First Impressions of the Vegan Options: Comptoir Libanais

I love Lebanese food, as you guys know by now, I frequently visit my local Lebanese places for their falafel, hummus and generally amazing vegan options. This is why it was good to hear that a Lebanese place was going to take over Birmingham City Centre, in Grand Central to be exact. As always I was intrigued to see what their vegan offerings would be at Comptoir Libanais and how their would fare in comparison to others such as Al Bader and Damascena. I remember visiting and enjoying the food at the eatery when I was in Westfield in London but I was eating meat at the time, so I had high hopes.

So, we visited on the same week of the eateries opening, so it was of course rammed full of people. This meant that service was slow in seating us or even recognising our reservation, annoying, but they were friendly. For drinks, I picked a lemonade (Toufaha) and my mum, aka my ultimate plus one, picked the Carrot and Ginger juice. Neither of us were enthused by these drinks, they were both a little lacklustre and not worth the price, which appears to be a theme with this eatery.

For the food, we decided to go for a Mezze Platter for 2 (£16.95) to share for our starter. It contained 2 falafels, baba ghanuj, hommos, tabbouleh, freekah salad, pickles and warm pitta bread. It normally also contains grilled halloumi but this was omitted as I asked it to be vegan. However, nothing was given as a substitute. When I visited a branch at London Gatwick, after this visit, they gave me a second falafel in the Mezze Platter for one. So, they can definitely offer a substitute. So that feeling of having less for your money stuck. The standout item in this Mezze Platter was the freekah salad. It was amazing with the warm pitta bread and dips. The rest of the dish was tasty but mediocre. Damascena and Al Bader offer better and at a cheaper price but no one offers the freekah. I would go back for that but maybe not for the platter. It needs more falafel for sure! I'd probably order the freekah salad by itself with muhammara, batata harra or falafel and hommos next time.

My mum went for the Lebanese Lamb and Halloumi Burger, which came with Batata Harra (£3.45). It was tasty and nice, but again, it was lacking that x factor. My mother felt the same about the burger, lacklustre and just OK. She's been back without me, as if!, and mentioned she had Roasted Chicken Moussakhan. She found it to be dry, low quality and overpriced. She doesn't hold back, that's for sure.

For my main, I went for the Aubergine Tagine (£9.50). I like that they have a aubergine option on their menu and that without yogurt, it can be vegan. However, I found it to be quite sweet but I enjoyed it with quinoa instead of cous cous. I've tried tagines in Marrakech and saw how good they could be, especially how good they make the vegetables. In comparison, this was again lacklustre, which is a shame because this could be an amazing vegan option.

Overall, my experience at Comptoir Libanais was lacklustre. This may have been because they are brand new and need time to settle in to deliver properly. Right now, I have no desire to go back but I will revisit in 6 months or so. As Tamatanga completely changed my mind 6 months later so I don't see why Comptoir Libanais can't do the same.

Would I go back? Not right now. I very much think the same as my mother.

Why? I could find similar vegan options that are better and in a place that isn't too busy.

How did they cope with the vegan dietary requirement? Vegan options are not labelled on the menu and staff need more training to be able to give you alternatives. However, you can find out the vegan options on their online menu.

What are the prices like? Not as good as Damascena but not bad for city centre prices. The Mezze Platter, Aubergine Tagine, my mother's burger and our drinks would have made this meal around £45.

What is eatery best for? A quick lunch with a friend

Have you been? What did you think?

**This meal was complimentary, however my views are my own**

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