There is something so special about going out for lunch on a Sunday. Yes, it’s great not having to cook and wash up obviously but it’s more than that. Being with your friends and family, catching up on the previous week’s news, sharing laughter and of course eating delicious food does us all the world of good.
It’s a proven fact that eating together brings you closer together, strengthens ties and builds better relationships. This, in turn, has a knock-on effect creating better self-esteem from a sense of belonging. It’s a win-win. So with this in mind, I headed out to meet my friend Chloe for a late lunch.
If you are looking for somewhere to share a meal with your friends or family in a casual setting may I suggest Comptoir Libanais? Comptoir Libanais is probably my favourite foodie chain. It still feels like it’s a one-off and the staff are always pleasant and attentive. I truly love mezze and the warming flavours of Lebanon. The gentle spices, the smooth dips with flatbreads, comforting tagines and grilled meats with vegetables. The food is great for sharing so perfect for my lunch date but would be equally good for large groups. I noticed whilst visiting that they were taking bookings for the “C” word so perhaps Comptoir Libanais could be a fun Christmas party venue? Yep, it’s that time of year again!
We were greeted with a smile and shown to our window side table where we spent quite some time catching up on our news whilst perusing the menu. The menu is varied but centres around Lebanese cuisine. I adore the freshness that comes with traditional flavours of the Lebanon. Garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and fresh herbs create the basis of many dishes alongside spices like black pepper, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, ginger and fenugreek. Many of the dishes at Comptoir Libanais are vegetation too. Great for a non meat eater like myself. It’s always a treat to have so much choice.
After much contemplation, Chloe and I decided on ordering a few of the hot and cold mezze dishes on the menu instead of going for a larger meal. I much prefer this way of eating. You get to sample so much more from a menu and experience flavour combinations that you may not get from a singular dish.
We enjoyed a cold beer alongside our dip selection, falafel, spicy potatoes and halloumi and tomato salad. Each dish was beautifully presented. The way the design on the plates complimented the colours of the food it was presenting was a nice touch. Little things like this make such a huge difference. It’s here the saying “eat with your eyes” came to mind.
The falafel were just how they should be. Crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The dips were smooth and full to bursting with flavour. The baba ghanuj, being a favourite here. The combination of aubergine purée, garlic, lemon and tahini was so good when scooped up in a warm flatbread.
The tomato and halloumi salad was so fresh in flavour. The addition of the salty black olives took this dish to another level. Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best and with just three ingredients and a drizzle of high quality olive oil, this was a highlight for me.
For dessert, we shared a gorgeous orange blossom mouhalabia, a traditional Lebanese milk pudding, alongside some baklava. The perfect sweet end to our lunch date.
We couldn’t fault the food from start to finish and it was lovely to be able to take time over lunch without feeling hurried. It gave Chloe and I the chance to savour our meal as well as catch up on all our news.
You will find Comptoir Libanais on Queen Street, Exeter, EX4 3HP. Telephone: 01392 249588.
Disclaimer: I was invited to dine at Comptoir Libanais, Exeter. I was not paid for this post and all views are my own as always.
Photographs by the wonderful Chloe Upton Studios.