The Chelsea is a beautifully designed reincarnation of what had been a muddled concept – a sports bar cum gastro pub. It has been transformed into the sort of venue for BT9 residents, or those who aspire to be part of Belfast’s nouveau riche, with a round bar on the ground floor.
My socialist leanings make me shy away from such attractions, but you can’t take the pub out of the public schoolboy. They had a 10 year old Laphroaig which warmed on its way down with the sort of peatiness I enjoy. The barman was chatty and let me smell the single malts. Apparently the ones that have an aroma of toffee do not have a toffee taste.
Sunday lunchtime requires a stroll and the Albany is not too taxing a walk from the Chelsea. They have a bar snack menu that includes tempura prawns and a design concept that puts practicality first. There is a long bar with a high ceiling and cleverly subdued lighting. I like the huge chandeliers that go with the high ceiling. A pint and a generous portion of cocktail sausages will set you back about a tenner.
The back room is set up for functions and a wedding party was enjoying the music played by a couple of guitarists.