The Phene
REVIEW September 28, 2010
Overall Value
out of 5
Food 
Service 
Ambience 
£43
The Phene , 9 Phene St, London, SW3 5NY

A relaunch of a charming Chelsea boozer as a slightly self-consciously-fashionable rendezvous for the local gilded youth; judged by the standards of such places, the food is pretty good.
As far as we can see, Time Out hasn’t reviewed the relaunch of the Chelsea pub which used to be best known as George Best’s local. Which is a shame. They would hate it so much it would make riveting copy.

Why would they hate it so much? Well, how can we count the ways? To start with, it’s in Chelsea, so everyone – except the Euros, of course – speaks English proper or, worse, posh. Furthermore, almost everyone there is young or pretty or (judging by appearances) loaded. And – horror! – many of the men wear quite nicely cut suits and may even work in financial services. Be warned, reader. Be warned. But here’s the real clincher. The new owner of the Phene, Lilly Bourne, is only 23, and the daughter of two millionaires, married to each other, who live only a Bollie cork’s pop away in Cheyne Walk. You probably can’t take any more of this, so we’ll stop there.

The background, though, is important. Once you know it, the establishment is just as you might expect (or, in TO-speak, fear) – a lot of money has been lavished on it, and the result is (somewhat ostentatiously) stylish. Did we mention that, upstairs, you can buy Lily’s own range of clobber? The new style of the premises is epitomised in the pretty garden, which was the lead attraction in the old days too. Now, it has been made into a sort of beach club for the local jeunesse dorée.

The food, similarly, is broadly as you’d expect. In fact, given that food that goes with fashion is usually incidental, it’s quite good. If it is judged as a complement to the place’s other attractions – there undoubtedly are people who will see them as attractions – it hits the spot pretty well. Perhaps the girlie food is best: we particularly enjoyed an aubergine timbale, for example. More substantial staples, such as steak (sirloin) or fish (pollack) ‘n’ chips were perfectly fine. And the wines are pretty reasonably priced.

So, the Harden’s view? Well, this place isn’t really aimed at us. But if you live locally – and the place is quite explicit that it’s aimed at the locals – you might well like it. Just leave your copy of TO at home.

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