As you walk into Comptoir Libanais one word springs to mind: extra. Like that one flatmate who desperately wants to tell you about their ‘crazy’ night at Unit 1, Comptoir Libanais is practically screaming for your attention. The wildly patterned décor is coloured in an array of greens, blues and reds, while hanging from the ceiling are dazzling lightbulbs, each with a different lampshade. The walls are filled with bags, teapots and food that are also for sale, adding to this fabulously unique interior. Luckily, I loved how extravagant the restaurant was, and took a moment to enjoy the blast of energy you felt as you entered the doors.
Comptoir Libanais is the creation of Tony Kitous, on the restaurant’s website he states: “It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s food that’s affordable and easy to know – healthy, light and you can enjoy it every day of the week. Comptoir Libanais means ‘Lebanese counter’ and that’s exactly what it is: somewhere you can eat casually, with no fuss. You don’t have to sacrifice comfort, style or authenticity of food just because the dining is casual.” The restaurant launched in London in 2008, and in 2015 they opened their first branch out of the capital, in Manchester.
Comptoir Libanais’ aim is to share real, wholesome and healthy Lebanese food with the people of the Western World. The menu perfectly embodies this notion and is jam-packed with Lebanese classics including an array of hot and cold mezze, flavoursome wraps, lamb and chicken koftas, Shish Taouks, fattets and man’oushas; there are vegetarian and vegan options available too. There is definitely enough to make you incredibly indecisive over what to order because everything sounds appealing.
The staff were very friendly, they swiftly sat us at our table and offered some complimentary olives as we contemplated over our order. We were then told about the fantastic deal they had on offer: if you order two main meals, you will also get a free bottle of house wine. It is a brilliant deal because you don’t have to order anything more than you normally would. It’s perfect for date night or some snazzy drinks before an evening out.
Though the mezze sounded tasty, this previously mentioned offer was too good to refuse, so we opted to go straight to the main meal. After much deliberation, I ordered the Lebanese Lamb & Halloumi Burger. The Chargrilled kofta burger was juicy and pink in the middle, while the spicy tahini harissa sauce complimented it beautifully. The burger was served with spiced batata harra, which is essentially roast potatoes and spicy tomato salsa; I have to say, being perfectly spiced and crisp, they were the best roast potatoes I have had since leaving my Mum’s at home.
After a delicious main, we decided we couldn’t leave without having dessert, so we found ourselves ordering a mango and vanilla cheesecake. Now, I’m the type of person who salivates merely at the word ‘cheesecake’ so I may be not be the most impartial judge, but this cheesecake was delightful. The velvety vanilla perfectly balanced out the sharpness of the mango jelly topping, while the crunchy base and edible flowers added some nice texture. I wasn’t even hungry by the time we reached dessert, and by that last spoonful I had reached the point where my belt uncomfortably dug into my body rolls, but it was so worth it.
Overall, Comptoir Libanais is a swanky place with some amazing food to match. Even though the food is available via Deliveroo, you need to visit this vibrant restaurant for yourself. When you are looking for a slighter fancier evening meal than your regular Iceland nuggets and chips, I cannot recommend Comptoir Libanais enough.
– Tara Jennett