An Evening at Comptoir Libanais 

Comptoir Libanais, Exeter

I like Comptoir Libanais. No, strike that. I REALLY like Comptoir Libanais. The food served is simple, tasty and centred around a Lebanese cuisine. Lebanon is completely surrounded in geographical terms by Syria and sits on the Mediterranean Sea with Israel being another close neighbour. Think warm sunny climates and then you will understand why Comptoir Libanais serve the kind of food that they do. Lots of delicious mezze, grilled meats, tagines and salads are on the menu to tempt. If you love Mediterranean inspired food that isn’t the usual Italian then you’ll love it here.

I dined on a Thursday early evening and the place was already busy when I arrived. Steve, my dining companion for the night was already waiting for me. Sitting at a lovely table for two by one of the vast windows drinking a Lebanese beer called Almaza. I knew that I wanted a delicious lemonade to quench my thirst and asked my waitress for a recommendation. She promptly replied that the Toufaha was her particular favourite. A combination of apple, mint and ginger. I agreed it sounded tasty so took her up on the recommendation.

The menu was tempting but I knew in my head I wanted something cheesey and with plenty of halloumi dishes on the menu I had my work cut out choosing. But first I was hankering for some mezze. Mezze are little sharing plates that everyone can dig into and a very sociable way to dine. We opted for the mezze platter that had a taste of most of the cold mezze dishes on the menu. Falafel, tabbouleh, lentil salad, cheese sambousek and delicious dips all served with pita bread for scooping up the wonderful flavours. I have to confess that this type of dining has to be my all time favourite. I love big dishes of food for people to dig in to and this fitted the bill exactly. Both Steve and I couldn’t fault our mezze starter. A huge platter of delicious delicacies. My personal favourites were the baba ghanuj. A dip made with aubergine, tahini and lemon juice served with warm pita bread for scooping it up and the falafel. The baba ghanuj was topped with juicy pomegranate seeds that pop in your mouth and drizzled with olive oil. The falafel was moist and flavoursome. You often find in restaurants that falafel can be a little dry due to the nature of the ingredients, but not here. The collection of flavours on the plate was sublime and both Steve and I agreed that this dish is a star on the menu. This will be a “go to” dish for me every time I return to Comptoir Libanais.

To satisfy my cheesey cravings I opted for the halloumi and olive wrap served with an authentic salad and the most deliciously creamy hummus. Although very tasty I would have personally liked the halloumi to have been grilled before being wrapped up in its pitta blanket. It was a little underwhelming and I couldn’t help having food envy. Steve’s lamb kofta tagine served with cous cous was a real winner. The rich tomato sauce, that was delicately spiced, complimented the lamb kofta perfectly. The mint and yoghurt dip that was served alongside set everything off. I would highly recommend a tagine if you fancied something a little more substantial. There is a vegetarian option too with aubergine which I should imagine would be delicious. This was my second choice and in hind sight I think I would have preferred that over the wrap. Next time…

Our waitress was lovely throughout our meal and very attentive. Often checking to see if we were ok for drinks or if the food was up to scratch. She was also quick to recommend dishes to us if we were hesitant.

Desserts were offered and accepted. Steve plumped for the decadent chocolate and tahini brownie served with chocolate sauce and vanilla ice cream. A picture on the plate and he couldn’t wait to dig in. Although not a traditional dense brownie, it was delicious. A lighter more spongy consistency which Steve enjoyed. Of course I had a little taste and I loved the flavour of sesame coming through from the tahini.

I was rather full but fancied a sweet treat of my own. Rose and mint tea and some baklawa were the order of the day for me. The rose and mint tea was the perfect way to end my meal and the tiny sweet and sticky Lebanese pastries just complimented the tea perfectly. Just enough to satisfy that after dinner sweet craving.

Steve and I very much enjoyed our evening at Comptoir Libanais. The service was spot on and the food was on the whole cooked well, presented beautifully and tasted authentic. I can’t wait to return so I can get to sample the aubergine tagine in the hope that my food envy will fade away. In fact I have a lunch date booked in already with a friend next week so I will let you know how I get on in my next “Week In Pictures” post.

I would highly recommend popping down for some tasty morsels at your earliest convenience. Open from 8.30am-11.30pm Monday – Saturday and from 9am-10.30pm on Sunday.

Disclaimer; I was invited to review Comptoir Libanais, Exeter in return for a review. I was not paid for this post and all my opinions are my own. 

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