Bringing flavours of the Middle East to Leeds, Comptoir Libanais is on a foodie mission to make Lebanese food a more regular appearance and destination to hungry diners.
Having walked past their Leeds restaurant many occasions, I always loved how colourful and fun the interior was, gushed at the menu, and looking forward to getting booked in.With beautiful décor, including many traditional middle eastern products from fez hats to straw bags and brass tea pots, before even enjoying the Levantine style of cooking, you’re immersed into a whole new world.
To get the full Lebanese food experience, we started the evening with a mezze platter to share. Included were hummus, baba ghanuj, tabbouleh, falafel, natural labné, and cheese samboussek, pickles and flatbread to enjoy all the dips with.We also ordered three pieces of lamb kibbeh, which sounded brilliant.
Fresh, zingy, flavoursome, and so pretty to look at. Both the cheese samboussek and kibbeh were the highlights of the starters.
First of all, cheese. You can’t beat cheese filo pastries. As for the kibbeh, the taste was phenomenal and moreish, and the texture of the minced lamb cracked wheat parcels was fascinating.Each dish was garnished to absolute perfection. A garnish of coriander and pomegranate seeds that complemented the dishes flavours and made them so beautiful.
For mains, I went with the lamb and prune tagine, a slow-cooked stew, packed with flavours. Here, there was an option to pair the main with couscous, vermicelli rice or quinoa, and upon recommendation from our lovely waiter, I choose vermicelli rice.And I can confirm that this was a great recommendation.
In the stew, the pieces of lamb were extremely tender and juicy, with soft chunks of butternut squash, and squishy sweet prunes. This combination was a match made in heaven.
Garnished with a generous sprinkling of roasted almonds and sesame seeds which added a whole new level to the dish.
Nathan caught glimpse of the mixed grill, and well you know, can you really beat a selection of perfectly seasoned and cooked meats? As part of the meaty goodness, there was a combination of lamb and chicken koftas, and chicken taouk, served with a fresh Comptoir salad and vermicelli rice.
For a meat lover, there couldn’t have been a better dish for Nathan. The variety was great, portion size generous, yet most importantly, flavoursome and perfectly cooked Mediterranean styled meats.With nothing but empty plates from our sharing platter and mains, the dessert menu was brought out, with a good handful of lucrative sweet treats.
When it comes to desserts, our preferences usually massively differ. I tend to go for more fruity crumbles or crème brûlée, whilst Nathan goes for gooey chocolate bakes or sticky toffee treats.At Comptoir, our dessert selections were aligned. And whilst the other desserts also sounded beautiful, we were both drawn to the traditional goodness of the Middle East – all we desired was baklava. Two plates full at that. One plate, which comes with six different styles, would lend itself well to share, but as big baklava lovers, we decided to go all out have 12 between us.
To accompany, a latte for Nathan, and a Lebanese spiced hot chocolate for me. It was one of the prettiest hot chocolates I had ever seen, and taste-wise, spot on.The hot chocolate twist was the cinnamon and tahina infusion, completed with a sprinkling of halva.As you can imagine, we were in a real good place. That happy place where you’ve just enjoyed every delicacy placed before you.
Comptoir Libanais was a real treat, in both aesthetics and taste. I shall look forward to the next visit.