The much-frequented Bouchon Wine Bar re-opened its doors this month in the capital’s Daun Penh district, bringing new life to a renovated colonial villa.
A fixture of Phnom Penh’s after-work drinks scene for six years at its former location near Wat Botum Park, owner and Frenchman Cédric Gertgen says the decision to move the venue was prompted by the former landlord’s decision to sell. While the venue might be different, Bouchon’s loyal patrons can expect the hallmarks to stay the same.
“We pushed a little bit the food menu. There’s more dishes than before [but] it’s still the same positioning: French food, French wine,” Gertgen says. The new space, while virtually the same surface area, is airier and brighter. “It’s a little less night bar than before,” Gertgen explains.
Even the long, wooden U-shaped bar counter was moved from the old location to stay as the centrepiece of the new locale. Along with live music on Wednesday nights usually pop, jazz or blues and the $3 Martini special on Saturdays from 8pm-10pm, Gertgen held onto the cocktail menu, masterminded by manager Stanislas “Stan” Loubieres, and the founding concept of the wine bar: a rarified selection of only French wines which he stores in his 5,000-bottle wine cellar in the basement.
“We select our own wines and import our own wines from France,” he says, adding that “98 percent of what we have here is exclusive to this place, because we make sure that what we order from France is not already on the market”.
The 1920s villa, from which much of the original structural elements remain, including the tile flooring and lofty ceilings, comes with the addition of a balcony space and terrace with a small bar to service those wishing to enjoy their wine en plein air.
“When we are going to get to the nice season we will also do concerts downstairs, [and] on the balcony here would be a perfect stage for them as well,” Gertgen says, adding that while the full restaurant service will remain indoors, patrons seated outside can order small bites – such as the “eggplant caviar on toast” ($3.50) or tasty cheese and cream croquettes ($4.50) – from a newly expanded tapas menu.
What’s more, Gertgen has recruited the services of 33-year-old chef Bertrand Dardé to refine his quintessentially French menu from which Post Weekend sampled the southern French vegetarian classic ratatouille ($6), which consists of a comforting mix of tomato, zucchini, eggplant and onion cooked in tomato sauce, as well as the Coq Au Vin ($9), a succulent braised rooster leg stewed in red wine, from which the meat fell right off the bone. For those spending a long night at the office, the kitchen takes orders until 11pm.
Bouchon Wine Bar is located at #82 Street 174 and is open from 4pm-midnight Monday-Saturday during its soft open. When fully open, hours will be 11am-2pm and 4pm-midnight seven days a week. Tel: 077 881 103