Harbouring a craving for good American grub, Marissa Carruthers and photographer Charles Fox head to Lone Pine Cafe.
“My dream was to serve the best burgers in Phnom Penh,” Lone Pine Cafe owner Will Brown says with a smile.
Luckily for us, Brown is well seasoned in this area, having created two successful burger joints back in his home city of New York.
“I wanted to pay homage to the archetype American roadside cafe, serving classic regional dishes with an emphasis on the American south,” Brown, who is the brains behind popular Tex-Mex restaurant, Taquira Corona, says. “As a frequent visitor to New Orleans, I wanted to bring some of my favourite dishes to Phnom Penh.”
The result is Lone Pine, which boasts a menu packed full of signature Stateside dishes that, alongside more than 25 burgers, takes in po boys, gumbos, salads and a variety of sandwiches.
The cobb salad ($7.75) was up first and consisted of a large bowl packed with lettuce, chives, onions, sliced boiled egg and tomatoes. Sitting on top were layers of well-cooked chicken strips and crunchy bacon, surrounded by melting, sour blue cheese.
After being informed that the po boys and gumbos are favourites, we thought it would be rude not to try them so ordered a cajun po boy and Mr B’s gumbo ya ya (both $6.75).
The gumbo was packed full of flavour. The thick, rich brown sauce was filled with a healthy portion of thin strips of succulent chicken, with the finely chopped green and red peppers adding a pleasant kick to the subtle nutty tang. Complementing the dish were two pieces of garlic bread and soft ‘dirty’ rice.
The cajun grilled shrimp po boy accompanied with thin fries was another feast for both the eyes and the stomach. Served in an open, soft baguette, plump prawns dripping in spicy remoulade sauce pack one half, while lashings of shredded cabbage add a welcome crunch into the mix on the other.
We had to get our mouths around one of the famous burgers, which was a feat within itself. The Babe’s ($9) was a towering 7oz burger served inside a soft sesame seed bun, topped with a layer of melted cheese, three generously-sized onion rings and a layer of crispy bacon coated in ranch sauce.
The layers of flavour really shine through with the hit of chilli followed by the taste of the juicy, succulent burger, the crispy bacon and onion rings, another spicy smack of chilli and then the cheese – definitely one of the best burgers I’ve tasted in the capital.
We couldn’t leave without tucking into the Memphis hunk ribs ($8.50). Trading in the usual spareribs for a loin of pork, the result is a fist-sized hunk of fork-tender meat smothered in sweet barbecue sauce. Pulling of the bone with the touch of a fork, the meat is delicately flavoured, with a subtle backbite of spice, soothed with home-made coleslaw.
Stuffed and satisfied, we left with our craving for Stateside dining well and truly appeased.