I’m going to preface this review by saying that I’m not particularly interested in eating vegan, “paleo,” gluten-free, or raw foods. I’m more interested in fat, meat, and carbs (which is probably readily apparent). But when I heard that ARTillery, the cafe that started the organics and health food craze in Phnom Penh was opening a branch in Siem Reap, I figured I should check it out.
ARTillery has three branches in Phnom Penh, and are known for their vegetarian selection, gluten-free choices, and raw desserts. They’ve spawned imitators in the Charming City, but until now, they’ve stayed clear of Siem Reap. But last month saw the soft opening of the cafe, and they’re fully up and running now. “What we hope to offer to the Siem Reap community is a wholesome menu inside the cafe, as well as the convenience of healthy products that you can takeaway,” Brittany Sims, the owner of the cafe, says. “We will have detox programs, grab and go, and a range of wholefood products along with fun events and gatherings to connect people who are passionate like we are about these topics.”
The menu’s top section says “Choose your lifestyle” and gives menu designations for those who follow vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, paleo, raw, and tree nut-free diets. Yes, there is a section for superfoods. There’s also a range of delicious smoothies and cold-pressed fruit and vegetable juices, served with environmentally friendly bamboo straws. Plus, ARTillery have 5-day juice and raw food cleanse programs for those in need of a Siem Reap detox…so just about every expat in town.
I went with a few people and we ended up trying several things, including a few that I probably wouldn’t have ordered if I were on my own. The raw pizza was made with a flax and almond crust with a sun-dried tomato sauce, greens, and nut “cheese.” It wasn’t anything like a “real” pizza, and was closer to a salad. It was nice and fresh, but if I had only ordered this for lunch I would have left hungry — I’m guessing it was probably around 300 calories, at most.
We also tried the macro bowl, with brown rice, roasted and pickled veg, and goddess dressing. Again, maybe not something I would have ordered, but it was very tasty and felt like a complete meal. My favorite was the falafel plate, probably because it was one of the few items on the menu with honest-to-goodness carbohydrates. It came with herbed falafel, hummus, babaganoush, salad, and pita bread. This was the only dish that we tried that made me resentful to be sharing; I wanted it all to myself.
They’ve got three desserts: sorbet, a raw cheesecake, and raw energy “bliss balls” made from raw cacao, goji berries, nuts, and seeds. The passion fruit topped cheesecake was pretty good — not as good as a New York cheesecake, but surprisingly nice for a raw, vegan dessert. The bliss balls were anything but, and tasted more like a treat I would have fed my parakeet. But I suppose that some people might like that sort of thing, so I’ll withhold judgement.
I thought it would make sense to talk to an actual healthy person about the menu, so I asked Brittany for her favorite dishes. “From the drinks menu, the almond buttercup smoothie is practically a breakfast ritual for me, and then the turmeric tonic is my go-to choice in the afternoon,” she says. “Favorite light lunch would have to be zucchini noodles with basil cashew pesto…but if I’m craving something a bit heartier, I always go for the macro bowl with extra avocado!”
ARTillery clearly fills a niche in the market in Siem Reap. Sister Srey and Hive may be frolicking in the surf, but ARTillery is swimming out past the breakers when it comes to juicing and catering to those with specific dietary needs. The open cafe space is light and airy, with local artwork on the walls and custom-made old-fashioned Khmer times. I have no doubt the cafe will be a success with both expats and visitors to Siem Reap.
It was only after we finished our lunch that I looked at the breakfast section of the menu, and saw an incongruously listed smoked salmon bagel, taunting me with it’s fatty, carby, cream cheesy goodness. Next time, ARTillery, next time.
Wat Bo Road, next to Maison 557, Siem Reap
T: 085 856 511