Review: Exeter’s Comptoir Libanais

Fozz: I can’t believe we got invited back to Comptoir Libanais. I really enjoyed the food the last time we went but omg that review we did – I got so many comments about how cringey it was!

Katrina: I would say that we’ll try to make this review less cringey but, to be honest, I really don’t think we can make any promises on that. It was great to be invited back to Comptoir though, and given how much I enjoyed it last time, I definitely had high expectations for this meal. What were you expecting?

Fozz: Over the past year it has become one of my favourite restaurants so I definitely had high expectations. Which were met at the starter options to be honest. We shared a mezze platter and the batata harra (spiced Lebanese potatoes with fresh coriander, garlic, and chilli) and I loved it so much – that baba ghanuj is divine.

Katrina: I loved the mezze platter too, it had a beautiful range of flavours. The quinoa tabbouleh was my favourite bit, it was so refreshing and made a nice contrast to some of the stronger tastes like the natural labné. As we found though, the only issue with the mezze platter is that it’s so good that you eat it all and then you’re left feeling pretty full before you even start the main course.

Fozz: I was pretty stuffed after that platter – everything is just so more-ish. The batata harra were irresistible, flavourful, but not overpowering. It did mean though that when I got to my aubergine tagine I knew there was no chance I’d make it all the way through, although I made sure to eat all of my crispy onions as they are the star of the dish.

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Katrina: I remember how much you loved the crispy onions last time we went to Comptoir Libanais too! What did you think of the aubergine tagine generally? It looked really tasty.

Fozz: It was delicious – the tomato sauce and crispy onions are divine but weren’t as salty as last time which was a shame. Plus I chose to have it served with couscous and it was just way too much. It was a proper bed of couscous with loads left over even after soaking up all of the sauce. Plus it didn’t have a highly distinct flavour on its own so couldn’t be enjoyed individually as a side. You had a burger though which was rogue…

Katrina: Honestly the lamb and halloumi burger was incredible. It seemed like a bit of a random flavour combination when I ordered it, but they paired together so well. The lamb was cooked beautifully, it was so succulent, and I love halloumi, so that just made the burger even better. The spiced Lebanese potatoes on the side were again packed with flavour, but I would say that similar to your couscous, the portion size was a little too large. However, the dish overall made what could have been a very basic burger, a really exciting course. I would definitely order it again. The house white wine we had with our main was great for me as well because its sweet and refreshing flavour tempered the spices in my course well. What did you think of the wine?

Fozz: You know me Katrina – I love a tipple and I ain’t fussy. But you’re right, I was impressed with the house white and it complemented the dishes well, especially with the mezze platter as it wasn’t overpowering when your plate is an array of subtle and nuanced flavours. We had finished it by the time we got to our brownie dessert though. Gutted.

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Katrina: Definitely a shame, I would have been very surprised if it had lasted any longer though. What were your thoughts on the brownie?

Fozz: It was pretty nice, especially with that chocolate sauce, that was so gorgeous. But the dessert menu doesn’t educate you on Middle Eastern flavours, apart from perhaps the baklawa selection or Mouhalabia, as much as the other courses. I would say definitely stuff yourself on starters and mains to gain more insight into some beautiful Lebanese food. Would you agree?

Katrina: Yes I’d definitely agree. The starters and the mains offer such exciting flavour combinations and a real introduction to Lebanese food, but the dessert options are much more generic. The brownie, for instance, had a slight twist with the addition of tahini, however, I don’t think this change offered much improvement to a classic dish. I think it would be great if Comptoir Libanais developed their dessert options more to reflect the high standard of everything else on offer.

Fozz: For sure, but overall I loved the meal so much and I will forever love their mezze. Thank you for a lovely evening Katrina and I’m glad to see that our food writing is still v cringey!

Katrina: Thanks for being a great date! I can’t wait for our next cringey food review together.

-Charlotte (Fozz) Forrester & Katrina Bennett

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