suit and went for a Diet Coke (£12.93 was our total bill).
“Where are you sitting?” Our new friend barked at us.
She most definitely did not like our answer of ‘table 18’ – it seems this piece of furniture wasn’t in its rightful place, and some poor girl was about to get a royal rollocking for the mishap.
Fleeing from the frosty bar, we worked our way through the buzzing boozer to our offensively out-of-place table.
Looking around this grade II listed building, it’s hard to believe Winston Churchill actually stood here to make an address once.
Things have certainly gone downhill since then.
Our food arrived and it was just what you’d expect from a ‘Spoons.
My supposed Mexican burger was less olé, and more of a bore.
With no bite from the invisible jalapenos, the only saving grace was the mediocre guacamole.
In fact, the lady at the bar had far more attitude and spunk than this bland meal.
Travel back in time, and this place would have been a very exciting place to be.
Today, however, it might look quite impressive when you step inside but Churchill took the charm and charisma with him when he left.
Address: 36-42 Spital Street Town Centre, Dartford, Kent DA1 2DT
Decor: *** (posh hotel lobby)
Drink: *** (usual suspects)
Price: **** (kind on the wallet)
Atmosphere: *** (buzzing but frosty)
Staff: *** (quite miserable and frustrated)