23/06/2012 at 12:40 | Posted in Crawls | 1 Comment
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Elvis Costello may not want to go to Chelsea, but Phil took a few of us for a crawl around it in June 2012 and we found some lovely pubs.

We met up at the Phoenix on Smith Street, just off the King’s Road. It’s a small corner pub, but being Chelsea this is no old fashioned neighbourhood local but a smart revamped pub run by Geronimo Inns. It’s got a lovely interior, only spoilt somewhat by the fact that half the tables were empty and reserved. It’s a pub on Friday evening, first come first served surely? Anyway there was room to sit outside and luckily it was warm enough to do so. There were two good ales on, including Sharp’s very Cornish Atlantic IPA, which was so nice we stayed for a couple of pints before setting out.

From here we took a slightly roundabout walk to take in the Royal Hospital, built by Sir Christopher Wren and world famous for its Chelsea Pensioner residents and the Chelsea Flower Show, as well as the National Army Museum and Tite Street, home of many artistic types over the years including Oscar Wilde.

The next pub can be found tucked away down a very quiet street and was something of a surprise, being called The Surprise – that’s a new name on me, and I suspect quite unique! This is another modern-flavoured Geronimo pub,and until we arrived and lowered the tone was wall to wall with the beautiful people of Chelsea! This is a bit larger than the Phoenix, with two bar areas and a central servery, with a couple of ales on. They did have a TV though and we caught the start of the Germany v Greece Euro 2012 match here.

A short stroll from the Surprise is the Coopers Arms on Flood Street, a Young’s pub which is probably bigger than the previous two pubs combined despite its relatively modest corner location, and also has a small garden. It’s similar in decor, in the modern pub fashion – lots of wood, and very bright with large windows making the most of the midsummer evening. The Young’s and Sambrooks Wandle slipped down nicely.  The football was on but again was very unobtrusive, and the first goalscorer sweepstake cash changed hands as Germany took the lead.

Another short stroll through some gorgeous Chelsea streets brought us to the famous Phene. When it was a more traditional pub George Best was one of its regular patrons, but he probably wouldn’t recognise it today, it’s been thoroughly modernised and the beer garden has to be seen to be believed; it feels more a bar than a pub.

There’s a doorman now, so it’s a good job we were a small group this month or we may not have passed muster. On the bar was a large range of bar drinks but no handpumps, so we had to forego real ale for this round; a keg version of London Pride was as close as we could get! The football was on again, but not dominating the place, and we enjoyed sitting next to the bevy of young German ladies on the next table who were there to see Germany progress to the next round! All in all while it wasn’t as traditional as our usual places and there’s no real ale, they’ve done a good job with it and it’s certainly pulling in the punters.

We headed past a few pieces of old Chelsea next, with Phil pointing out delights including the old courthouse and Chelsea Old Church, once the parish church for the village of Chelsea and home church of Sir Thomas More, who planned to be buried here but ended up instead with his head on a spike on London Bridge. It’s also where my wife did a reading at her cousin’s marriage, so I have nice memories of the church, which retains its traditional interior following its 1950s reconstruction (it was destroyed by bombing in WW2).

Our next port of call was the venue of our pre-wedding drinks a couple of years previously, the Pig’s Ear. I’m pleased to say it’s not as foodie as it looks on the website, it is a proper pub and they too were serving Sambrooks ales, brewed not far away across the Thames in Battersea.

Heading away from the Thames now, we called next at the Cadogan Arms on the King’s Road. This is yet another pub decorated in the modern upmarket way with a bit of a food focus, as well as a posh pool room. They did decent ales, and the place was nice and lively without being boisterous.

Heading north again we called at the Anglesea Arms but found that we had missed last orders, so continued on towards South Ken tube station and went for our final beer in the Zetland Arms. The last pub of the evening was the first to be decorated in the more normal unmodernised late Victorian style, under the Taylor Walker branding. We were pleased to find them serving the Marstons Single Hop seasonal beers, with this month’s offering being Maryinka, brewed with Polish hops.

Greece were knocked out of Euro 2012 but we gave a little salute to their valiant but unsuccessful efforts with our delicious anglo-polish beers. Cheers!


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