Delicate wines, high energy cabaret
Street 7, Old Market area, Siem Reap
T: (097) 850 4043
There has been no regular train service in Cambodia since at least 2009, and even when there was it didn’t go anywhere near Siem Reap. So how The Station Winebar got its name remains a bit of a mystery. One thing is for sure, though, whether you are on foot, bicycle, moto or tuk tuk, it’s a good place to alight and savour one of the many great and reasonably priced wines on offer, as well as some of the most fun — and free — entertainment you can enjoy in Siem Reap.
The Station is found behind a small and rather nondescript terrace with a blue and white striped awning on Street 7, which runs parallel to the nightlife hub that is Pub Street. But this understated shopfront belies a cool, welcoming air-con interior and somewhere that could easily become a regular haunt for any discerning oenophile in Siem Reap.
Tony, the amiable Australian owner, clearly knows his wines and has put together an impressive, and regularly updated, list from around the world, virtually guaranteeing something to suit every palate and most budgets. White wines by the glass start at just $3 for a refreshingly grassy French Colombard Ogni, or a reliable Australian Chardonnay. Reds are priced from $3.50 a glass for an Australian Shiraz or Merlot. Rose and sparkling wines are also available by the glass with Prosecco topping the list at $6.
Bottles on offer number around 100 and start at $15 for a classic Beaujolais, or a rather retro Mateus rose and $16 for a South African Chenin Blanc. If you are feeling flush, or flash, you can fork out the cash for the top priced Bordeaux at $73, an Australian Bortrytis Semillon at $69, or a decidedly decadent Taittinger for $89. And if you are feeling anti-social, there is a generous 15% discount on take-outs.
However, if you do stay in the softly lit, softly furnished and ever-so-slightly art deco bar, you can enjoy wines that are well kept and professionally served by uniformed staff. Refreshing menthol-scented cold towels are given to each customer on arrival and your first drink is usually accompanied by a serving of cheesy bread sticks or a small plate of cheese cubes and olives. It’s the little things…
If the idea of wine and snacks appeals, a new regular Tuesday night feature could be just the ticket — a single grape “wine flight” of three glasses from different countries accompanied by three tapas plates for a fixed price of $15. Starts at 19:00, limited numbers, booking essential.
The Station’s free entertainment — its renowned cabaret — can be seen from 21:30 every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. It is a good-natured and fun-filled melange of barely synchronised lip-synching to classic disco hits from impressively dragged-up Khmer artistes. This is complemented by a high energy, very serious — and talented — young male dance troupe, and the show usually winds up with some truly hilarious Cambodian slapstick.
It’s not the sort of show where you have to worry about sleazy performers draping themselves inappropriately about your person, but you will marvel at how they manage not to fall into your lap as they dance enthusiastically around the small, scarlet-coloured stage.
The Station Winebar proudly displays its rainbow flag of gay-friendliness at the entrance and attracts a very mixed crowd of tourists and expats, and a liberal sprinkling of young Khmer men who get very excited whenever a new performer comes on. What’s more, in addition to wine, you can also order spirits, cocktails, and soft drinks or good old-fashioned draft or bottled beer, if the delicate bouquet of a nice Riesling is not your thing. Open from 17:00 daily.
By Simon Hare
Last updated on 29th March, 2015.