Not everything in Siem Reap comes with a price tag of $5. That’s a good thing, while I love the range of cheap eats in town there’s a great case for investing a little more in dinner every now and again. Abacus comes highly recommended for its fresh take on French cookery with a hint of Khmer cuisine. So we decided that it might make for the perfect romantic meal location and went out to check it out.
Abacus in Siem Reap offers a lovely atmosphere to dine in. As you can see by Cambodian standards this place is very, very plush indeed.
Abacus have an extremely friendly meet and greet team. We’d made reservations but the place wasn’t quite busy enough to justify the advanced phone call though I suspect that would have been a different case if we’d have arrived on Valentine’s Day.
We chose to sit outdoors as it was reasonably cool but inside looked clean, well-presented and if the a/c works you might prefer it during the summer months.
I had the beef carpaccio to start and it came with an extremely generous amount of parmesan, that’s a good thing in my book – I love cheese. My companion had a crab and wasabi salad which was exquisitely presented and she devoured it like she hadn’t eaten for a week.
The main, for me, was a beef tenderloin in gravy with mushrooms, aubergine and mashed potato and for my partner a pork tenderloin in plum sauce with new potatoes, beetroot and asparagus. The beef was excellent (they even managed to get it almost blue) as was the gravy. The real winner was the pork though, the sauce was about the best thing I’ve tried in Siem Reap and my partner darn near inhaled her meal.
We rounded off with dessert for a change and I opted for the crème brulee and she for the pistachio mousse with lemon sorbet. Only a minor niggle here and there was too much sugar on an extremely shallow crème brulee. My dining partner on the other hand couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about her choice.
Abacus is just as lovely outside as it is inside.
Service was a lot sketchy following the meet and greet. This was particularly true when trying to order dessert when the servers had disappeared.
The menu is presented on a blackboard and it feels a little lazy as it’s essentially the same menu on the website but with a couple of specials. It would be easier (particularly for ESL speakers) if they could present this on a card instead – it makes you feel a little pressured to make a decision on your food as well.
The house wine was also distinctly unimpressive but at least it wasn’t ridiculously expensive.
The food at Abacus is first rate and so it should be – the total bill for 2 including 2 glasses of house red was $70. That’s about three times what you’d pay anywhere else in town. The look and feel is also extremely nice. The real niggle was the service, for this kind of money you could eat in any of the town’s five star hotels and you’d expect much, much better service there. I’d definitely go back, it was a fabulous dining experience but I don’t think it will be a regular occasion not because it’s expensive but because I’d prefer not to have to ask for a dessert menu five times (or even once for that matter).