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"Short stories and travel reports from my life adventures around the globe".

Travel Report: Georges Restaurant and Distillery, Siem Reap.

Georges Restaurant and Distillery Siem Reap Cambodia.

April 2020. It was a characteristically sweltering late afternoon in Siem Reap as Sladja and I made our way through the large entrance gates of Georges Restaurant and Distillery. Rays of sunshine slanted through the jungle garden in all directions as a pair of smiling Khmer ladies came out to greet us.

“Hellooo!” they sang in unison, smartly dressed in their black Georges t-shirts. Already I had a warm feeling, the same impression I’d gotten from Sebastien during our online chats. “Hi, I’m Leighton. Is Tom Cruise around?”

Complimentary shot of coconut rum George Restaurant and Distillery Siem Reap

George Restaurant and Distillery, Siem Reap.

One of the girls hurried off to find Mr. Cruise, while the other led us to the garden’s very cool tropical island style beach bar. In fact, just the kind of bar Tom Cruise strutted his stuff in for the movie Cocktail back in 1988!

Our remaining hostess wasted no time in bringing us two shots of coconut rum. Her name, we learned, is Srey Nich and she’s been with the Georges family for just over a year. “Mmm, down the hatch!” This was our first taste of their famous rum and damn it was good!

Georges Restaurant and Distillery, Siem Reap.

Houen Jane AKA Tom Cruise George Restaurant.

Tom Cruise, Georges Restaurant and Distillery.

Cambodia’s very own Tom Cruise exuded a genuine warmth from the moment we met him and made our introductions. “Welcome to Georges” he said, with a smile. Relaxed, considered and softly spoken, Tom explained how, as Operations Manager, he would be our guide for the evening. And moreover, that he was going to give us “the full Georges experience”.

But wait (!). Before we began, there was a pressing question and I just had to get it off my chest. “How did you come to be called Tom Cruise?” I asked, trying to conceal my smirk.

Cocktail Tom Cruise 1988.

“You want some rum?”

“Well, I love that movie Cocktail! I really identify with Tom’s character, Brian. How he has all those interviews and gets rejected by everyone. He goes back to school, betters himself, follows his dreams, stops at nothing to succeed. I feel like it’s the same as my life”. This, along with his dedication and skill in mixing cocktails, led to the nickname.

“I gave him the name” laughed Sebastien. “Once we finished the roof on the bar, I thought that’s it, he’s Tom Cruise!”

Inside Georges Restaurant and Distillery Siem Reap

George Restaurant and Distillery.

Georges is a French-Asian bistro and rum distillery located in the Salakamreuk neighbourhood of Siem Reap. Inside, Tom reaffirmed the key parts of the story I’d been researching. That Georges Fevrier opened the restaurant in 2013 at a time when Cambodia “felt like the far west, the last frontier where you could start with nothing and maybe strike gold”. 

The Fevrier family hails from Réunion, a French island situated between Madagascar and Mauritius. The idea was to offer beloved family recipes, along with their cherished, home-brewed rum. Soon after opening, Papa Fevrier handed the reigns over to his son Sebastien. 

“We make rum in a very artisanal way. It’s really satisfying when people come here mainly for the rum!”

Seabstien Fevrier Georges Restaurant and Distillery Siem Reap.

Sebastien Fevrier, Georges Restaurant and Distillery.

It was Sebastien who approached me about doing an article. And boy oh boy did his passion for Georges come literally bursting out of my computer screen. Picking up what his father had started, he channelled all his energies into making Georges the best it could possibly be.

However, Sebastien has certainly experienced more than his fair share of challenges, “just about everything you could imagine”. In Siem Reap, he says, everything evolves rapidly and the market is forever changing. “If you relax, you’re dead without even knowing it”. 

“Dad still comes back from time to time, so we can bicker about the dishes”. 

Father and son Georges Restaurant and Distillery Siem Reap

Father and son, Georges Restaurant and Distillery.

Georges Restaurant and Distillery, Siem Reap.

