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Thursday, 7 October 2010

The Phene, Chelsea

When moribund boozer The Phene - George Best’s livers’ (yes, that's plural) sometime local - shut, it was presumed lost forever, destined to be turned into yet more desirable London living. Re-floated, with turbo-toff Lily Bourne at the helm, its gazillionaire neighbours seem happy enough to tolerate the brouhaha that is inevitable whenever Sloanes invade a pretty terrace garden. Perhaps a better class of braying sits easy on the ears? Indoors, to either side of a jolly bar, an agreeable mix of red banquette, knick-knacks and old tomes by-the-yard screeches ‘pub nouveau’ while upstairs, chess sets await players in a would-be rakish cocktail lounge-cum-parlour in plummy purple plush. An other room hosts a day-time deli-cum-caff, shut when I look in.  In the bar, Peroni heads the draughts and ciders include the excellent  Polgoon from Cornwall which reminds the blonde surf dudes of hols in Rock, no doubt. ‘Phene colada’ appears on a list of £8 cocktails but a negroni comes with orange juice and much chutzpah on the part of its maker who insists ‘this is the Italian way.’ (Oh, really?) From a sensible wine list, Picpoul de Pinet is right at £23 but dinner disappoints. Artichoke with lemon butter’s lemon seems to have gone AWOL while ham hock, sauce gribiche, is like chewing on a bland rubber band. Burger (comes with claggy chips while roasted sea bass is paired with a mushroom risotto whose salt levels whisk me back to my stock cube sucking days (a childhood fetish).  Puds are better if not entirely er, Phene. Still, the Sloanes seem pleased as , 'yah', Punch with their new Chelsea HQ.

9 Phene Street SW3 7352 3294 www.thephene.com