Comptoir Libanais is, for me, still one of those places that is hugely underrated. Although it’s in one of the most prominent locations in the Trinity shopping centre, it is tucked away to the side of The Everyman cinema, with a very subtle shop front, almost somewhat unseen between the bustles of people. Inside though, Comptoir comes to life with bold colours and patterns, middle eastern accessories glistening on every wall with beautiful smells of Lebanese food filling the room.
It’s a worthwhile dining experience and having been before where we hugely enjoyed our evening feasting of different classic dishes (review here), we were really looking forward to returning to try their dishes of the month, taking inspiration from Veganuary.As such, we ordered all three vegan specials, which was made up from two starters and a main, alongside some long-standing dishes from the main menu too.
For starters, one of the Lebanese vegan flavours of the month was the hommos and falafel with harissa sauce. The hommos (also hummus and humus) was smooth and creamy, with a falafel dolloped in the centre. Again, this chickpea variation was tasty, but was quite tough to cut into.
The baked aubergine with coriander dressing was one of my highlights. This starter showcased the very best of how an aubergine should be cooked and how it should be enjoyed. Roasted well, the aubergine skin was crispy with a slight charcoal taste to it, whilst the centre of it was soft and maintained a good texture after cooking. What made the dish pop was the contrasting flavour and heat from the chilli slices and pomegranate seeds. The coriander, pistachio and molasses dressing gave the dish the perfect finishing touches.
And although not on the vegan menu, we additionally ordered the cheese samboussek pastries, a favourite of mine that I discovered in my first experience with Comptoir.For our mains, the slow cooked vegetable tagine was the January special which was a hotpot packed with tomato, pepper, aubergine, onion and chickpeas. When given the option of which grain you would like, I would highly recommend the vermicelli rice. The vegetables were soft, and the flavours were comforting – a solid winter dish to enjoy on a cold night. This is a great dish for people that enjoy stewed garden vegetables. For Nathan, this wasn’t his preferred dish due to the amount of aubergines and texture it had, but I happily tucked into it instead.
The second main we ordered was the spiced salmon shakshuka. A classic middle-eastern dish which usually is served with poached eggs, yet in this instance, the key component was salmon . The slow-cooked dish included tomatoes, peppers, onion and chilli. And for our side dish with this, we asked for batata harra which are spiced Lebanese potatoes with fresh coriander, garlic and, again, chilli. This was a brilliant match to the shakshuka.My chosen drink of the evening too was the Rose & Rym Daiquiri – a frozen slurp of rum, lemon juice and rose syrup. A sweet, delicious and refreshing drink, with a beautiful rose petal garnish.
And whilst baklava is always a must when on the menu, and the delicacies at Comptoir Libanais are amazing, there was simply just not enough space to really enjoy the full pleasures of this sweet dessert. So ladies and gentlemen, the lesson here is, always leave space for a sweet treat!
Have you been to Comptoir before? I would love to know in the comments below what your favourites are on the menu.
Lots of love,