Friends, I am here to tell you about some very delicious Lebanese food that my friend Vicki and I shovelled most enthusiastically into our gobs over the weekend. Veganuary brings more and more excitement each year these days, with new products and whole ranges being announced across coffee shops, supermarkets, and well known bakery chains…. But also temporary menu items, or even permanent menu items debuted during January.
I received this delicious lunch in exchange for writing a review on the blog, however, all the thoughts and opinions expressed in this blog post are 100% mine yo!!
Recently the kind folks at Comptoir got in touch to ask if I’d like to sample their vegan January specials and being someone who thinks the aubergine is an entirely underrated vegetable, of course I said YES PLEASE.
Comptoir has restaurants up and down the UK, from Leeds to Exeter, (and further afield), with beautifully vibrant interiors that match the vivid colours of the food on the menu. What could very well be a dull vegetable tagine is jewelled with pomegranate, and the baked aubergine slices are peppered with a coriander and pistachio topping giving a bright green (and very tasty) bit of decoration. But more of that anon…
The permanent menu has a number of labelled vegan options, something that was once a luxury for vegans, and so is much appreciated these days. There’s also an extensive drinks menu with many wines, cocktails, mocktails, and the usual beer/spirit/soft drink selection.
Vicki and I were served the vegan flavours of the month. A smooth, creamy, dreamy homemade hommos with a large falafel in the centre and just the right amount of harissa dressing. Some teeny cubes of pickled turnip also offer a refreshing crunch. The main event was a mouthwateringly rich slow-cooked tagine, with generous aubergine chunks (melty in the mouth), chickpeas, and a thick and aromatic sauce. All this atop the traditional Lebanese rice and vermicelli, also a treat. I was particularly fond of the tagine for not being at all (hot) spicy. The flavours were so rich in and of themselves that adding spice would’ve been a disappointing “It’s Veggie So Let’s Throw Loads Of Chilli In” move. It didn’t need any heat and was perfect as it was!
Finally, the baked aubergine was also deliciously melty-in-the-mouth. I loved the pistachio crunch of the topping, and the pomegranate sprinkled atop both the tagine and the aubergine was a welcome sweet and juicy interlude between mouthfuls.
We were very impressed with the yumminess of the food and the generosity of the portions. I hadn’t eaten a thing all morning in preparation for the feast, and Vicki tells me she only had a crumpet. But we were both very satisfied and rolled on home to lie on our left sides and appreciate all the vegetables we just put into our bodies once we were done.
I loved the vibrant interior of the restaurant too, and the wee shop area where you can buy books, cookware, bags, and other bits and bobs.
I definitely recommend that you check out your local Comptoir Libanais if you have one, particularly during January so you can sample the special vegan offerings! But even if not, there is plenty on the menu for you to feast on. I’m definitely eyeing up the vine leaves for next time…
In the meantime I was so inspired that I’m planning on cookin’ up an aubergine tagine ASAP, and I might even give the vermicelli rice a go because that stuff is GOOD.
How’s about you, friends? Do you enjoy a bit of Middle Eastern cuisine? If so, what’s your very favourite dish or recipe?