“Comptoir Libanais”:https://www.comptoirlibanais.com/ in Broadgate Circle, at the back of Liverpool Street Station, was chosen for a birthday meal out with two friends. The chain was founded by Tony Kitous and the story of how he brought Lebanese food to London is described on the “website”:https://www.comptoirlibanais.com/our-story.
On booking my table online I mentioned the birthday and requested (1) a nice table and (2) a fuss for the birthday girl.
On arrival at 1pm on a Monday in mid-November none of us we prepared for how busy the place was, with what appeared to be office workers from the surrounding tower blocks. However we were shown to a table which was slightly away from the others and on the edge of the restaurant, so it was a little quieter. Request 1 achieved – nice table allocated.
The decor in Comptoir Libanais is generally stunning and colourful, and the branch at Broadgate was no exception (see photos).
Having been presented with the “main menu”:https://www.comptoirlibanais.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/ComtoirWebMenu12.5_2021.pdf and “cocktail menu”:https://www.comptoirlibanais.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Comptoir_CocktailsMenu_2021-3.pdf we waited a considerable time for someone to take our order which was eventually put directly into the till we were sat next to. Although the mezze starters are ideal for sharing, we decided to order one each. I chose the halloumi and tomato salad which was tasty but would have benefited from a drizzle of oil, whilst the others chose lamb kibbeh (minced lamb cracked wheat parcels) and sumac patata. The latter were probably the Lebanese equivalent of the Spanish tapas, patatas bravas, but looked a little boring although there were wolfed down.
For mains, we all chose a warm wrap platter: good value at £10.95. Two of us had them stuffed with chicken with a very yummy garlic sauce, pickled cucumber, lettuce and tomato whilst the third was full of tasty lamb mince. On the side was a small portion of hummous, a dressed salad and pickles.
To accompany our lunch we opted for a bottle of the Lebanese house white wine from the Bekaa Valley, again excellent value at £19.95 and so quaffable, we indulged in a second. Tap water was originally provided by the glass, but eventually we were given a jug.
We were then simply left, as nearly everyone had gone back to work. We had to ask for the menu again to choose desserts and having been handed them by one member of staff, another approached virtually immediately to take our order which was slightly irritating bearing in mind how long we’d been waiting. When she returned, we discovered the person handing us the menus had neglected to tell us that of the five desserts on offer, they only had mango and vanilla cheesecake and baklava. This was fine for two of us who were going to order the cheesecake but disappointing for the birthday girl who had her sights set on three scoops of ice cream. The cheesecake was fine, but the six pieces of baklava rather overwhelmed the birthday girl and a doggy bag was provided.
The tea and coffee process was not straightforward either. The birthday girl asked for simple mint tea (i.e. mint leaves and hot water) rather than the menu version with rose water, but it came with a tea bag as well. The earl grey arrived but we had to remind them about the milk. However, my flat white, served as ordered, was excellent.
Because of the slightly erratic service and lots of chat, we were shocked to check our watches and find we’d been in the restaurant for over 3 hours. On paying the bill, we remarked how busy it had been earlier and the waiter told us that it had been a relatively quiet shift for them, which was good as they were two people down. This may account for the service and why request number 2 was not achieved and the birthday went unrecognised.