I’m apparently an eighth Lebanese, so I’ve always figured that’s why I enjoy a bit of Lebanese food. Lucky for me then, that Comptoir Libanais is handily round the corner from my new office. Billed as a Lebanese canteen, Comptoir Libanais is the brainchild of owner Tony Kitous, who aims to bring fresh, healthy Middle Eastern cuisine to the Western world. He has a few venues but this is the Soho one, on Broadwick Street.
The face you’ll see on the walls and menus is Arabic actress Sirine Jamal al Dine, and along with the bright, colourful decor, is meant to be cheery and welcoming, and with all the quirky products you can buy it does have a vague feel of a souk, which is what they intend with the design. It certainly makes it bright and buzzy, and keeps it casual, as if you’re eating in a swanky market somewhere.
I went with a fairly big group so we had a lot of food – it was all laid out on the table like a banquet; fatoush, chicken and lamb tagines, mezze and halloumi salads, platters of meatballs and falafel, piles of houmous and babaganoush. The flavours are light with lots of olive oil, lemon, sumac and lots of parsley among other things. It feels and tastes fresh and healthy and I’m fully intending to go back for lunch.
The staff are extremely helpful, explaining everything on the menu and bending over backwards for a non-dairy member of the group. My only tiny moan would be the house wine – definitily not great with a strong acidic aftertaste, the white in particular. But then I should’ve branched out and not been cheap! Next time..