It is hardly surprising that newcomers may wonder how the original owner of a rather fetching Green Vespa managed to ‘park’ on the roof of this Riverside pub of the same name.
For those of us for whom the impact of this novel gimmick and eye-catching sign has worn off, there still remains an allure.
If you are one for statistics, the mere fact that the Green Vespa came a lofty 9th out of a significant 136 entries in a Best of British Pub competition might draw you in.
You need time to mull over the menus, which cover a lot of ground. And when I say menus, my use of the plural refers firstly to the drinks menu, which is often all but deified by many of my fellow Brits. It offers a melee of whiskies, wines, ales and cocktails to suit a spectrum of taste buds including Cambodians, who have been known to enjoy a celebratory whiskey.
The food selection could easily have been extracted from Britain’s fine country pubs with offerings of sausage, pork fillets, lamb shanks, and Sunday roasts. It makes no apologies for its overwhelmingly meat bias, but instead provides fish dishes and salads to keep our veggie and pescetarian cousins interested.
The pleasing irony of what looks to be a quality menu, capturing the connoisseurs as well as those seeking company and the comfort of western fodder, is that the chef is a Cambodian and has worked there for three years.
This chef manages to conjure up cottage and shepherds’ pies, alongside stodgy desserts. But it is easy to imagine that if you wanted a dose of loc lac, you would not be disappointed.
Sunday, we are told is the busiest day, where Australians, South Africans and Brits alike soothe their post Phnom Penh party brows with a roast, a burger and of course hair of the dog.
The Green Vespa can to a certain extent rest on its very well established laurels as its regulars would surely vouch. However it makes sure that its traditional style keeps pace with its younger, and perhaps hipper rivals by changing the “specials” daily and offering no-brainer promotions, that cover the conventionally flatter periods (for example a two for one offer Monday-Wednesday, 4pm-7pm).
So what we have is a solid core of menus, overlaid with ideas written on blackboards, swinging from the rafters (painted green of course).
The Green Vespa is also a wifi friendly zone, where you can bring your laptop and your children. It is nothing if not inclusive, providing a third menu exclusively for hungry offspring: something of a relief to parents who are used to losing half their lunches to their little beloveds.
This particular Saturday brunch, a gentle breeze blows the punters in gradually without much resistance. By midday, we are surrounded but not engulfed by the sounds of multi-cultural chatter.
The shamrock-colored walls are dressed with unpretentiously arty photography and paintings, televisions and fans. Propping up the other end of the bar is a telephone, something you would ordinarily find in an internet café. This is no gimmick or modern sculpture. You may not actually be able to park on the roof, but you can ring your friends and family around the world, run your business and feed your children here.
So, as we tuck into our brunches of Tasmanian scrambled eggs and salmon, and ploughmans, we acknowledge that The Green Vespa offers a traditional comfort full of character. It creates the feeling that you are at home in your front room (albeit with a very well equipped bar!) and provides a sensory haven to many expats, looking for a slice of Great Britain in an otherwise Asian pie, without the air fare!
Happily refueled, we make our way out into to the tropical sun with something of an understanding of why The Green Vespa continues to be a success.
The Green Vespa
95 Sisowath Quay