Mick and I generally don’t eat much Western food when we go out, much to the dismay of our friends. I find that the options for asian food are much more interesting and exciting, not to mention cheaper. And knowing how to cook Western food probably adds to that disinterest when we eat out. A lot of the “barang” restaurants here serve up food that Mick and I don’t eat either – burgers, pizza & pasta – and often its a letdown. I think in Australia we are spoilt for reasonably priced pub fare that sets you up for disappointment in other places. Shakespeare’s Hotel in Surry Hills, for example, has big generous servings of salads, grilled meats, lamb shanks and schnitzels for $12.50. You can eat a steak for $10 at some places on given nights, and you are usually rewarded with a delicious meal. Sometimes the places here serve up chewy steaks, limp salads and weird combinations of dishes.
Despite all this we made an exception and went to a lovely spot in BKK called Comme a la Masion. This restaurant is a european-style restaurant with an attached bakery that apparently has some of the most delicious chocolate eclairs, ever! (Thanks for that tip, Bron). On the recommendation and some searching online, we made our way over to Street 57 for a fancy-schmancy dinner for two.
The restaurant is set in a lovely garden area with Khmer-style touches such as the thatched roof and garden which features bamboo plants for privacy. Seating is separated into smoking and non smoking which is a great feature. So many places fail to do this and it makes for a very unpleasant dinner. Unfortunately I made the mistake of choosing to sit in the smoking area (sorry Mick) – it was that or sit beside the weird old-western guy with his young Cambodian “friend”. I thought that because the restaurant was mostly empty, it would remain that way. Whoops!
We went all out for dinner with 2 entrees, 2 mains, 2 wines, dessert & port! All up that cost us $60, pretty expensive for Phnom Penh and definitely not a regular spot or cost for us, but it was worth it.
For entree we shared an antipasto plate (M) and a fish carpaccio with pesto and capers. The antipasto plate was a yummy plate of pickled vegetables (the baby cucumbers were standout), cured meat, olives, sundried tomatoes and some fetta cheese and olive oil that came with a bread basket too for those who like their breads. The carpaccio was a plate full of delicate slices of ocean-fish served with a garnish of salad, drizzle of pesto and capers dotted around the dish. Both were excellent and we gobbled them down.
For mains, I chose the beef fillet with steamed vegetables and blue cheese sauce (a very reasonable price at $7!) and Mick had lamb tenderloins with salad and pepper sauce ($13). Both were cooked exactly as requested and it was nice to have the sauces on the side – so often a restaurant thickly layers a sauce all over a meat and it can often overwhelm the actual meat and vegetables.
We shared desserts – a creme caramel and vanilla bean icecream. This icecream was one of the best I have ever had and it was flecked with the tiny black means of the vanilla pod – YUM. The actual flavour was a deep rich vanilla while not being overwhelmed with sugary sweetness that so many icecreams are. The creme caramel was also not overly-sweet and had a nice burnt-caramel flavour to it and very soft custard. Delicous!
We ended the evening with a port (oh la la!) which came out as a wine-sized serving. Oh dear! By the end of the meal and the drinks we were both full to the brim, feeling a bit jolly and we wandered off home happy little vegemites.
Comme á la Masion: 13-15 Street 57, BKK 1, Phnom Penh