Colourful and communal are the two words that spring to mind when I think of Comptoir Libanais, the “Lebanese Canteen”. I’d actually only ever seen them in airports before, but there several outposts of this restaurant around London, including one in the newly-redeveloped Broadgate Circle near Liverpool Street station.
We seem to have had quite a few team lunches recently as we have colleagues visiting from other offices and go out for lunch together (we all pay for our own food). We actually intended to go to a pizza place this time but hadn’t booked and the wait time was too long, so we went to Comptoir Libanais instead.
The main menu is divided into mezze (hot and cold); wraps; salads; from the grill; tagines, mana’esh (flatbread) and fattets (fried flatbread pieces); chef’s specials; extras and desserts.
Two of my colleagues had a mezze sharing platter which they really enjoyed; I didn’t want anything as substantial as the koftas from the grill (though the grilled pomegranate salmon sounded very nice) so decided to try a flatbread. I wasn’t clear exactly what the difference between mana’esh and fattets would be so chose the topping I thought sounded nice, and ordered the sojok man’ousha – oven-baked flatbread with spicy Armenian lamb sausage, halloumi cheese and tomato with a side salad (£8.95). It was very tasty and filling – as I hadn’t known how big it would be I also ordered a side of batata harra (£3.25) – Lebanese spiced fries with red pepper, fresh coriander, garlic and chilli. These were cubes or chunks of potato rather than chips and not too spicy – I recommend them.
Another thing I liked about this restaurant was the soft drinks menu. It was much more imaginative than just the usual fizzy drinks and juices – I had an apple mint and ginger lemonade called toufaha (£2.45) which was unusual – in a good way – but the ginger flavour was a little too strong. Other people had pomegranate and orange blossom lemonade, or lemon and lime with rose syrup, which looked lovely.
Around the restaurant were items for sale ranging from bags and bowls in Lebanese-inspired patterns to spice mixes and the Comptoir Libanais cookery book which I hadn’t come across before. The company seems to have put a lot of effort into its website which is full of interesting things to read, and they have an online shop – their souk – coming soon.