After rushing home at lunchtime with a huge bunch of lime green lilys for Leakhana, I presented my lovely wife with her anniversary present – a 5 photo framed board of Apsara dancers. She absolutely loved it and it is now hanging in our bedroom. As I said on the card, she really is my heavenly Apsara ! ( cue ; violins ).
That night whilst the wife went off to get her hair done ( as any chap married to a Khmer lass will tell you….an important night out CANNOT happen without a visit to the Salon ) I showered and shaved and climbed into some finery including my freshly tailored hot pink French cuffed shirt complete with mother of pearl cuff links and my Beautiful Shoe Co Gucci style slides. Leakhana arrived back from the salon and had a few moments of fashion crisis before wisely choosing the “Bridget Bardot Swinging Sixties Cocktail dress” that Camille bought for her in Los Angeles. She looks so hot in this dress its amazing. With Grace being babysat by mum, we headed out into the night in a Tuk Tuk with alot of love in the air ( cue ; more violins).
Leakhana had no idea where we were going and first stop a building called The Place ( I guess the THE should be in Italics ?) which looks straight up Sihanouk Boulevard to Independence Monument. The first thing that hits you when you walk into The Place is the opulence. Black marble floors and walls and heavily silk embroidered silk upholsteries with crystal chandeliers overhead create a somewhat faux Versace-esque feeling. We are personally escorted by a staff member via the elevator to the 9th floor Sky Bar and this is indeed an eye opener. Whilst absolutely nothing like the Sky Bar in LA it is certainly probably the swishest place for a drink in Phnom Penh. The Chinese owners and designers have done a good job of creating a pretty amazing space, with many comfortable tables set up on a raised deck providing excellent vantage points to soak in the amazing 360 degree city views.
After the initial sticker shock of the drinks prices ,we ordered two Martinis ( US$6 a pop ), an Espresso Martini for Leakhana and an extra Dry Gin Martini for me and then we sit down and take in the surrounds. There are some innovative firsts ; a dumb waiter to the ground floor kitchen for food and swish palm devices for all staff to order drinks on , however there are some of the usual ” why did you go to all the trouble and expense yet miss these…..” frustrations ; The lighting is shocking with bright white wall mounted lights providing the majority of the light. Some ambient silk lights here and there would have been much nicer. The young DJ absolutely SUCKED. 80s piano bar music a la Billy Joel, Elton John etc and then when he wasn’t playing, some long haired Chinese crooner with an electric Piano started up in the corner doing his best Air Supply songs. Have you ever heard a Chinese guy sing Air Suppry ? ” I’m or out of ruv, what am I wiwout you…..”. Shocking. Hotel Costes tunes from a simple MP3 would have been much nicer.The drinks were terrible. My “extra dry” martini was sopping wet and the olives were pathetic little out-of-a-jar numbers whilst Leakhana’s Espresso Martini was so sweet it was horrid. Sorry…but if I am paying $6 I want Metro ( a riverfront bar ) quality cocktails. Needless to say, it was nice but we soon scampered for dinner.
We had driven past Bistro Lorenzo on Street 63 many times with its alluring front and
thought ” wonder that that’s like…”. After visiting 6 restaurants in the week before and perusing menus and wine prices etc, I decided that although this came in at the cheaper end of the scale, it was worth a shot. With a warm interior and a simply mouth watering and dizzying menu of Italian, Filipino, Middle Eastern and even Australian dishes…..I was looking forward to the food and hoping it would deliver. We were shown to a nice little table and soon had two frosty San Miguel beers in front of us and whilst Leakhana ordered some chicken and corn soup for entree, I ordered up some little toastie things that had melted mozzarella and sardines in the middle. Both these were fantastic. A bottle of Chilean Merlot was opened and a mixed platter of sizzling seafood Filipino style was delivered to the table with some steaming white rice. Again – bloody fantastic. To cap it all off, a creme caramel( $1 !! ) and some crepes with mango sorbet and vanilla ice cream ensured we were completely satiated. Another round of San Miguel beers and it was time to go. The food was fantastic and incredible value ( all up it was $35 ) but the service was crap. It seemed like every staff member ( all Filipino guys ) had a PS2 game device that they were intent on playing and I had to stop myself from wolf whistling every time we needed something. Would /will definitely go again.
Next stop, Riverhouse Lounge’s new downstairs bar which is very nice indeed. Tastefully kitted out and spacious with comfortable seats and couches everywhere, it will really cement RH as the one stop destination for eating, drinking and dancing. A quick beer at the bar and then upstairs for another and it was then home at a very respectable 10.30pm. A great night with my gorgeous wife and looking forward to everything the 2nd year brings.