Many of the Phnom Penh venues frequented by a large number of expats have a tendency to multitask. Cafes come complete with a small craft boutique, restaurants have their own art gallery. The exemplar par excellence of this trend is The 240. Upstairs, it is a boutique hotel, downstairs there is a shop specialising in organic and ecologically friendly food and cleaning products, this blends seamlessly into a café area, ambling gently out into the bijoux, leafy, courtyard. Enter the other door leading from the courtyard and you are in a gallery which regularly showcases local artistic talent.
The venue is open from 9am to 9pm daily, but the café is ideally suited for a lunchtime visit, with a varied range of wraps and sandwiches ($5.50 each), salads ($5.50 each) and soups ($4.50 each).
The venue is a mix of earthy tones, all greens, whites and browns, and each table comes complete with its own mini field of wheatgrass in the centre, lest we forget that the emphasis here is placed on the natural, earthy and organic
We start with smoothies ($3.50) which, in keeping with the environmentally friendly theme, arrive in plastic and rubber take-away-style cups proudly bearing the slogan ‘I am not a paper cup.’.
The Tropical Enzyme Delight has a creamy, milkshake consistency, with the luxuriant taste of vanilla playing against a gentle zest of freshly grated orange. It also contains bee pollen, although what this added to the overall effect I’m afraid I can’t pinpoint.
The Lime Mint Smoothie had a more slushie-like consistency and was like a gentle, tropical breeze of refreshment for your tastebuds.
The Lentil and Wild Rice Salad was hearty and filling, with plenty of earthy flavours and fibre-rich goodness, with the pine nuts and Naturae’s signature dressing giving the dish a little extra zip.
Tartus was a Mexican inspired sandwich on crusty bread, with a hearty mix of black beans, tomatoes and juicy bell peppers. Unfortunately the dish was a little overwhelmed by the cream and mozzarella, making it a touch too heavy on the dairy to be described as a healthy lunch option.
The Chicken Wrap was made pleasantly moist and succulent by the mix of pesto and tomato tapenade, whilst the lightly toasted homemade wrap added a pleasant crunchiness to the dish.
Both wrap and sandwiches were served with a fresh mixed-leaf salad with a pleasingly zesty balsamic dressing.
My postprandial cappuccino came complete with a small, dark chocolate wrap, warm and satisfyingly gooey, which was a pleasing, unexpected extra.
Overall, it is a relaxed and pleasant environment where one can do a little shopping, grab a light lunch and fit in a little culture all in one fell swoop.
Naturae @ The 240 is, rather unsurprisingly, located on street 240.