How can I help you?” said a sweet, beautiful waitress as we entered the bar, returning with a menu seconds later.
“Margarita; Tequila, Lime juice, and Triple sec,” said my friend after gazing at the menu items.
“Seasonal fruit shake for me please!”
Whether you prefer a bit of booze in your drink or not, the revamped Bougainvillier bar and lounge located on Sisowath Quay near the royal palace is, despite its French name, a nice place to kick back after school or work in authentic Khmer style.
Two wooden busts of Jayavaraman VII provide a warm welcome to the roomy lounge with dark, wooden walls and Apsara sculptures in every corner of the room. Several tables, surrounded by Khmer-style chairs, awash in soft blue, yellow, white and red lights, await customers who will surely enjoy a beautiful evening listening to soft French music and sipping on cocktails, if that’s what you like.
“Ew!” my friend shrieked as he tasted his margarita, tastefully garnished with a slice of lime. “Aww, so hot!” he said, clearly unused to alcohol, as his face turned red and he covered his mouth like a little girl. I couldn’t help but laugh.
My seasonal fruit was equally attractive with a purple orchid and, unlike the margarita , it was as good as it looked, tasting juicy and sweet like watermelon should.
Now to the food. My friend ordered three-cheese pizza while I just got French fries. While waiting for our eats, I quickly grabbed my friend’s laptop and loged on to my Facebook page to check out the internet speed. It was pretty fast indeed.
We had some peanuts while my friend tried to finish his drink. It might seem a bit crazy to try to finish a drink that you can’t stand, but, since it was happy hour, and we would get a free drink after finishing the first one, he would have been crazy not to take it down.
We agreed to each order a milky way – a mix of milk, grenadine, and lime juice – for our second drink, my friend playing it safe with a non-alcoholic option this time.
The pizza came and it smelled yummy. “Ah, yum!” was my friends reaction. A fine choice indeed, despite the sparse presentation that made the pizza look like an island lost in the middle of the huge white plate.
As soon as the French fries were placed in front of me, the delicious smell had me digging in and the crunchy and slightly sweet slices of potato were very satisfying.
The pink milky way shakes arrived soon after and the sweet milk mixed with the aromatic lemon flavor was quite tasty. We agreed that I did a better job of ordering, since I avoided drinks that made me gag, but as our meal went on my fries began to get colder and more oily so perhaps it was a wash.
We had been at Bougainvillier for a while and as the evening set in, I realised we were two of only four guests, the other two being forty-something foreigners. We felt a bit strange being two young Cambodians in a Western bar, so we left out last drink unfinished and took off.
The tab was $12.50 in the end, which is more expensive than we would normally pay, but it was a great place for people looking for a romantic atmosphere and Western fare. If you are looking for a cool teenage environment, this may not be the place for you. As my friend and I walked out, the security guards looking after our bikes stared at us as if we were strange. We looked at each other, started laughing and sped off.