Friday, 11 December 2015

Comptoir Libanais, Manchester

Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Urgh, that thing when you had plans that fell through... Then you have to decide where else you could go, but it's cold, and windy, and you're not sure whether you have frost bite in your left little toe. But hark! You remember about Comptoir Libanais, and rabbit so quickly to your pals that you are quite incoherent for a moment.

We arrived at Comptoir Libanais, once again, in the middle of an end of days style storm. It was wet, blowing a gale, and my hair looked like I'd had some sort of breakdown. We were welcomed by very excitable staff, who seemed genuinely keen to get us in, settled and with drink in hand.

I'd never had Lebanese food before, but I have to tell you, I was very excited. I love bits; spicy bits and dips with lots of variety. There's a special place in my heart for a belly-busting roast, but bits will win hands down every time. With this in mind, we decided to opt for the mezze, partially because it removed the trauma of having to choose from such a wonderful menu.

First up though, a delicious strawberry cocktail and a beer to warm us up a sniff.
Arak Strawberry Collins - Bloom gin & Arak served up in a classic Collins style with fresh strawberries
Almaza – Lebanese beer
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
  • Falafel - Chickpeas, broad beans, coriander, parsley, garlic and peppers: They look so boring, but taste so wonderful. Perfect when dipped in things.
  • Hummus - Smooth rich chickpea puree with tahini and lemon juice: Sometimes a bit bland, but this had a lovely taste and texture. Lots of pitta was consumed with this. 
  • Baba Ghanuj - Smoked aubergines, tahini and lemon juice with pomegranate seeds: Aubergine is normally a bit slimy and untrustworthy in texture for me, but this was gorgeous! Loved the tangy pomegranate seeds.
  • Fattoush - Baby gem lettuce, cherry tomatoes, radishes, red onion, mint and parsley, with toasted pita bread, fresh pomegranates and sumac dressing: It's like a good version of salad... 
  • Lahme Man’ousha - Oven baked flat bread with minced lamb, diced onions, pepper and chilli topped with mint leaves, pomegranate seeds, a wedge of lemon and pomegranate molasses: God this was outstanding! Spicy meat on soft bread. Nice...
  • Sojok in Pomegranate Molasses - Spicy Armenian sausages with tomato, parsley and pomegranate molasses: Sausages in sweet stuff; what's not to love about this?
  • Jawaneh - Chargrilled marinated chicken wings served with harissa and garlic sauce: I have form for getting chicken wing sauce all over my face, so usually skip them. Couldn't resist though because they smelled amazing. I mitigated the risk by using a knife and fork. Playa...
  • Batata Harra - Lebanese spiced fries with red pepper, fresh coriander, garlic and chili: These are like little spicy roasties. Loved their crispiness!
  • Pickles - Dead sea pickles: I am a total freak for pickles. These were exceptional! Perfect for dipping. 
  • Pitta Bread - Soft, warm bread, perfect for dips: We ate way too much of this, and then it was seamlessly replenished by our waitress. Then we ate more.
  • Harissa, mint and yoghurt, garlic and tahini sauces: Dips rock my socks; and these were no exception. 
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester - Mezze
Mixed Grill - Lamb kofta, chicken kofta, chicken shish taouk served with vermicelli rice: So imagine you've just eaten everything above, then this appears. I could have cried. Word of advice; the mezze is enough. You do not need a mixed grill, despite what your initially hungry belly will tell you. At a push, share one! It's bloody good though. Those chicken pieces are pretty hardcore. 
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester - Mixed Grill
Baklawa and a selection of Lebanese pastries: I was pathetic by this stage. I managed little nibbles, like a wee rodent, then sat with the face on until the lovely tea arrived. 

Comptoir Libanais, Manchester - Mezze
Fresh Rose Mint Tea served in a silver teapot - A healthy blend of green tea, fresh mint, rose water and sugar: I presumed I wouldn't like this because it has fresh mint in it (fresh mint being the Devil's weed). Poured from a height, the smell of this permeated the air with sweet mint and rose. It's utterly delicious. They blend it in house, otherwise I'd have bought several kilos. Tetley just isn't the same...
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester - Tea
An unexpected evening out at Comptoir Libanase turned into a little cracker. The service was exceptional, and the food was some of the best I've had in a while. I'm already looking forward to going back for brunch of some description. Turns out I'm a big fan of Lebanese food. 

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