We love food, especially exotic food or ones which have an interesting array of flavours and very rich in culture. We have walked passed Comptoir Libanais in Manchester a few times but have never had the opportunity to stop by to try their food. So when we were extended an invitation to head to their restaurant strategically located in Spinningfields to do a food review, we could not say no. Comptoir Libanais can be directly translated as Lebanese Canteen or Counter and is the brainchild of Tony Kitous who has been trying to make Middle Eastern food more glamorous. He now has 24 restaurants with the Spinning Fields Branch in Manchester being the most recent restaurant to be opened. The restaurant looks very inviting from the outside and when we walked in, we were totally besotted with the colour, designs, patterns lights, deco, music as well as the fantastic array of clay pots and Lebanese food products on sale at their restaurant. For a moment, we could not believe that we were actually in Manchester and felt like we were in a far away foreign land. Keep reading to find out what we thought about their Christmas Menu which they will be serving this month at all their restaurants.
Soon as we stepped into their restaurants, we immediately spotted a vintage movie poster, of the amazing Arabic actress, Sirine Jamal al Dine. Sirine’s smile can be found adorning the walls, menus and takeaway packaging across all of the restaurants, having become the glamorous beacon of the brand. With brilliant red and brushed-chrome industrial stools, bold-patterned turquoise tables and monochrome geometric flooring, the restaurant is bold and stunning! We also loved the decorative ceramic tiles which are featured throughout the restaurants.
There were so many things on sale at the restaurants from teas, clay items, pastries, sweets, Tony’s three cookbooks which he has written as well as traditional Lebanese decorations.
We would totally recommend having an Iced rose mint tea which is so unique and flavoursome with your meal, this would cost £2.95 for a medium or £3.75 for a large glass.
We were served a selection of little serving platters of mezze/starter dishes which looked very appetising and tasted even better. The Beetroot Labne was so pretty to look at! Made with natural strained yoghurt with beetroot tahina, garlic and virgin olive oil and went perfectly well with flatbread.
The Turkey Kibbeh was lovely and flavourful… the wheat parcels were filled with minced turkey fillings, pine nuts and onions, cranberries and this came with a mint yoghurt sauce. Each of the dippings served in the mezze was really delicious and brought a different flavour and lifted the dish even more. We found it was nicer to eat the Kibbeh on its own as you could taste the flavours better.
We ordered extra Mocktails with our food, the Marrakesh (Passion fruit puree, pomegranate molasses & apple juice) tasted sweeter while Mazouza (Pineapple, lychee juice, peach puree & a touch of lemon) tasted slightly more on the sour side, both costing £6.25 which is so worth it as the glasses were huge!! The drinks again were delicious and flavoursome ….complimenting our food in so many levels. If you are having cocktails, they only start serving this from 12noon.
Falafel & Green Tahina, Hommous, Flatbread and Beetroot Labne
The Hommos was made from a chickpea puree with tahina and lemon juice. This tasted really lovely but mild in taste, it would have been nicer if the there was more tahina or garlic in the hommos to give it an extra kick. Falafel & Green Tahina was really moreish, the falafel was flavoursome and moist inside while the green tahina was our favourite dip coupled with the pickled green chillies which tasted not too spicy at all. The falafel is made with green chickpeas patties, coriander, parsley and garlic was really crunchy. The mezzes came in small portions, perfect for sharing.
The Tabbouleh was our favourite mezze as it was just amazing, we eat a lot of salad and this tasted so fresh and inviting. Made with chopped parsley, quinoa, tomatoes, mint and onions with lemon and finished with an olive oil dressing. The dish is so healthy and to describe it in one word – Fresh! The olive oil and lemon dressing gave the salad a nice sharpness.
Comptoir Libanais have an open kitchen concept so you can pop over to see the Chef, Alaa in action.
A shot of us with all the food as well as Tony’s Cookbook on our table.
For mains, we had a choice of Harrissa & Baby Chicken, Lamb Kofta & Spiced Tahina, Salmon Shakshuka or Aubergine & Feta Shaksukha, we decided to go with the Harrissa & Baby Chicken and Lamb Kofta & Spiced Tahina. The baby Chicken was marinated in harissa and roasted with spiced potatoes. The chicken was really tender, moist and tasted delicious, adding sesame seeds to it, gave the dish an extra edge. The chicken dish was paired with the spicy potatoes which we totally loved. This would be our dish to re-order when we head there again.
For our second mains, we ordered the Lamb Kofta & Spice Tahina, the lamb was charcoal grilled to perfection and served with vermicelli rice. The rice was well cooked and not sticky at all. The crispy onions, fresh tomatoes, yoghurt and spices just elevated the dish even more and made it really special. We personally would have loved more lamb to the rice portions served.
Staff were friendly and happy to stop and chat with us and never tired of our questions about the food, origin or about the restaurant itself.
The food at Comptoir is fresh, healthy, honest and affordable. Their meat is Halal and they prepare their food fresh everyday. It’s homemade food which will bring you back home (to the middle east) if you were born there. We also loved the stylish plates and cutlery as it was totally different and unique. Comptoir Libanais serve a variety of Lebanese breakfasts to eat in or take away such as organic yoghurt topped with pomegranate and orange blossom water, porridge and smoked salmon and scrambled eggs on brioche. For lunch, they serve their guests with interesting and colourful dishes such as hot and cold mezze, perfectly sized for sharing, wraps, salads, tagines, grills and Mana’esh (Lebanese style pizzas). For dessert, nothing is more authentic than the sweet taste of baklawa – Lebanese pastries in a variety of flavours such as date filled semolina and walnut filled flaky pastry.
For Desserts, we were first served with Dark Chocolate & Red Rose Berries Cake. From the first mouthful, you know its not your everyday chocolate cake, the strong flavours of cardamon and red berries compote can be tasted. We were not very keen on the texture of the cake, with it being a little bit wet due to the compote but the flavours of the cake and the natural sour yoghurt did complement each other.
Our next dessert was literally ‘to die for’! The Spiced Christmas Rice Pudding was really delish and so moreish. The creamy orange blossom rice was perfectly cooked with cinnamon, dates, figs, apricots & sultanas and sprinkled with pistachios. You could taste the different layers of flavours in this dish and it is so worth trying it, it would make your traditional English Pudding taste so ordinary.
We finished off dessert with a serving of Rose Mint Tea and Baklawa served by Ahmed, who started of as a Chef and now takes care of the front of house. He was surely entertaining us with his stories and sharing with us how Comptoir Libanais strives to cater to the whole family as they know how important family is.
How much does the Lebanese Christmas Feast Menu cost and when is it until?
The whole Lebanese Christmas Feast Menu only costs £24.95 per person and this will be on until Christmas Eve.
About Comptoir Libanais
Tony Kitous is the man credited with putting the glamour into Middle East cuisine and providing the people of the Western World the opportunity to experience real, wholesome and healthy Lebanese food in a souk-like setting. Comptoir Libanais means ‘Lebanese counter’ and that’s exactly what it is: somewhere you can eat casually, with no fuss. The first Comptoir opened its doors in 2008 and has been steadily growing 2015 and has seen them open their doors to their first Comptoir outside of Greater London which is Manchester.
Where is Comptoir Libanais?
18-19 The Avenue
Manchester M3 3HF
Tel: 0161 672 3999
What are their opening hours?
Monday – Thursday 10am until 11pm
Friday and Saturday 10am until 12am
Sunday 10am until 10pm
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*We were invited to sample the food at Comptoir Libanais, all opinions are our own.