London Restaurant: Comptoir Libanais

by Sasha Wilkins on January 9, 2014 · 11 comments

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As much as I could eat leftover cold roast potatoes, bread sauce and Quality Street for, well, pretty much forever, there does come a point during the festive period where your palate starts screaming for stimulation. Middle Eastern food is clearly what the doctor orders in these situations and, in London, Comptoir Libanais hits the spot.

Tony Kitous, who previously opened both Pasha and Levant, has turned his hand to Lebanese home-style dishes, and is gradually opening a mini chain of Comptoir Libanais on the High Street (there are seven at the moment). The first was in Westfield, but the one we go to is on Wigmore Street, hard by St Christopher’s Place, and handy for returning Christmas presents/checking out the sales/collapsing into after a hard morning’s work.

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New Year’s Eve Day saw my mother descend upon the capital to celebrate with friends so I arranged to meet her here: a long time Claudia Roden aficionado, she adores anything Middle Eastern on her plate.

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We ordered a large mezze plate to share, along with a starter portion of halloumi with rose syrup. For a lunchtime we found this quite enough, mopped up with a generous plate of warm pita bread. I always think that the particular pleasure of a mezze plate is the wide range of sharp flavours, that someone all manage to complement each other. This one included an exemplary Baba ghanuj, hommos, a very welcome tabbouleh, packed with green vitamins, falafel (the only letdown, dry and heavy), organic lentil salad, cheese sambousek, and pickles.

If you are a Halloumi addict, then this is the place to come: this was nothing like the plastic wrapped, vacuum packed blocks from the supermarket: almost fluffy in texture, with the rose syrup balancing the salt, it was delicious.

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If you want to eat on the hoof, or at your desk, everything is available to go at the deli counter, and they make good coffee too, although sadly not the delicious thick Lebanese stuff. They also specialise in fruit juices, and in home-made lemonades: I ordered the pomegranate & orange blossom, which again provided that sharp/sweet hit, which is at the centre of so much Lebanese cooking.

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There are also shelves of provisions running along the walls of the restaurant, making it an ideal multi-tasking destination.

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We stocked up on Mulberry syrup (lovely with Halloumi, or mixed with fizzy water for a refreshing drink), a big tin of baklava, figs in syrup for spooning over yogurt, and fig jam. I also picked up some of Hannah’s favourite harissa for her.

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If we hadn’t gone shopping simultaneously, the bill wouldn’t have been high: our drinks bill came to £14.50, and the food £23.60 for two people. If they could sort out the falafel, and prod the charming staff into moving a little faster, then this place would be damn near perfect.

www.lecomptoir.co.uk
65 Wigmore Street, London, W1U 1JT Tel: 020 7935 1110 Opening hours: Mon-Sat 8am – 11:30pm, Sun 11:30am – 10:30pm

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{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Blonde January 9, 2014 at 12:43

I stumbled across the branch around the corner from the V&A at the weekend. Delicious. Agree with you on the falafel, though – massively stodgy. Will be going back for the halloumi.

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Fashion Follows Her January 9, 2014 at 15:40

The pomegranate & orange blossom lemonade sounds lovely… one of my favourite flavours. After a month of sweets and roast dinners it’s funny how I always fancy some Asian inspired food- must be my bodies way of telling me to step away from the Quality Street!

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ceri January 10, 2014 at 10:51

Thank you — I do so enjoy your posts.

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helena January 10, 2014 at 11:29

Hi Sasha – I love these little restaurants too. What is galling though is that that brand of harissa can be picked up for less than a Euro in France in any supermarket. I always stock up when I cross the channel.

H

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Sasha Wilkins January 10, 2014 at 11:59

@helena: well, it’s only £1.50 here…LLGxx

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Marlene January 10, 2014 at 16:55

I’ve only been to the restaurant once for a quick bite. I wasn’t too impressed with the food or service.

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Disneyrollergirl January 11, 2014 at 02:10

I never liked falafel until I tried Comptoir, but then i am a lover of stodge! We go to the branch in Broadwick street where they make mr Drg’s wraps to his v fussy specifications. Can def recommend their juices as well as, um, the strawberry Fanta…

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Carrie Kitkat January 12, 2014 at 19:15

This is really fantastic to know, thank you and also to Blonde for the V & A heads up. Do you know of Pera on Upper Street – had a lovely Saturday lunch there, with my sisters, last year. Would recommend – if you ever venture to N1

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Sasha Wilkins January 16, 2014 at 02:09

@Carrie Kitkat: You are so right Carrie! Pera is wonderful; a real old favourite. (In my twenties various of my friends lived in and around Highbury, so I spent a lot of time in N1/N7. LLGxx

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Chelsea M March 3, 2014 at 10:38

Love the comptoir libanais decor! Fairly similar to the vibe I am trying to emulate in my own kitchen at the moment, though basing it around these chairs which are a little less clunky:
http://us.pamono.com/wooden-desk-chairs-in-red-green-1950s

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Victoria March 23, 2014 at 14:30

Thanks for the tip Sasha! I was in London a few weekends ago for a buswomen’s holiday visit to the Science Museum. Following your tip we had a very delicious dinner at Comptoir Libanais, south Ken branch.

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