The Phoenix is an attractive and traditional pub. Just the sort that tourists long to find and locals want to have as their local. These establishments were becoming thin on the ground but thankfully there are many pubs now that are returning to those old-fashioned values that made British public houses so celebrated across the globe. A place to have a good time with many original features.
It’s just a five minute walk from Victoria Station and not far from Buckingham Palace, although nobody has suggested that HM has ever popped in for a schooner of sherry. This is an oasis of homey comfort and good food which beckons office workers for lunch, locals in the evenings and tourists at the weekends. Those good folks will return home with tales of “the cutest pub you ever did see” and “Abner just loves the food those Britishers eat over there”.
The first floor private dining room at The Phoenix is home to the Geronimo Training School. That isn’t a university for renegade Native Americans. The Geronimo in question is a company that over the past decade and a half has earned a reputation for quality pubs. The recent accolade “Food Operator of the Year 2010” from The Great British Pub Food Awards illustrates that they have been recognised by the food and beverage industry for continued high standards.
In January 2011 The Phoenix become the HQ of the Geronimo Inns’ first training kitchen. This project is overseen by Executive Chef Peter Wright, who will give guests the opportunity to be the first to try new seasonal dishes before they are introduced to the pubs in the group. The training kitchen will be serving lunches from 12-3pm from Tuesday to Thursday every week and one can choose from a daily changing menu of 3 starters, 3 mains and 3 desserts. Guest comments are encouraged, with diners being requested to fill out a simple questionnaire about both the food and the service.
No need to feel anxious about the “training” aspect of the kitchen. It’s just a way of refining dishes and allowing chefs to learn about the new menu, to enable them to present uniformly high-end food at any of the Geronimo inns. Both the kitchen staff and front-of-house team did a grand job when I visited in January. The room was full, with a large party of office workers. They all seemed to enjoy their meals (I had a peek at their questionnaires), which all arrived in a timely fashion. I have seen “restaurants” fare less well under pressure.
It’s about now in my review that I wax lyrical about the dishes I ate. I might encourage my reader to try those very same dishes on their visit to a particular restaurant. I might recommend the signature dish that is sorely missed by regulars when the chef has the temerity to remove it from the menu. I can only tell you that the dishes you will be offered will likely not be the same as those I ordered. It’s the nature of a training kitchen that those seasonal recipes will change frequently. Suffice it to say that my quiche was ample and unbeatable, and that the slow-cooked pork belly (very trendy these days) was tender of texture with delicate aromatic flavour, and that the marmalade pudding was a real, honest comfort pud – the sort I would remember from my boarding school if I had ever been to one.
The first floor of The Phoenix does not disappoint. It has a rustic yet contemporary decor. The wooden tables are eminently covetable. The food represents pub grub at its gastronomic best and the serving staff are friendly. One could ask for nothing more …apart from, perhaps, the recipe for that pudding.
Tuesday – Thursday, 12-3pm (bookings taken 7 days in advance or walk-ins)
2 courses for £10.00
3 courses for £13.50
11am – 11.00pm (Mon-Sat)
12pm – 10.30pm (Sunday)
14 Palace Street, Victoria, London SW1E 5JA
Phone: 020 7828 8136
Visit the Phoenix here.
Restaurant and Pub review by Chrissie Walker © 2018