In Phnom Penh, stylish boozing has become a byword for the ventures of Will and George Norbert-Munns, the 30-something Kiwi brothers behind Bar.Sito, Public House and Seibur.
Their fourth foray, Meat and Drink, comes two years after speakeasy-like Sito opened and, along with the sister venues that followed, revived the city’s upmarket eating and drinking scene. It’s equal in both style and substance.
The compact eatery, halfway along a tumbledown alley in Tonle Bassac, makes a grand impression with heavy timber tables, dark walls and a polished copper bar. There are light bulbs hanging from the ceiling and indie rock tunes playing on the stereo.
Large windows and orange Asiatic lilies keep the space airy and, with smoking banned, it’s a laid-back alternative to the glamorous but frequently tobacco-choked Sito. Tiny six-or-so-seater Seibur is less than 15 feet away – the Manhattans make for a superb aperitif before popping over to Meat and Drink for the main course.
The menu is short and sweet: wraps, salads and burgers from $6. Choose a style: Indian or Japanese chicken, beef or vegetarian, and how you want it served.
The clue’s in the name: it’s about the meat. King of the menu is the Aussie burger: a juicy beast generously packed with bacon, fried egg and salad. But there’s subtlety too: chutney and raisin are a rich and fruity complement to the soft meat. Chips were crispy and a tandoori chicken wrap light and spicy. The fish fillets also come recommended.
A vegetarian burger wasn’t the best item on the menu but the ingredients would work well in a salad. Despite the name, Meat and Drink does well with greens. Japanese chicken was happily buried in bowl of crunchy cabbage and carrot served with a wasabi sauce worthy of Tokyo.
Wash it down with an Asian Infusion from the cocktail list. Five bucks gets you a smooth gin-based drink, fresh lychee married with a ginger kick – drinks here are as potent as they are creative. Even Cambodia Beer is presented with elegance, in long tall glasses.
Bear in mind that, like its sisters, Meat and Drink is a small space with little privacy, not somewhere for a romantic tryst. The tables are close together and have a communal feel: sit outside and it could be summertime in an English beer garden.
Go with friends after work on a Monday when it doesn’t matter that the last call is a little early at 11 o’clock. Or early evening on a Saturday, when the low sun casts an orange glow over the streetside tables and the little alleyway is alive with activity. It’s a nice place to be.
Meat and Drink is located on the alleyway off Street 308, behind Seibur. Closed Mondays.