Reinventing a classic is an audacious act that occasionally produces brilliance, as with the new, more violent Batman, presumably the inspiration for the new, more violent Christian Bale. For a legendary Chelsea boozer getting completely re-jigged, check out The Phene, opening today.
Supplying local bevs for over a century and a half before closing in '06, Phene's been completely reinvented as a modern gastro, with the ground-level hosting an oak-floor boozer outfitted with red leather banquettes, an open fire, and books intermingled with the bar's liquor lineup, plus an airy deli space with a marble breakfast bar and a retractable, Sky Sport-ing projector; upstairs sees an opulent, sofa-decked, proudly purple lounge, while outside's a heated terrace with hanging seats and tree stools, leaving you stumped for somewhere to sit. Starters run from steamed, lemon-butter-sauced globe artichokes to a ham-hock frisee/crouton/chopped egg salad, while bigger stuff includes an all-day English breakfast, the free-range minced steak "Phene Burger" w/ homemade ketchup & hand cut chips, and, served with minted pea puree, a beer-battered pollack, unsurprising given how the pollack is known to drink like a fish. The deli vends all manner of homemade sauces, oils, and jams, as well as daily baked bread and sandwiches from a salt beef/gherkin/cress number to the mozz/prosciutto "Italian Croque Monsieur", whose Croque Madame left him after he fertilized every other egg in town.
Enlightenment's achieved via traditional cocktails (Manhattans/Old Fashioneds to Caipirinhas/Mojitos); specialties like the Chambord-addled "Phene Colada" and the spiced rum/orange/mango/raspberry "Phene"; and ciders including Breton and four types of Polgoon, a Cornish variety made using the same techniques as Champagne, for a re-invention that could lead to a very violent dark night.