This week I was invited by the lovely people at Comptoir Libanais to visit their brand new store on Gloucester Road. It’s literally a stone’s throw away from the Gloucester Road tube station and easily the most eye catching place around. Since I’m a huge fan of lebanese food I couldn’t turn the offer down and boy am I glad I visited.
Before we even stepped foot inside the restaurant, we were greeted by someone at the door serving passers by mint tea. I thought this was such a nice touch and so welcoming. They have a few steps going up and an outdoor area where you can also sit and eat if you’re feeling an al fresco experience.
I thought it was really cute how every seat also had a blanket draped over it incase you go cold too. Since the weather was cold we decided to dine inside and headed indoors.
Now i’ve been to other Comptoir branches before but the interior at Gloucester Road is so stunning. The walls are jam packed with brightly coloured baskets and the most beautiful teapots and best of all they’re all available to buy. I love how the price tags on each item add to the kitsch feel of the place. It’s kind of every bloggers dream restaurant, because there is SO much to photograph and even the flooring has the coolest tiles for those FWIS shots. There’s not an inch of the place that doesn’t give you the exotic feels. I must have taken a few hundred pictures and it’s been so hard narrowing them down – I’ll try my best not to make this post too photo heavy!
The staff at Comptoir were so friendly and immediately made us feel really welcome. We sat in a cute little booth overlooking the street and outdoor area. I fell in love with the fez hats on the wall and was so tempted to purchase one! In fact I was so busy taking the interior in that I completely forgot to decide what I wanted to eat!
When eating in middle eastern restaurants I often find that I struggle with the menu because I’m not too sure what the dishes entail but the staff were really helpful and even though the menu was clear about what each dish was, they helped us decide catering to our individual tastes.
The menu is packed with everything you could possibly want but what I love most is that you won’t find anything deep-fried or covered in fat here. Everything is made fresh and all the meats are grilled and garnished with the best greens – mint yoghurt, harissa and garlic sauces, zaatar grilled tomato and green chilli. It’s so refreshing to be able to dine out and not feel guilty afterwards!
For starters we opted for a mezze for two which included: Baba ghanuj, hommos, tabbouleh, falafel, lentil salad, cheese sambousek, pickles & pita bread.
I mean seriously, how delicious does that look? Honestly, we were so excited by the food that we went a little bit crazy with it and were tucking into it as if it was the main course! We were famished before we came to the restaurant so we ordered the mezzo platter for two and it was HUGE. I think I’d definitely recommend that you stick to a platter for one if it’s just a starter. If you’re a vegetarian, you could actually probably just have this and you’d be completely satisfied. Everything tasted fresh and even the pita was warm.
For the main course the manager talked us through some of the dishes they had and I have to say it all sounded delicious. I’m not very big on red meat so I definitely wanted just chicken and opted for the Shish Taouk which is cubes of grilled marinated chicken breast served with vermicelli rice and my friend ordered the Mixed Grill which was Lamb kofta, chicken kofta, chicken shish taouk served with vermicelli rice. Now I do love rice but I love Batata Hara more so we both decided to replace our rice with it. Batata Hara is Lebanese spiced fries with red pepper, fresh coriander, garlic & chilli. Once you taste it, you’ll never want to eat anything else again, I swear!
For drinks we ordered a Virgin Mojito Twist which is a soda with muddled mint lime over crushed ice topped with pomegranate juice. The staff were very accommodating about turning it into an alcohol free drink for me and we also ordered ‘Mira’ which is Fresh mint, lemon, lime & orange blossom lemonade. Both drinks were absolutely delicious. The mojito was super refreshing but Mira was definitely more traditional. It had a middle eastern kick to it, so if you want to go all out and get into the Lebanese spirit I would definitely recommend it.
Whilst we waited for the food, I took a closer look at some of the things they were selling and I got a little carried away at making a list of everything I would be coming back to buy. On closer inspection of the goodies they have displayed, they actually sell all the ingredients you need to make all of their dishes and best of all they have two recipe books that allow you to make all of your favourite dishes from the comfort of your own kitchen!
Since visiting the restaurant I actually went online and bought the ‘Express’ book from Amazon because for someone like me who isn’t that great at cooking, it had healthy and tasty dishes that were made so simple to make. Plus all the ingredients are so easily available now that it’s even easier. If you don’t want to order a big hardback book then you can even download it on your kindle! Get the book here. If you’re interested in buying any of their crockery and can’t get to a restaurant you can buy some bits here.
Whilst my food was settling into my stomach, I decided to have a little walk around and have a look at all the treats around the restaurant such as displays of beautiful baklava and the cute flooring. We were seated next to a staircase which led downstairs and so I took a little wander downstairs too and oh my goodness, when I had thought the upstairs looked good, downstairs was on another level (no pun intended!). There was less of the objects for sale and less of a ‘Kitsch’ feel but it still looked amazing. They’ve also got lots of seating and could cater for group bookings too.
Also, you guys all know how I love to check out the toilets too and I stayed in there a little longer than necessary taking selfies with the cute tiles.
When I finally made my way back upstairs, I realised that I was way too full to eat any dessert but since we were enjoying the place so much we decided to have some hot drinks. We ordered Fresh Rose Mint Tea served in a silver teapot (without the rose) and Lebanese spiced hot chocolate which was Steamed hot chocolate infused with cinnamon and tahini sprinkled with halva.
I’m not a fan of mint tea so I passed on that but the hot chocolate was something else! Honestly, even if I wasn’t hungry for food, I’d come here just to have the hot chocolate again.
All in all, I had a fantastic time and I would definitely recommend Comptoir Libanais on Gloucester Road to anyone and everyone. They exceeded my expectations on every aspect, including the food, service and atmosphere. The food is halal too so even higher marks from me!