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Siem Reap’s most popular European restaurant revamps

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New York steaks and French cuckoo clocks can be found at Tell Steakhouse, the restaurant on Sivutha that has been wowing carnivores and lovers of hearty European fare, both Khmer and expats alike. Husband and wife team Olivier Adrian and Khiev Sophal took over the restaurant two years ago, and have ensured its continuing success.

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The clean and airy interior of Tell Restaurant. PHOTO MIRANDA GLASSER

Named after Swiss folk hero William Tell, the Swiss-German restaurant had already been going 11 years when Sophal and Olivier bought it from the original German owner, Thilo Krueger.

But the couple made some improvements, such as renovating the kitchen and reducing the menu, concentrating on good quality cuts of meat.

“There was a lot of sauerkraut, cheese raclette, fondue – big portions, heavy food,” Olivier says. “And a lot of food – 100 different items – so it was really difficult to maintain good quality.

“We studied what the customers liked and realised we sell mostly steaks so we added more steak: rib-eye, the Khmer steak, T-bone from the US and the strip loin. We changed it into a steakhouse.”

Steak – particularly beef tenderloin – is Tell’s speciality, with American, Australian and New Zealand cuts available, although the couple has retained some of the Swiss-German part of the menu. Vienna schnitzel, Swiss cervelat sausage and raclette are all still served, as well as a small pasta selection, the ‘Asian corner’ and even some salads.

The pair searched carefully for reputable meat suppliers, and the research has paid off with Tell’s steak garnering high praise – customers even declaring it as good as in the States or Australia.

“We have a lot of Khmer and Korean customers and when it’s not good, they tell us. You know about it,” laughs Olivier.  

The other big change is in the décor. The duo has decked out the place with charming ‘objets’ reminiscent of France and Switzerland, such as cuckoo clocks from Adrian’s grandmother’s house and alpine pictures of cows lazing on grassy hills. There is also a delightful mini puppet-show stage mounted on the wall complete with red curtains; the puppets are from Olivier’s home-town, Lyon, and he painted the Parisian street-scene backdrop himself.

Sophal and Olivier both have culinary backgrounds. Sophal trained at the Paul Dubrule hospitality school, while Olivier studied at catering school in Lyon, before working in restaurants and hotels in France and abroad.

The team attributes the restaurant’s success to its good quality meat, but also to the staff, who are encouraged to take an interest in the food and recipes. Sophal says she learnt a lot from her time working at the Victoria Angkor Resort and Spa in Siem Reap after graduating from Paul Dubrule.

“My chef was very strict, from France,” she says. “He always held short briefings every day where we learnt new things and corrected old things that we hadn’t done very well.

And we learnt at least one new thing every day. So here I also take the time to do briefings with the staff.”

Apart from running Tell, the busy pair has other ventures on the go: Sophal manages U-Care Pharmacy and Olivier is also the general manager of La Noria hotel.  

Tell Steakhouse is open from 9am to 10.30pm, seven days a week.

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