As challenges go, the unwelcome arrival of Coronavirus is quite a biggie. Thus Sebastien and the extended Georges family find themselves pouring their hearts and souls into keeping the place afloat during these turbulent times. “It’s been devastating” he admitted. “We can only do our best to survive and hope for a change of circumstance”.

Georges Distillery and Showroom Siem Reap.

The Rum Experience at George Restaurant and Distillery.

From the restaurant interior, Tom Cruise led us back through the garden and into the Distillery & Showroom. In addition to dinner and drinks, visitors can also immerse themselves in the Georges Rum Experience! It was Tom himself who talked us through the complex rum making process.

The rum experience Georges Distillery Siem Reap.

The rum experience!

Georges Restaurant and Distillery, Siem Reap.

With a presentation that was educational, fun and interactive, we learned about the history of rum and how the team makes their flavours using local, organic sugarcane. You can take a look at the sugarcane juice extractor and hear about the fermentation, distillation and maturation processes. It’s even possible to make your own rum! What they won’t tell you however, is their all-important secret ingredient. In fact, Tom was keen to point out that only Sebastien knows… and he ain’t telling.

Georges Rum Distillery Siem Reap.

Georges Restaurant and Distillery.

Committed to protecting the environment, Georges is also a strong advocator of eco-friendly packaging for all their products. Thus you won’t be seeing any plastic here!

The Rum Platter!

Rum platter Georges Restaurant Siem Reap.

Georges’ 12 Shot Rum Platter!

Back in the restaurant, it was time for us to peruse the menus and decide on what to have for dinner. In the meantime, Srey Nich reappeared with a complimentary rum platter of 12 Georges flavours!

They come on a beautifully presented board that features a guide map so you know what’s what. My favourites were the Coffee (naturally), Caramel and Cinnamon. Sladja loved the Kaffir Lime, Tamarind and French Fusion.

Georges Restaurant and Distillery, Siem Reap.

Rum tasting Georges Restaurant Siem Reap.

Rum tasting at Georges.

Currently, customers can choose between either the rum platter or two glasses of your favourite rum flavours, free with every meal! It’s a special Georges promotion during the crisis, which Sebastien calls “support rum for all!”

Georges Craft Rum Siem Reap.

“Yo, ho, ho and a bottle of rum!”

This side of the business really comes from the heart, as they say. According to Sebastien, they lose money on the rum, but he couldn’t even consider continuing Georges without it. “To make money, we should sell it at rate of about 25% higher than we do”. 

The Cocktails!

Cocktails at Georges Restaurant Siem Reap.

Cocktail time at George Restaurant and Distillery.

Despite having plenty of rum, Tom Cruise wasn’t going to let us leave Georges without sampling a pair of his best cocktails. These things were really something else! Sladja had the Coco Kiss, a tantalising concoction of coconut rum, fresh watermelon juice and milk. I opted for the S’vayk’chey, with mango rum, mango and lime juice, milk and mint syrup. It was phenomenal, like an After Eight drink!

The Starters!

Jam and cheese baguette with goat cheese bruschetta Georges Restaurant Siem Reap

Our starters at George Restaurant.

Our food that night was simply fantastic! We started with a couple of appetisers. Firstly, a plate of French baguette slices with Reblochon melted cheese. They come with three little pots of homemade jam.

Then we swiftly set to work on the Goat Cheese Bruschetta. It was tough choosing from the many appetizer options, including The Smoked Duck Salad, Sebastien’s top pick.

The Mains!

Craft sausages with mash and bacon Georges Restaurant Siem Reap

Homemade sausages. Georges style!

For our mains, we just had to get meaty! The Homemade Craft Sausages with Endless Bacon were outstanding, served with the creamiest of creamy mash and a crisp salad.

Dory fillet with tomatoes and spices Georges Restaurant Siem Reap.

Dory Fillet with tomatoes and imported spices!

We also went for the Pacific Dory Fillet, served with tomatoes, rice, Kaffir lime and mixed spices. Again, it was great, especially the melt-in-your-mouth fish.

The Dessert!

Caramel Samosas Georges Restaurant Siem Reap.

Dessert at Georges Restaurant.

