Tell Restaurant and BarDecember 29, 2005
Swiss, German, International, Khmer.
13, Street 90, Phnom Penh Tel: 012 870 119 Email: email@example.com
Beer garden style seating available outside or Spanish taverna meets IKEA inside.
VISA and MasterCard accepted; big bike enthusiasts welcomed warmly.
It is difficult to review a restaurant, any restaurant, based solely on something as ubiquitous as a buffet. That difficulty is further compounded when the buffet in question is for Christmas lunch.
However, with the buffet in question only comprising of one of the nine courses that we were having, some reasonable assumptions could be made about the usual quality of the food; which on my reflection is somewhere in the ‘good’ to ‘bloody good’ range.
After some small wrangling between our Khmer ladies and the waitress, they opted out of the western food and selected several Khmer dishes for themselves.
We, on the other hand, had decided on what we wanted about a week ago. The full nine course Christmas blow-out, complete with an all you can eat buffet as the main course. All that we needed to do was pick a wine!
While we were waiting for the first course to turn up, the waitress brought over a basket of black bread and some individual side dishes of butter; these were then constantly replenished throughout the meal, now normally I find black bread a little too heavy, but this was cut into small two inch squares a mere quarter of an inch thick, easy enough to nibble and digest. As we had all skipped breakfast, we set about it while simultaneously tasting the wine.
Then, the real challenge began; the waitress shuffled into view transporting:
Grilled Nuremberg Sausage on Sauerkraut
For some reason I had expected this to be a cold starter, possibly due to unpleasant memories of cold and acidic sauerkraut from my childhood. Happily this was not acidic, it was warm and tasty; the Bavarian pork belly sausage, flavoured with marjoram, pepper and ginger was authentically delicious.
Homemade Gravlax (fresh marinated smoked salmon),’served with a bouquet of fresh lettuce in a cream cheese dressing
Proper smoked salmon is not that florescent pink stuff you find in supermarkets; it has a paler colour and a much firmer texture – ideally being cool smoked whole over barely smouldering oak chips, mmm.
Beef Consomme with Liver Dumpling
This was not some watery excuse for a consomme that you often get in London restaurants, the kind of ‘just beef stock’ that I would only use as a base or a stew or for further reducing. No this was packed with flavour, the liver dumpling was slightly larger than a golf ball and virtually fell apart as I probed it with a spoon, light and fluffy, mixed with a little onion.
Poached Red Snapper Rolls, in a Chardonnay Cream Sauce on a bed of sauted Spinach
I seem to have almost gone off eating fish, since I arrived here in the Land of Fish, and seeing as I started working for the Ministry of Fish, but this dish was just exquisite; tiny rolled fillets of red snapper, the sauce delicate and not over powering the taste at all ? in fact, I was forced to mop up the surplus sauce with some of the never ending black bread.
Homemade Duck Pate with Cumberland Sauce
Now I have to be honest, I love a good pate and this was as good as I have had in a long time. I had been looking forward to this particular course sine the start of the meal (over an hour ago at this point, we were pacing ourselves!) the Cumberland sauce had the correct, rich, current and Port flavour.
Main Course: All you can eat Christmas Buffet
The Christmas (endless) Buffet consisted of:
Roast Smoked Turkey; mushroom and pistachio stuffing, gravy
Honey Glazed Ham
Leg of Pork
Roast Beef with B?arnaise Sauce
As well as; Mashed Potatoes, Braised Red Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts, Creamy Mixed Vegetables, Glazed Roasted Chestnuts and Baked Apples stuffed with Cranberry Sauce.
Oh, and I nearly forgot, there were some rice and noodle dishes up there as well, which I just walked straight past – oops, Bon Voyage my little Khmer provisions.
After several visits to the buffet table, a constitution stroll outside in the garden and a quick chat with Werner the owner about big motorbikes (he has an 800cc chopper, ooo err) we felt able to return to the table for the rest of this epicurean onslaught. I was ready at this point to move on to the next course, but one of my fellow diners, a great trencherman in the making, insisted on revisiting the buffet table, on his return he was cradling a plate containing a two inch slab of roast beef drowned in Sauce Bearnaise and a couple of dozen sprouts.
A sweet relief after so much meat and savoury accompaniments. This perfectly made example of the Italian classic had all of its flavours in balance, rather than the taste of coffee overpowering everything which is so often the norm. Served with a generous helping of fresh whipped cream and a brandy inebriated cheery to top it off.
Pineapple, banana, grapes, mango.
Tea or Coffee
After all that, I nearly managed to finish half of my coffee.
Over three hours after first sitting down with our menus we were done – in more ways than one. I felt like I would explode if I even inhaled to swiftly. Waddling and wobbling out of the restaurant to where our car and driver was awaiting we felt fit to burst, Mr Creosote would have been proud of the display.
As we collapsed into the Camry bucket seats a swift decision was made, it was to be back to Fathead’s Mansion for Cheese (Danish Blue, Mature Cheddar, Camembert) and biscuits – and of course, more red wine -slumped on handmade sofas, while watching some innocuous movie or another and possibly having a small post prandial snooze.
The full nine course lunch was US$22:50 a head, which was considerably cheaper than all of the International Hotels in town that were offering three or five course lunches, at up to US$54.
You could, were one so inclined, have opted for just the Christmas Buffet at US$14:50, but the extra eight courses for only an extra US$8 seemed like exceptionally good value to us; not too mention a glutinous prerequisite for yuletide feasting.
To accompany such an assortment, not to mention volume, of food; we selected a 2002 Shiraz from somewhere in South East Australia for US$19:50. alas, I can not remember the name of the wine, nor the producer, but then again, two of us did consume four bottles of wine over our Christmas Day, so I think that I can be allowed a little lapse in memory or two dear reader.
I honestly believe that we found some of the best food available in Phnom Penh this Christmas, at a more than reasonable price; of course, we could have just gone over to Prey Leap and had fish head curry and stir fried chicken knuckles with boiled rice for a couple of dollars a head, however, Christmas is but once a year, even in Cambodia.
Queries, comments, suggestions and gastroenterological concerns to: