Sadly the Phoenix has now closed (April 2010). A new restaurant, Cantinetta, will rise from the ashes and open in late 2010 in its place. It will be owned by Rebecca Mascarenhas, who owns Sonnys in Barnes, amongst other places. The notes below are now of historical interest only.
Not too far from Putney Bridge, the Phoenix has modern décor with a bright, relaxed feel. The table we had was perhaps the smallest I have ever seen, so I felt a bit like a character in “Land of the Giants”. Bread was mixed, with good foccacia but walnut bread that had no discernable walnuts, and which had an overly thick texture, while brown bread slices were a little heavy but OK. For starters I had an oddball dish in the otherwise Italian menu, a Thai pork wrap. This consisted of two balls of lettuce containing slightly spicy minced pork with peanuts, chilli and basil. This dish is, I believe, more Laotian in origin than Thai, but was executed pretty well. The addition of a few orange segments was not a noticeably good idea, nor is it authentic. Not as good as the version of the dish that used to be served at the old Thailand in New Cross, but still worth 12/20. My wife's pasta with “barba di frate” (a salty vegetable rather like samphire) and sun-blushed tomatoes was better, the pasta having excellent texture and flavour (15/20).
For main course my wife’s sea bass with artichokes was carefully cooked (14/20). I had an “18th century recipe” of essentially a creamy lasagne made with cep mushrooms, truffle and Parma ham. Again the pasta was very good indeed, and the Parmesan and Parma ham worked well with the mushrooms (16/20). We didn’t have desserts, but coffee was extremely good (17/20). Two quibbles here: service, which was of the “who ordered what?” variety, it being difficult to get attention and serving wine that was so warm that I had to ask for an ice bucket for the red wine (Cigare Volant) that we ordered. The other issue is price, with main courses by no means cheap and vegetables extra, we are up in Zafferanos price territory for a distinctly less slick and consistent experience. The introduction of Frank Tanuschio from the Walnut Tree as executive chef seems to have had little effect either way on the culinary level.