Taverns in Town #16: The Phoenix, Smith Street SW3

The next pub on my Chelsea jaunt was another Geronimo Inns pub, but it was a different story to The Builder’s Arms. Smith Street is just off the King’s Road at the Sloane Square end, almost next door to the Royal Hospital, home to the famous Chelsea Pensioners, although I didn’t see any of them when I was there.

If it’s your kind of thing, this is a modern gastropub done pretty well. You aren’t made to feel uncomfortable if you just come in for a drink. This pub is posh, but not pretentious, comfortable and friendly, with a good mix of people. The description in Taverns in Town suggests that little has changed since 1973:

“Such polite functions as the annual Chelsea Flower Show, or many spacious and gracefully laid out thoroughfares lined by fine town mansions that have defied the trend towards transmogrification into apartment buildings, all characterise a part of London into which such a tavern as the Phoenix, with its good array of hot and cold bar food and its air of being a little removed from bustle, fits most successfully and naturally.”

As depicted in the book, as it is today, an interior shot from the pub's website

As depicted in the book, as it is today, an interior shot from the pub’s website

On my visit, it was refreshing to still see a pint of ale for less than £4, albeit only just. I had a perfectly kept pint of Sambrooks Wandle for £3.95. The barman was friendly and chatty and gave me directions to my next destination. There was a good range of beers, although if craft is your thing you won’t find much to please you. There was also a decent range of premium spirits such as Sipsmith, Patron, Grey Goose and Monkey Shoulder and a broad menu of cocktails. This pub comes recommended if you are after a quiet pint away from the noise and bustle of the King’s Road.


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