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The Aussie-style hamburger
The Aussie-style hamburger is a treat. Eli Meixler

A good place to meat up and lounge by the pool

A new Australian owner has transformed the old Elsewhere into a BBQ-lover’s paradise but wisely kept the pool – and cheap drinks

Previously known as party central for Phnom Penh expats, the elegant white building opposite Equinox on “Golden Street” has been given a bovine twist. The Laneway Boutique Guesthouse, Bar and Grill now combines a chic poolside atmosphere with some of the tenderest cuts of meat in the city.

Veteran Phnom Penh residents might remember when the building was occupied by Elsewhere, known for rambunctious “First Friday” parties that ultimately led to its closure in 2012 due to noise complaints.

It was replaced by Aqua Restaurant, which specialised in molecular gastronomy, before briefly reverting back to the Elsewhere brand in late 2013. Its current owner, an Australian named David Moore, who took over the property last summer, said he aims to bring the venue back to its roots as a relaxed poolside hangout, albeit with fewer loud parties.

“I’m just trying to make a relaxing atmosphere with the pool and food,” said Moore, who hails from Darwin.

Despite the constant changes in ownership, the space looks much like it ever has – visitors still wallow with drinks in the shallow pool with its vertical fountain.

The Laneway
There’s no waiting an hour after eating before hitting the pool at The Laneway. Eli Meixler

The menu, however, has lost its former fusion flair, replaced with barbecue essentials sourced from Australia. The Laneway Mixed Grill ($15) with beef steak, lamb chops, sausage, grilled chicken and a slice of bacon provides the opportunity to sample most of them. The beef comes out delightfully rare and juicy, which is not easy to find in this city. The lamb chop – another relative rarity in Phnom Penh – is also a welcome addition.

Another menu highlight is the Laneway Burger ($5.50), an Australian-style hamburger packed with beef, bacon, a fried egg and cheese. As with the steak, the Australian meat patty was refreshingly juicy and tender – unlike most of the lacklustre beef that is available locally.

For those just looking to snack while lazing in the pool, tempura prawns ($5), calamari ($3), and other finger foods are also available.

The Laneway’s low-priced drinks are among the cheapest on the Street 278 strip. All cocktails, including the Laneway Mojito, which has a butterscotch and passion fruit juice twist, are $3, while draft beer is $1. All spirits, which cost $2.50 to $3 a shot, come with complimentary mixers. And to sweeten the deal, a 4pm to 8pm happy hour knocks beers down to 75 cents and cocktails to $2.50.

The thoroughly debunked myth that one must wait an hour after eating before taking a swim has been doubly demolished at The Laneway. It may not be the most original concept – Phnom Penh now has plenty of boutique poolside hangouts – but the cheap drinks and mouthwatering steaks make it worth a visit.

The Laneway is located at #2 Street 278. Tel: 089 985 956.

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