Brasserie du Port – A rich, buttery taste of the South of France
For a long time, the area around the Night Market was like a frontier country for the average ex-pat, A border land beyond which lay uncharted territory and signs which read ‘Here Be Monsters…And No Nice Restaurants!’.
This barrier was broken by Chinese House, a lone beacon of culinary promise on the way to the Japanese Friendship Bridge. This has just been joined by Brasserie du Port. As befits the typical image of a brasserie, the owner Jean-Pierre is a genial, middle aged, French gourmand, but the deco has not a hint of rural France about it. Indeed, with its tropical foliage, flagstones and glass surround, it brings to mind the conservatory café in a botanical gardens.
This effect is supported by the walls, which have an appearance somewhere between a rammed earth mottle and a velvet sheen. The whole effect is warm and inviting. This is Jean-Pierre’s fourth venture in Phnom Penh, preceded by L’empree Vue, Le Cyclo and Le Sako, and it aims to provide quality French cooking at an affordable price. With a Formule Brasserie providing a three course meal for less than $10, it is an ideal venue for business lunches.
For starters we enjoy Poivrons Grillés à la Provençale and Assiette de coquillages farcis. The Poivrons Grillés have the juicy, fruity softness of capsicum counterpointed by the salty tang of anchovies, perhaps a little oily for some palettes, but a refreshing start.
The Assiette de coquillages is a delight; the wonderful saline tang of fresh seafood combined with just enough butteriness to envelope the mouth with a lasting savour. The starters are both beautifully well presented, and whilst the portions are not niggardly, neither are they overlarge.
For mains, we sample an Onglet à l'échalote au beurre maître d'hôtel and and a freash Mekong river fish with Aoili Provençale.
The Onglet à l'échalote is a healthy portion of steak, buttery and full bodied in taste, although the locally sourced meat is perhaps a little stringier than you would expect to be served in France. The beef is complemented well by a sharp, French mustard.
Thefresh, Mekong fish is soft and delicately flavoured complemented by a trio of garlicky mashed potatoes, each with a subtly different flavour.
For dessert we had Tarte Tatin and Crème caramel.
The crumbly texture of the Tarte Tatin, combined with gentle, almost floral apple slices and softened by a rich, creamy vanilla ice-cream is pleasing to the palette.
The Crème Caramel has a springy texture and a thick,custardy taste, with that sugary rush of caramel providing a little zing to the dish.
The bar is also generously stocked with a range of good European wines, some fine French brandies and, to my great delight, a variety of Scottish single malt whiskies.
For those not partial to the French triumvirate of garlic, butter and salty tastes, this is not the place for you. But for those seeking good quality French cuisine, made with fresh, local ingredients at a price that won’t burn a hole in your wallet, this would be a good venue to check out.
Brasserie du Port is located at 45 Sisowath Quay, next door to Chinese House
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