I must confess this isn’t my first visit to Comptoir Libanais, Exeter. I have been quite a few times before but never has it been warm enough to be offered a table outside. What a treat indeed. The weather of late has been outstanding and being able to dine on Lebanese food in the warm evening summer sun on a random Monday evening was just what I needed after a long day of teaching.
To coincide with this outstanding weather, Comptoir Libanais had recently launched their new summer menu. With the introduction of a few new dishes and tweaks to the ever popular original menu.
On arrival, we took our seats outside in the Queen Street Dining courtyard that Comptoir Libanais looks out over. With St Pancras church as the backdrop, we ordered drinks. Steve, my companion for the evening ordered an Almaza. A light pilsner style beer that was a perfect choice for the warm summers evening. I opted for a glass of Lebanese white wine. I like to try and keep things authentic when dining out and having a Chilean Chenin Blanc just wouldn’t be right in my opinion here. This wine, a fruity, off-dry white suited my palate perfectly.
After perusing the menu for a short while I asked our attentive and polite waitress for help choosing the new items from the menu. She picked out a few options for us which happened to be the exact dishes that we had our eyes on. To start there was only one choice in my opinion. The mezze platters are second to none at Comptoir Libanais and never fail to impress. With the addition of the new and deliciously pink beetroot labné, it was a vision to behold when it arrived.
Falafel, cheese samboussek (a pastry parcel filled with melted cheese), hommos, baba ghanuj, tabbouleh, beetroot labné, flatbreads and pickles served on a large platter to share. Every morsel was divine with the labné and baba ghanuj being stand out additions for me.
Our main courses were again from the new menu. Steve’s choice being Spiced Salmon Shakshuka. Salmon roasted in pomegranate molasses nestled in a chunky tomato, onion, peppers and chilli sauce. Our waitress recommended the addition of couscous to mop up the juices. She was right. The dish arrived and was huge which is no bad thing for a hungry diner but it was simply a salmon fillet with lots of sauce. It needed the couscous for texture and substance. The dish itself was delicious but Steve wondered if it might be better if it was a little smaller with couscous or rice included instead of having to order as a side.
My dish was from the new summer menu also and one of the many vegan options available. A Falafel and Fattoush salad with a pomegranate molasses dressing. I had been dreaming of eating falafel ever since I had woken up that morning so it was definitely the right choice for me. With it being a salad it was also one of the lighter options which meant I had a little space reserved for dessert!
Steve and I decided to share dessert and we decided on ice cream. One, because it was so warm and two, because we had little space left but fancied a little something sweet to round off our meal. 3 scoops of very good vanilla ice cream with rose water and a red berry compote. The perfect end to a balmy evening in what was our little taste of Lebanon for the night.
Our evening at Comptoir Libanais was a delicious one. The staff were conscientious and polite which made our dining experience a pleasure. I can pretty much guarantee that this won’t be my last visit. That mezze platter and beetroot labné are way too good not to have again.
You can find Comptoir Libanais on Queen Street, Exeter, EX4 3HP.
You can phone the restaurant on 01392 249588 to book or email [email protected]ais.com.
Disclaimer: I was invited to visit Comptoir Libanais to sample the new summer menu. I was not paid for this post and all views are my own as always.