Activities & Days Out / 3 August, 2018 / My Baba
The Fox & Pheasant, 1 Billing Rd, Chelsea, London SW10 9UJ
Everywhere is better in summer. Everything is a bit brighter and a bit happier: people, parties and pubs. Chelsea’s Fox & Pheasant is one of those refreshing, happy places. Their recent refurb delighted us with a tree-filled (but not too filled) crisp conservatory with a retractable roof. As we sat down I remarked how much better the place could be with a retractable roof, and moments later, as if by magic (or the server overhearing us), the roof was drawn. I always appreciate an airy and light dining room — no wonder I gushing about the glass roof, ha ha. The Fox and Pheasant is a place to sit until the sun sets in the summer; we also reasoned we’d enjoy it in winter, still bright, but with a patter of rain.
We skipped into James Blunt’s boozer around 7pm. The pub is tucked away from the main road leading to Stamford Bridge. It’s a quaint little local (if you’re a Chelsea local) that Blunt reportedly boasted would be filled “aristocrats and even royalty.” It wasn’t. It was mostly old gentlemen and families having dinner, quietly. Outside is adorned with bright hanging baskets, inside is pub-wooden: floors, walls, doors, tables and stools, marked up against green paint and red leather stool covers. Stepping beyond that, you’ll enter the conservatory as directed by the bar staff — I don’t remember a sign. It’s brighter and the wood persists, this time teamed with plush green booths, olive trees and staff who’re excited about everything they’re serving up. The menu is short: four starters, three salads, five mains, and five desserts. It’s all British produce, of course, and consists of some brilliant pub classic dishes that are just the light, healthy and filling things you’d like to eat in a pub conservatory on a summer night. The likes of chicken liver parfait, Cornish crab, sea bream, sirloin steak, and the quintessential pie and mash all feature.
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I started with a small, generous and delicious smoked salmon salad. Large enough for a lunchtime main, little too large for a starter. My pal went for crab and cured salmon with seaweed cracker, which she described as ‘flavoursome and rich yet not overpowering’. Concerned that I’d overdone it with the salad starter, we awaited the main. The right amount of time elapsed between starter and main, something that rarely happens — mains are usually premature, in my opinion. Torn between the sea bream and brocolli-taleggio tart, I went for the tart on our server’s recommendation. “It’s not what you’ll expect,” he told us. He couldn’t believe quite how fantastic it was when he first tried it. Picture the tart: shortcrust pastry, a generous layer of the taleggio, the Italian’s answer to brie, then some broccolini lolling about on top, blanketed with a small lattice. Pine nuts, broccoli and rocket are then tossed tidily about the plate. It was divine.
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We were passed back the menu and were almost talked into liquid desserts. Why round things off with a coffee when we do a cracking espresso martini, they reason. That’s when we started looking onto the Saturday brunch. It hasn’t been open long but the brunch already has its regulars, whether they go for the roast bacon loin or the Bloody Mary is still to be determined. We reached the end of our pleasant house Chenin blanc and left babbling about how we’d be back soon for brunch.
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