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Our Pick: Cheese & Wine Heaven at Sofitel

Our Pick

Our Pick: Cheese & Wine Heaven at Sofitel

Our Pick: Cheese & Wine Heaven at Sofitel

We check out the devastatingly delicious buffet at the Sofitel Phokeethra Hotel.

អាន​ជា​ភាសា​ខ្មែរ >>

For a small city, Phnom Penh offers up a surprisingly eclectic selection of cuisines. From Iraqi to Indonesian to Jamaican to Russian, you can find pretty much any flavour you like if you look hard enough.

But cheese? Mon dieu! You really, really have to search for decent cheese. Not to mention wine. Unless you’re happy with a warm bottle of Jacob’s Creek chardonnay that’s three times the price it is in a London supermarket, you’re largely out of luck. Despite the city’s historic French connection, only a handful of places in the city know how to deliver the ultimate hedonism power couple of great cheese and delicious wine, and if you do find it, it doesn’t come cheap. If you’re willing to stump the price tag, the most spectacular of these is the Sofitel Phokeethra’s La Coupole.

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If you haven’t had the pleasure, the Sofitel is an imposing five-star hotel that smells like Chanel and makes you sit up straighter automatically, while the main restaurant, La Coupole, is modelled on the eponymous art deco restaurant in Paris. Thankfully, it lacks the Parisian snootiness of its namesake; chefs and waiters are more than happy to talk you through the menu, and on our visit, the (French) head chef gave us an enthusiastic tour of his favourite, lovingly crafted, dishes on the buffet.

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These include individual portions of spaghetti carbonara made fresh for you inside a hollowed parmesan cheese and cooked to creamy perfection, as well as Swiss raclette, melted the traditional way over a revolving grill and spooned over hot slices of potato.

sofitel making carbonara

There’s also Fondue Savoyarde, and a grill station for burgers and oysters, topped with carefully paired cheeses that you would never expect to work together, but are just perfect. Really. Oysters and cheese! Who’d have thought it? But we couldn’t get enough of them.

sofitel oysters

And then, of course, there’s a selection of top quality brie, camembert, Gruyère, gouda, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, chevre – the list goes on – with freshly baked breads, cold cut meats and all the condiments you might expect to find in a high-end cheese selection of this kind. What makes this buffet so special, though – what really elevates it above others found around the city – is the concept of using cheese in creative combinations and unique recipes you might never otherwise have tried. A celebration, rather than a selection, if you will (ahem).

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If you’re able to stop there, like some self-denying freak of nature, the cheese buffet will set you back $38. Expensive, perhaps, but also a remarkable deal for an unfettered feast on Europe’s most decadent concoctions, prepared by some of Phnom Penh’s finest chefs.

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Cheese just isn’t the same without wine, though, is it? So really, you’re looking at $60 per person – or an extra $22 for an unlimited supply of (truly sublime) wines. I don’t just mean that the white wine is cold and the red wine is not. This is the Sofitel, and to misquote Sideways, the wine selection is not just quaffable, it is transcendent.

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Oh, and if – like me – you have a sweet tooth, make sure you leave room for dessert. Or rather, desserts, because there are more delectable cakes and mousses and pastries and macarons and ice creams than you can shake a baguette at. The What’s On Phnom Penh team had to be rolled out of La Coupole like a couple of wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano, but if you can afford to splash on a little luxury, this is a dining experience that is worth every dollar… and every extra hour in the gym.

sofitel desserts

Cheese & Wine Buffet, Wednesdays from 6pm @ La Coupole, Sofitel Phokeethra, Sothearos Boulevard. $38pp for food only, $60pp including free-flow wine.

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