Open Mon–Sat 10am–11pm, Sun 10am–10.30pm
This once infamous haunt of George Best has been privy to a total revamp, taking it from a dodgy old boozer to an up-market, happening public house.
The attractive terrace area looks like an Indian Ocean advert, decked out with attractive hammock-like chairs and plush sofas. Upstairs there is a luxurious lounge area drowning in rich purple velvet and shell chandeliers. On our visit, it was hosting a function but normally this promises to be a great spot for a pre-dinner cocktail. The pub also boasts a quaint deli area and even a pop-up shop, but the heart of this hang-out is in the main bar area; dark and cosy. The dedicated restaurant area has promise. However we were seated at the back on a wobbly white plastic table backed by an unappealing wall with lots of exposed plug sockets and a tatty-looking curtain, which was a shame given the opulence of the rest of the pub.
The Phene is now brimming with well-bred Sloane Rangers; it’s lucky the chairs are comfy here as you could spend all night people watching and eavesdropping. The bar has a really relaxed, sociable feel to it with charming staff and content customers.
The menu has a distinctly British feel and caters to most tastes. For starters we ordered the steamed globe artichoke with salted lemon butter sauce (£6.50) which looked impressive but lacked depth. The cherry tomato, organic goat’s cheese and pesto tart (£7.50), however, was totally delicious; the subtly tangy goat’s cheese cut through the sweetness of the balsamic fig accompaniment, although the runner bean salad didn’t quite work.
For mains I opted for the pan seared fillet of sea bass with caper and parsley butter sauce (£16.50) which was perfectly cooked with a delicious crispy sweetness. My friend chose the grilled swordfish with balsamic roast aubergine and rocket leaves (£15) which unlike many pubs’ attempt at the dish managed to maintain its moisture and please the palate.
The tempting desert list ensured that even the fullest of diners managed to squeeze in an extra course. The 70 per cent cocoa white chocolate chip brownie (£6.50) was dangerously morish; served warm it had an addictive gooey-ness but the chocolate ice cream distracted from the main event, a homemade crème anglaise would have perfected the dish.
With a good-sized wine menu to peruse we settled on a bottle of Chilean Sauvignon Blanc (£20) which was a good, easy-drinking option. They also serve a number of Chelsea-themed cocktails such as the Phene Colada (£8) which seemed to be popular on our visit, plus a good selection of champagnes, naturally.