Sunday, 28 January 2018

Comptoir Libanais, Manchester

Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
'Bits' are the best. The art of convincing yourself 'oh look at me, I'm eating little tiny things like a dinky bird', where in reality, it's the joy of not being tied to one main, then staring furiously at someone else's whilst cursing yourself for not ordering the same. No my friend, mezze is the future.

Lebanese food lets light into the soul; spicy, warming and lots of 'bits' which make you beam. A couple of weeks ago, my friend Ellie and I got ourselves involved in a bit of Veganuary at Comptoir Libanais. This was going to be interesting, as I am a full on carnivore and she's pescatarian, so we wanted to see just how full can two hungry girls get with no meat or dairy? Challenge set.
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Comptoir Libanais has to be one of the prettiest restaurants in the city. Lebanese restaurants are usually full of colour, with vibrant tiles, extravagant teapots and the most wonderful ingredients to buy to take home. The restaurant is spacious and light, and there's even a bar tucked away at the back for those in need of pre-dinner drinks, or a cheeky glass of something with nibbles.

So then, this mezze I was on about. I was determined not to make a pig of myself after the great 'Pre-Sum 41 Disaster of 2017', where I was so full after eating Lebanese food, that I went to the bar during the gig and had to ask for a glass of squash. Party hard. Would history repeat itself?

The promotional picture below really does not do the volume of food justice. Looks okay hey? Colours as dazzling as their home, it really is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for your belly.
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Here's how we got on.

Drinks: Great range of wines, cocktails, beers, and homemade soft drinks, with extra brownie points going to our hostess who found the ingredients list of a discontinued cocktail Ellie had fawned over online. It's also essential that I mention (and stand by) my original description of the rose tea we were served too; 'magical'.
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Mezze to share:
Hommos - smooth rich chickpea purée with tahini and lemon juice, served with pita bread: The original hommos listed on the menu was beetroot, which is fine if you like soil. I do not, therefore this was easily swapped for the regular version. I really must impress upon you that this stuff makes the pots from M&S taste like beige nothing. This is so rich and full of flavour, there's a definite difference with the authentic stuff.
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Baba Ghanuj - smoked aubergine, tahina and lemon juice with pomegranate seeds, served with pita bread: Drenched in the most beautifully scented olive oil with pomegranate seeds, this dip is like a little glimpse of lunch in Heaven.
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Freekeh - smoked green wheat, wild rocket, vine tomato, spring onion, apple vinegar and mint dressing: Not keen on rocket, so why was this so wonderful? I often find it drowns the taste of anything you serve it with, so I can only presume that the combination and balance of flavours here were just bob-on.
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Falafel - chickpea and broad bean pate, coriander, parsley, garlic and peppers, served with tahina sauce: They always look so dry and uninviting, but once cracked open, these little balls of delight are a taste sensation, especially when drowned in tahina and eaten with those bright pink pickles. Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Quinoa and Pumpkin Salad - quinoa, chickpeas, vine tomato, fresh mint, topped roasted pumpkin, apple vinaigrette and pomegranate dressing: The first time I ate quinoa was in porridge with protein powder. This is not like that porridge. Soft and spicy with texture for days. This went down very well indeed.
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Aubergine Tagine - baked baby aubergine in a rich tomato and chickpea sauce: By far my stand out dish of the day. There's something about a warming tagine served with fluffy rice that wraps me in a big blanket and makes me feel safe from the cold outside.
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
Rose Water Mouhalabia - coconut milk and rose water Lebanese milk pudding: A little like a very light blancmange with a subtle rose flavour. Ellie was a big fan of this one.
Comptoir Libanais, Manchester
What an amazing afternoon! It was howling a gale outside, and there we were, feasting, drinking cocktails and declaring tea 'magical'. In all honesty, you would barely notice that everything was plant based, because it was just so unbelievably delicious, and we left feeling incredibly full indeed. Many of the foods served like chickpeas, aubergine and quinoa take on the flavours of the spices when cooked well, so feel hearty and soothing. 

Don't get me wrong, I'm never going to change my meat eating ways, but will happily reorder ay of these items in the future. They are on the normal menu all year round, so you can still sample them all.

Go here for a slow afternoon of chit chat, cocktails, and the most beautiful food.

Disclaimer: I was invited to the restaurant to complete an honest review. I was under no obligation to say nice things!

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