Have you ever had the feeling that the packaging tastes better than the food served to you? I had that today when I visited the Danson Stables in Danson Park, Bexleyheath. The restaurant was set in the lush green surroundings of Danson Park, in a converted stable block. Even the décor was unique in nature, with its former purpose writ large as framed pictures of horses stare at you from the walls, with the most paranoid having nightmares about the mares. If you were trampled by horses as a kid, would your PTSD be that bad that you couldn't eat there? Shame horsemeat wasn't on the menu, as I haven't had that in years.
The menu was typical pub fare, as you'd expect, such as Pie and Mash and curry. The latter was bland, if pleasant. It's not what you'd get from the Brick Lane curry houses, it didn't have the intricacy of tastes you would expect from a curry. Heat isn't everything, as I discovered years ago. The chicken was pleasant tasting and chewy but the sauce was somewhat lacking in flavour. I would have expected spice, but also sourness or sweetness to break the wall of chilli power and something to provide texture, such as onions, peppers or other vegetables.
Being pub fare, it was served with boiled rice, an onion Bhaji and a tiny Naan Bread that Katie Price could use as a G-string. On second thoughts, it would insult starving people in refugee camps to use it as one. That said, it was smaller than what you get in an Indian takaway, the surplus of sauce could overpower the meagre leaf of bread. You needed an actual mop to mop it up, even though the sauce was quite bland in itself, both in taste an texture.
It also lacked a good vegetable dish, such as a vegetable Dansak or Motor Paneer (cheesy peas) as a foil for the meat, not that there was much of that. What made it worse was the slow service, with the waitress asking if we wanted a break after our starter. I found this a bit odd, as all six of us were demolishing a massive sharing platter as a starter. I could only see two waitresses in the establishment and it was quite empty. Wouldn't you expect them to be more attentive in quiet periods? Not sycophantically fawning, but sparky enough to show initiative and do other stuff, such as cleaning and laying tables.
I've had better, but this is an interesting contrast to what I normally get because I really appreciate how good that is. If I had something else, like a steak, I could be saying something different, but one meal doesn't make a menu. If you want my advice, there are better Indian restaurants and takeaways to go to, but does Danson Stables curry my favour? I think not.