You know, we really didn’t need dessert. But then I spotted the words Caramel Samosas and I realised just how simply Sladja and I had been eating these past weeks in self isolation. The coconut-pineapple samosas were every bit as good as they look. As was the caramel sauce they came drenched in and the accompanying ricotta ice cream. As with all the dishes that evening, our verdict was a resounding ten out of ten!

The Electric Daisy!

The Electric Daisy Georges Restaurant Siem Reap.

A novel end to an amazing evening at Georges.

On an evening full of lovely little touches, at the end of the meal there was one last surprise. The Electric Daisy is a fascinating little plant that took Sebastien over three years to grow in Cambodia. Take a shot of rum, treat yourself to a nibble of the daisy and enjoy the electric tingles zooming around your mouth!

Feeling a little daring? Georges also has a dish featuring the daisy called Romazava. It’s a kind of stew made with beef, greens, tomatoes and onions. Damn, next time!

Georges Restaurant and Distillery, Siem Reap.

The bar at George Restaurant and Distillery Siem Reap

Evening drinks at Georges.

I cannot overstate what a brilliant evening we had at Georges. This is fine dining at a price that won’t break your wallet, served by some of the loveliest people we’ve met in Siem Reap! We will continue to support them in their battle for survival! Not convinced by the incredible food and the inventive rum? Then maybe just swing by and say hi to Cheese the cat!

Lazy cat Georges Restaurant Siem Reap.

“Come to Georges, don’t come to Georges. Either way, I’m staying right here”.

Want to visit George Restaurant and Distillery? Check out their cool website. 

For more on Siem Reap’s excellent cafe, restaurant and bar scene, check out my detailed guide on Where to Eat and Drink Siem Reap.

You can also read my exhaustive overview of What to See and Do in Siem Reap.

Looking for a roof over your head? Check out my articles on Where to Stay in Siem Reap.

I’ve been living, working and traveling all over the world since 2001. So why not check out my huge library of travel reports from over 30 countries.

Leighton Travels logo travel reports and short stories.

13 Comments

  • Team Leisure

    Fantastic. You two are living the dream there 🙂

    April 24, 2020 - 3:40 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      We are counting our blessings. Safe, healthy and in a pretty good environment. Really hoping these local businesses can get through this turbulent period.

      April 24, 2020 - 3:42 pm Reply
  • Eromonsele Emmanuel

    This restaurant is clean, cosy, green and has a fun backstory. I can imagine everyone asking why he’s called Tom Cruise. And its such a great conversation starter.
    Hint Tom to make some posters of himself jumping off planes and performing car stunts. He could place them around Georges restaurant and add a better hit to the name.
    Thanks for sharing Leighton!

    April 24, 2020 - 6:11 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey man, thanks a lot for reading and commenting. Yes, maybe Cambodian Tom Cruise has a future in the movies! I will pass on your suggestions!

      April 24, 2020 - 6:29 pm Reply
  • Anya Abraham

    The place looks great! The story of how the name Tom Cruise came to be haha xD that was nice
    The dishes look absolutely heavenly

    April 24, 2020 - 6:14 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hey Anya, thanks for taking the time to read and comment! The food was amazing, this place really deserves to survive through the crisis.

      April 24, 2020 - 6:28 pm Reply
  • Virginia

    Wow , that food looks so yummy . 😋😋😋😋

    April 24, 2020 - 6:23 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Thanks for reading Virginia, it was outstanding!

      April 24, 2020 - 6:26 pm Reply
  • Memo

    Salivating more than usual. Thanks for the post.

    April 25, 2020 - 12:17 am Reply
    • Leighton

      Cheers Memo! I’ll be in touch soon.

      April 25, 2020 - 12:18 am Reply
  • Michelle

    George’s in Siem Reap is fantastic! I have taken groups there and the meals have been devine and service impeccable. The rum is pretty special too!
    Can’t recommend them highly enough.

    April 25, 2020 - 2:32 pm Reply
    • Leighton

      Hi Michelle, thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. Obviously, we totally agree! Are you still in Siem Reap?

      April 25, 2020 - 2:33 pm Reply
  • Graymand

    Wow. I wish I could visit as well!

    April 26, 2020 - 1:16 am Reply

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