DECOR ** (bland, identikit design) DRINK ** (chilled ale gets me hot and bothered) PRICE **** (cheap and cheerful) ATMOSPHERE * (chavtastic) STAFF *** (friendly and efficient but nothing to rave about)
SOME people take up pottery, yoga or planking for kicks at the weekend. I, on the other hand, get my thrills from judging others based on how flammable their clothes and hair are.
The William Camden in Bexleyheath is a pyromaniac’s wet dream, with a strict dress code of polyester trackie bottoms, Burberry caps, Croydon face-lifts and more muffin tops on show than in a High Street bakery window.
One spark here and the whole place would go down in flames.
That might not be such a bad thing, as the boozer, which largely caters for local oiks and commuters using the station across the road, has about as much character as a service station hotel lobby.
The owners have definitely been to one too many Wetherspoon pubs, with the identikit printed wallpaper, faux fireplace and polished wooden bar and tables.
Fortunately they have steered clear of the eau-de-vomit, sticky bar top and garish patterned carpet embedded with snacks and beer.
The establishment is split in two, with one room featuring pool tables and the other decked out with the obligatory fruit machines and plasma screens, acting like a 21st century opiate for the masses, keeping thirsty punters from wandering out the front door in search of a more fulfiling drinking experience.
All could be forgiven if the booze was up to scratch.
But, as with my last visit a couple of years ago, the only version of Greene King IPA (£2.70) on tap is of the keg variety and served ice cold.
To chill a perfectly good ale damages the flavour and destroys centuries of brewing history.
There is, however, plenty of lager on tap but the wine menu features a range of plonk I wouldn’t use to unblock my sink let alone line my stomach with.
Wincing at what amounts to a crime against beer, I found a table by the window to sit and wait for my beer to reach room temperature.
Unfortunately, the benches are too low for the high table and I found myself seeing life through the eyes of a midget or seriously underaged drinker.
Feeling vertically challenged for the first time in my life, I flicked through the food menu hoping for a glimmer of inspiration but it was equally dull and humdrum with the usual pub grub fare of burgers and artery-clogging traditional stodge.
It’s pretty reasonably priced though, with two meals for £8.95, available on selected dishes, Monday to Saturday.
For lovers of Indian cuisine there is also the ubiquitous curry and beer deal on offer.
Its close proximity to the station means The William Camden is a tempting place to stop for a quick drink on the way home from work or as a rendezvous before heading to more exciting climes.
However, the high percentage of binge drinking chavs, necking pints and seemingly looking for trouble is a definite turn-off.
So despite the friendly bar staff, no amount of properly served ale could tempt me back here.
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