Review: Comptoir Libanais’ Christmas Menu

Fozz: So Katrina, I need to thank you properly for our cute little date night the other day where we got to try the new Christmas menu at Comptoir Libanais! I really enjoyed myself, and the food was pretty good…

Katrina: The food was so good! I’ve never been to Comptoir Libanais so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. As we walked in, I got a really nice vibe from the place straight away and everyone was very friendly. But back to the all important food, what did you think of the menu variety?

Fozz: Oh my gosh I know – I’ve been a few times and the decor is one of the most beautiful in Exeter. And obviously there is limit to the variety as it’s a set menu, but it seemed to cover everyone pretty well. As you know I’m a vegetarian so I sometimes struggle with going to restaurants, but Comptoir is always a good option for non-meat eaters. Like the mezze selection that we started with was delicious – I think my favourite section was the Beetroot Labné (natural strained yoghurt with beetroot, tahina, garlic & virgin olive oil) as I pretty much love any dip with garlic in.

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Katrina: I think the mezze selection was a really great way to start the meal because it meant you got to try a variety of the great flavours that Comptoir created instead of having to restrict yourself to one dish. The Beetroot Labne was really good, but I was also a big fan of the Turkey Kibbeh. The cranberries and mint yoghurt sauce that came with the turkey made a beautiful flavour combination, and definitely gave a Christmas menu with a twist. I think having a mezze for a Christmas meal is a great idea because it seems to represent the sharing that I associate with Christmas. Just a shame we struggled to finish all the food! Were you as happy with the main as the starter?

Fozz: The mezze was the star of the show for me – but I was definitely not disappointed with the main. I ordered the Aubergine & Feta Shakshuka which blew me away from the first mouthful. The spicy tomato sauce was flavourful without being too hot to handle and the feta complemented the baked aubergine beautifully. However, the best part was definitely the crispy onions on the top. The saltiness of them made them so more-ish and they completely defined the dish. How was your main though?

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Katrina: My main was incredible. I got the Lamb Kofta & Spicy Tahina and I’ve honestly never tasted lamb like it. It was so succulent and rich, and it was cooked to perfection, just the right texture. It was quite a rich combination of flavours which meant that I didn’t feel like I could eat too much of it but the relative plainness of the rice did help to balance it out. I would definitely order it again. I’d say that because the first two courses were so good, I went into dessert with similar high expectations but was a little disappointed by it. Would you agree?

Fozz: Sadly, yes. After such great courses, the dessert didn’t contend. I wasn’t keen on the texture of the Dark Chocolate & Red Rose Berries Cake and the Spice Christmas Pudding made the addition of cinnamon and Christmas flavours seem like a fleeting attempt at festivity. Although I did like the Rose Mint Tea as a calming cleanse at the end of a very filling meal. You tried the Baklawa right? Why didn’t the dessert meet your expectations?

 

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Katrina: Well, I’m not the biggest rice pudding fan generally so I feel like my judgement on the Spiced Christmas Rice Pudding isn’t quite fair but I do think they tried to have too many different flavours in it to make it more interesting and it just didn’t really work. I loved the icing on the chocolate cake but I agree with you about the texture of the sponge. I think the orange and cardamom made it a little dry and grainy. It’s a shame you didn’t try the Baklawa because that was definitely the best part of the dessert. The pastry had just the right crispness, and it was very light and sweet. I agree about the tea, that was a nice touch to finish the meal.

Fozz: Still though, one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time and definitely great for Christmas as a shared eating experience. Thank you so much for a lovely evening Katrina!

Katrina: Yes, overall the food was incredible and I’d definitely go back to Comptoir Libanais again! Thanks to you too!

-Charlotte (Fozz) Forrester & Katrina Bennett

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