Lunch At Comptoir Libanis
It was my sister’s birthday and as we both work in the city centre, I took her to lunch at Comptoir Libanis. It recently opened in Grand Central in Birmingham and is a stone’s throw from our offices.
The first Comptoir Libanis restaurant opened in London in 2008. There are several now across the country.Whenever a new place opens, I am keen to experience it although I’m not a big fan of chains. I prefer independent restaurants because of their individual menus, decor and service. It was Min’s birthday so I left it to her to decide.
Comptoir Libanais is next door to Mowgli’s Indian restaurant where Min incidentally took me for lunch on my 40th birthday lunch a few months earlier. Read more about my birthday celebrations here.Comptoir Libanais means Lebanese counter and it known for its healthy food in a souk-like setting.
I was immediately impressed with the decor, which is a huge deal for me when eating out. You walk into bright patterns, turquoise tables and geometric flooring. It’s really colourful throughout and deceptively a large space.We chose to sit right at the back of the restaurant, near a big poster, inspired by a vintage movie poster, of the Arabic actress, Sirine Jamal al Dine.
Her stunning face is also on the front of all the menus.
Min and I ordered our sodas and took our time in taking lots of photos. It’s so beautiful you’d be silly not to capture the colours.
There are rows and rows of handmade Moroccan bags and unique homeware. The waitress explained that these are not just for display purposes but that they’re also for sale.
The menu has a range of mezzes, wraps, tagines, grills and Mana’esh, which is Lebanese style pizza. They do a Breakfast menu too.Min and I opted for a mezze platter and a mixed grill to share. The mezze was made up of hummus, baba ghanuj, tabbouleh, falafel, beetroot labne, cheese samboussek, flatbread and pickles.
The mixed grill included a selection of lamb kofta, chicken kofta and chicken taouk.There are several hats (Fez) hanging on the walls. The waitress said we were more than welcome to have pictures with them on.
It was a fun way to spend our time as we waited for our food.Before we ordered, we told the waitress that we literally had 40 minutes ,as I had to be back at work. They ensured we got our food in no time at all.
I was impressed as the portions were quite a good size. We tucked right in and I particularly enjoyed the hummus.It’s one of my favourite dips anyway but some places just don’t get the balance of flavour right. No complaints here though.
I’m not a fan of cheese so I didn’t really eat the samboussek but we polished off the rest of the cold mezze.The koftas and taouk were really nice too. Admittedly they’re not the best or most flavoursome I’ve tried.
Like I said, I prefer the independent restaurants, especially for Turkish and Lebanese cuisine but the meal was enjoyable nonetheless.Sometimes I fear going out for lunch when I’m working because the food feels so heavy throughout the afternoon.
I prefer to normally take in my own lunch. But eating out on the odd occasion is OK and when the food is this light and fresh, it’s easy to do.That’s one thing that can be said for Comptoir Libanis. The food is light, fresh and healthy. We both left stuffed.
On our way out, we stopped to admire the mini market where customers are able to buy authentic ingredients, homeware, gifts and cookbooks.I would go back again and eat there again because the food is fresh and light. But it was the decor that impressed me the most. It’s the city centre’s most colourful restaurant and we experienced service with a smile.
My overall verdict: 7/10.
Here are some more photos to enjoy…
Read my review of an American Fast Food restaurant, Big Man’s Food.