School holidays. Lunch. What to do? My kids are creatures of habit and if we’re in Brum around lunchtime they hanker after Yo Soshi, or more recently Tonkotsu. But in the interest of introducing them to new stuff we headed to Comptoir Libanais for a bit of Middle Eastern tucker.
Firstly, the decor is one of the most Instagrammable in the city, up there with the Ivy and Tattu, and the staff are just perfect. Warm, helpful, happy and just the right amount of attentive.
We slurped iced fresh rose mint tea which was very sweet but delicious while we got to grips with the menu. Speaking of which, it’s extensive and there’s definitely something for everyone even for meat-free moi.
A mixed mezze platter seemed a good starting point although we realised we’d over-ordered pretty quickly as this was a meal in itself. A plate heaving with houmous, baba ghanuj, quinoa tabbouleh, falafel, lebna, cheese samboussek (think mini cheesy pasties), flatbread and pickles (cucumbers, fuchsia pink turnips marinated in beetroot juice and mild green chillies) appeared. It was brilliant. Granted I was more of a fan of the tabbouleh than the small people, but what do they know? It was packed with flavour, fresh herbs and a ton of your five a day. Loved it. Houmous and flatbread, falafel, baba ghanuj and lebna went down a treat with big and small people. The only weak link was the samboussek which had little or no filling. The kids improvised and used them as a vehicle to scoop up lebna into their hungry mouths.
If you’re a carnivore, I suspect the mixed grill and lamb dishes are tremendous and looking round the buzzing restaurant on a Monday lunchtime – yes buzzing on a Monday – it all looked cracking. I went for a spinach fatayer which was an enormous round pie essentially filled with spinach, feta, molasses, pine nuts and middle eastern spicing. I loved it although after the mezze feast it was a bit much. The accompanying fattoush salad was zingy, fresh and everything you want from a side dish. One of the rugrats ordered a harissa spiced chicken taouk burger which she enjoyed hugely. It was probably more spiced than she’s used to, but she devoured it. The Lebanese potatoes it came with were properly good – think roasties, but gently spiced. Number two ordered something pretty similar, chicken taouk wrap with marinated grilled chicken breast, garlic sauce, pickled cucumber and tomato which was really tasty. The flavours in every dish were big and the over-riding impression of the place, including the décor, was bold in the best possible way.
Dessert really wasn’t an option as we’d eaten our own body weight in tahini, however we took a box of baklava home for later which we thoroughly recommend. The fact the place was packed on a Monday lunchtime speaks volumes. We’ll be back.