A MUST TRY DINING EXPERIENCE
You could be well be forgiven for walking passed Comptoir Libanais in the Trinity Centre.
Situated next to the Everyman cinema, for a long time its exterior looked like a shop, but now the shelves have been removed and the floor to ceiling windows enable a glimpse of an exciting Lebanese and Middle Eastern food restaurant.
From the outside it look quite small but step inside and you are in for a surprise. There is lots of seating and the décor is typical of the country’s style – bright and vibrant.
This is an ideal place to sample the country’s cuisine and is a real contemporary alternative to the casual dining scene in the city with a menu loaded with healthy but tempting dishes.
I must admit that I usually steer well away from spicy and hot food except in the line of duty to speak – but if you choose carefully from the plethora of dishes there is a lot to satisfy those who prefer something not too heavily spiced.
The menu is very descriptive of each dish and the staff are well versed in giving advice to the customers about the various dishes.
Whilst we looked at the menu, we indulged in a Side Mezze of pickled cucumbers, turnips in beetroot juice – which were absolutely delicious and mild green chillies with some marinated Damascus olives.
For starters we chose to share a Mezze Platter, which I must say is more than adequate for two as a starter, but if you wish to have this as a main then one each needs to be ordered.
Like our side Mezze this was vegan. It included Hommos, a very smooth chickpea puree with tahina and lemon juice, Baba Ghanuj, a tasty smoked aubergine puree, with garlic, lemon and pomegranate seeds. There was also a Natural Labne – a strained yoghurt with garlic, tahina, olives, mint and extra virgin oil. All this was served with flatbread and pickles.
The Mezze Platter was excellent value and a great way to start your meal. There’s no rush and Lebanese food is great for sharing as enables you to share the experience with your dining companion.
For my main I chose Spinach Fatayer, again a vegan dish. This was a baked pastry filled with spinach, feta cheese, sumac. Also in the Fatayer were pomegranate seeds and molasses, onions and pine nuts, which gave the dish a fusion of different flavours. It was served with, what is now my favourite dish on the menu Fattoush Salad. This is a Lebanese village salad with sumac and olive oil, pita crisps and a wonderful pomegranate and molasses dressing.
This can be ordered as a dish on its own and I am certain I will be back next time I am in town to sample this salad, that is truly like no other.
My partner went for the Spiced Lamb Kofta. It came beautifully presented and the meat was succulent and tender with the flavours of the herbs, onion and spices bringing out the flavour of the lamb. Served with a moist rice this dish was one to savour.
I had just enough room to tackle a dessert and went for the Orange Blossom Mouhalabia, a traditional Lebanese milk pudding with a date, fig, apricot, prune and sultana compote. This is really a heavenly light dessert that is like no other, resembling a milk jelly the compote gives it flavour.
My partner and I really found discovering the Lebanese culinary art exciting. Although we have both travelled the world and tasted numerous different cuisines we had never experienced Lebanese food like served at Comptoir Libanais.
The restaurant with its brightly coloured chairs, décor and tables makes you feel good and it’s a great place for meeting friends, enjoying quality time over a meal with family or a romantic meal with a difference.
Comptoir Libanais (27 Albion Street, Leeds) Trinity Shopping Centre next door to Everyman Cinema. Tel: 0113 350 9751
Open Monday to Saturday 11.00am-10.pm. Sundays 11.00am-9pm.