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Siebert pours a Coconut Brown. Alessandro Marazzi Sassoon

Cosy, casual cooking and craft beer at Seabird’s Place

The understated appearance of Seabird’s Place – a cosy bar-restaurant that has taken shape over several months on a quiet Tuol Tom Poung side street – belies the quality that the husband-wife team who run it have put into the venue. Owner Brendan Siebert, 32, first came to the Kingdom as part of Engineers Without Borders Australia in 2011 as an electrical and telecommunications engineer. His longstanding passion, though, has been brewing beer. “I’ve been brewing for a long time, since my grandpa gave me a homebrew kit when I was 14,” he says. As many ex-pats are when they first arrive in Cambodia, he was dismayed at the beer prospects in the Kingdom. With a friend from back home in Adelaide, and an American he met in Phnom Penh, he had the idea to open a brewery. It was also at that time in 2011 that he met his future wife, Kim Sochea, 27, whom he married this past March. With beer on the brain, Siebert and his partners decided to part ways several years ago to do research into brewing and to save up money before coming back to start production. Siebert went to Colorado, a haven for microbrewers. A family connection to the American Brewer’s Association opened the door for networking with brewers to get advice on recipes, equipment and running the business, Siebert explains. Upon returning to Cambodia in 2015, the trio set to work on establishing the Riel Brewery. Operating in Cambodia presented its own engineering challenges, requiring specific temperature controls to work around the climate conditions, but finally in December 2015 Riel began production, and has steadily expanded since. At Seabird’s, the three beers the India Pale Ale, the Coconut Brown Ale and the Grapefruit Pale Ale – are on tap for $3 a glass. Siebert’s favourite is, naturally, the IPA. “It’s got the most amount of hops, it’s the most bitter, and the strongest alcohol content – it’s a beer lover’s beer,” he says. “The grapefruit is the most palatable to a casual beer drinker.” The Coconut Brown, meanwhile, is surprisingly light and has the lowest alcohol content, making it “tailored” to Cambodia. In the coming weeks at Seabird’s, Siebert and Sochea plan to host open-mic comedy and music nights, in addition to their usual Saturday Australian Football League programming. While Siebert is the mind behind the beer, Sochea brought her several years of working in the kitchens of fancier restaurants in Boeung Keng Kang I to designing the menu at Seabird’s, which offers everything from tasty pub snacks like chips and burgers ($4-$5.50) to pizza, some Asian dishes, or for those with an appetite the house specials ($9.75): a crispy salmon filet cooked with tomatoes, dill and olive oil, served with a side of ravioli, or the grilled Australian rib eye steak. It’s simple, and to vouch for the quality of the food it’s worth noting that Sochea and Siebert live above their restaurant and eat there too. So if you’re looking for a quiet after-work spot for “cheers, drinks and food” as Sochea notes Seabird’s might be your place. Seabird’s Place is located at #16 Street 410, and is open from 11am-2pm and 4pm-11pm every day. Tel. 017 335 066

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