Still awaiting a life-size suit of armour and some decorative weapons, Phnom Penh’s first medieval-themed restaurant and pub had its grand opening last week.
Puzzles – a new addition to the burgeoning upmarket nightlife district between NagaWorld casino and Aeon Mall – is a cavernous place of brick walls, arched booths and faux antler lamps, with the largest selection of beers in the capital.
Owner Kim Bunsann, 28, got the idea for the theme watching the HBO show Game of Thrones and the History Channel’s Vikings (the name came from another television show, the sitcom How I Met Your Mother).
“I didn’t feel like there was anywhere I really liked in Phnom Penh with a good selection of beers,” Bunsann – whose family has a rice production and export empire – said this week over a pint. “Most places only have local beers and then maybe Heineken and Hoegarden.”
Set around a big square bar, Puzzles has booths on two sides where men in suits chat about business and a stage where musicians play live music every night from 6pm until 11pm, when a DJ takes over. There’s also a huge mural of the Angkorian queen Indradevi by graffiti artists Peap Tarr and Lisa Mam.
“She was around at a similar time to the medieval period,” said Bunsann of the cross-cultural fusion.
Despite ending a months-long soft opening period this weekend, Bunsann said there were still a few details to come.
“I’ve ordered a full suit of armour like a knight would wear from an antiques shop in Thailand,” he said, “along with some swords and shields for the walls.”
Unfortunately, the medieval theme stops at the decor and there’s no spit-roasted pig on the menu. Instead, the food is basic Western fare.
While the chefs do some proper meals – pasta, steak – the focus is on snacks, with highlights including the Cajun meat balls, lamb and beef kebabs and buffalo carpaccio.
However, it’s the range of beers served in half-litre glasses that truly sets Puzzles apart. There are 50 in total from all over the world, including some from Mexico and Scotland but mainly Germany and Belgium.
The taps are plentiful and connected to kegs: Bitburger and Kostritzer from Germany; Limburgs from Holland; and Brewdog Punk IPA from Scotland, among others. Plus there’s a huge selection of bottled beers, the most expensive of which is the Paix Dieu, a Belgian pale ale-style beer that’s 10 per cent alcohol and costs $7.75 a bottle.
“It’s usually the last beer of the night for most people,” Bunsann said of the Paix Dieu.
“It’s like a sleeping pill.” Puzzles Gastropub is located behind the Russian Embassy.
Tel: 017 778 829.