Olive Cuisine de Saison in Siem Reap has been open for nearly a year, but it’s taken me this long to review it. Can I pretend that’s because I wanted to see if the good quality of their French and Mediterranean fare held up for this long? Well, it has.
Olive Cuisine de Saison, or Olive, as the regulars call it, is a fine dining restaurant tucked away around the corner of the Angkor Trade Center. It’s just a short walk from Pub Street, but feels a world away with its serene atmosphere, white tablecloths bedecked with fresh flowers, and decidedly adult clientele. It’s quickly become an expat favorite in town, even if few tourists have discovered it yet.
Olive bills itself as French fine dining, but the menu is just as much Mediterranean as it is French. I usually avoid French restaurants because the menu is so often filled with hunks of meat and very little in the way of vegetables (sorry, French friends, it’s just not my thing). Olive has these sort of dishes, of course, but an entire pasta section as well as a smattering of upscale Khmer dishes. The menu is seasonal, with lots of seafood and fish, and every dish is plated beautifully.
I’m a fan of the seafood pasta with a creamy crab bisque and tomato sauce, topped with a surprisingly large portion of fish and seafood for the price ($13). The grilled vegetable pasta with a rich, creamed pesto was also quite good, and at $6.50, made for an expensive, delicious lunch.
I’ll admit that I’ve stuck to the pasta and starters at Olive but my dining companions have been more adventurous and tried the Cornish game hen (excellent) and Khmer seafood with Kampot pepper (less impressive). One regular recommends the baked grouper “it’s insane,” the lamb shank and the tenderloin rossini. The desserts are also very good, as is the wine list.
The restaurant is housed in a fully restored colonial building, with exposed brick walls, hung with large, colorful paintings of the ingredients that make up its menu: a beef shank, garlic, olives, peppers. Despite Olive’s fine dining atmosphere, the menu is reasonably priced and gives local standards like Abacus a run for their money. If you haven’t tried it yet, head to Olive for a lovely lunch or dinner in Siem Reap.