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Circus teams with Sojourn resort to open big-top café

The Phare Café team with Victor Everaere from Phare Circus. LUIS BARRETO
The Phare Café team with Victor Everaere from Phare Circus. LUIS BARRETO

Circus teams with Sojourn resort to open big-top café

Since its opening in Siem Reap six months ago, Phare, the Cambodian Circus has been warmly received as a welcome addition to Siem Reap’s evening entertainment options.

Spectacular performances have consistently drawn crowds keen to be wowed, and the addition of a big-top tent in May ensured the show goes on whatever the weather.

Yet despite this veritable success, the Phare team always felt there was something missing.

“A café was certainly something which was lacking for us,” says Victor Everaere, assistant operations manager. “We knew that having a meal or glass of wine before or after the show is an important part of a nice evening, but we had no experience building or running a restaurant.”

Deciding the best option would be to search for a partner with more hospitality know-how, co-director Huot Dara approached the team responsible for the fabulous food at Sojourn Boutique Villas.

The café’s banana blossom and chicken salad, with beef and black bean in the back ground. LUIS BARRETO
The café’s banana blossom and chicken salad, with beef and black bean in the back ground. LUIS BARRETO

Dean McLachlan of Sojourn says his team always really liked the idea of what Phare does. “The circus is such a positive thing, and we were always keen to support it. Plus we already have a great catering team, so it just made sense,” he adds.

In just ten days the Sojourn team designed and erected a chic little open-air bar and restaurant which, McLachlan rightly points out, displays more than a touch of the resort’s sophisticated style.

The team also worked hard to create a relaxed outdoor dining area, with faultlessly laid tables set against a backdrop of flickering fire torches and newly planted banana trees.

The Phare Café has a selection of drinks, as well as an à la carte menu full of food both fast and flavourful.

“We designed the menu so everything is quick,” says McLachlan. “All of the dishes take just five minutes to freshly prepare, so even if people turn up 15 minutes before the show they still have time to grab a snack and a glass of wine.”

Particularly popular so far are the satay chicken skewers and lemongrass beef kebabs, both of which are served in a banana leaf basket handy for holding while watching a performance.

For those who prefer something a little more formal, Phare Café also features a pre-order only Khmer set menu of Cambodian favourites such as mango salad, fish amok, and a sticky-sweet caramelised banana dessert.

McLachlan has already received positive feedback. “So far, so good,” he says. “It’s early days so we’re still seeing what people like, but we’re already working on plans to offer more options for people just coming for food, including special deals for expats. Watch this space.”

Everaere adds, “We are so pleased that we can now offer the complete experience of ‘A Night at the Circus,’ and believe this is a great addition to the already vibrant arts and culture scene in Siem Reap.”

The Phare Café is next to the Phare Circus big top tent. It is open every day from 6.30pm, and welcomes both circus-goers and those without tickets to a show.

Sarah Brown

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