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17 January 2018


i'm already a fan of comptoir libanais, that's not news, but what is "new" is that 1. i'm trying really hard to eat a vegan diet, and 2. the middle eastern restaurant chain has a big fat vegan feast menu running for the whole of january, to show support for the super popular nation-wide veganuary campaign. the feast is basically a sharing menu for two, and contains a variety of much-loved dishes, all with a vegan twist - for a super affordable price of £19.95. less than a tenner for three courses of tasty, lebanese food? vegan or not, i was in. i grabbed my trusty vegan pal luisa, and off we went.

the vegan feasting menu is perfect for those kicking off their veganuary journey, and it is exactly what it claims to be: a feast. it begins with starters of beetroot and tahina hommos, fresh garlic and broad bean falafel and tahina sauce, a traditional freekeh of smoked green wheat, wild rocket, vine tomato, spring onion, apple vinegar, and mint dressing, and a baba ghanuj of smoked aubergine, tahina (what ever is tahina, anyway?), and lemon juice with pomegranate seeds to dress, all served with fresh and homemade pita bread. yes, all of that is just to start; see what i mean about a feast? the beetroot hommos and falafel were my absolute faves, and that says a lot because i don't even like falafel. the flavours of the mixture were so fresh and not at all dry, and the tahina dip was an added burst of creamy flavour - the perfect way to start a meal!

the feasting continued when the server added another two dishes to our already-full table. an absolutely banging aubergine tagine that blew my socks off was the absolute highlight of my life, and was so "meaty" that it was so hard to believe it was actually vegan. the baked baby aubergine was served in a rich tomato and chickpea sauce on a bed of wild rice, with a garnish of fresh tomato and parsley. i just about ate the whole thing to myself - poor luisa, but it was that good i just didn't want to share. plus, the second dish - the quinoa and pumpkin salad, was full of spring onion so i couldn't eat it sadly. luisa seemed a big fan of the dish (minus the pomes, as she's not a fan of those), though i honestly doubt anything could have topped that tagine.

dessert was a bit of a fail, though, which is a shame as we were pretty full but wanted to give it a go. the rose coconut mouhalabia milk pudding is a traditional lebanese pudding flavoured with rose syrup and coconut, and topped with pistachios. now, that all sounds good on paper, but.. it did not work for me. it was the texture of jelly, but milky. milky jelly just isn't my jam, you know? the pistachios were nice, though. as was the fresh mint tea that it was served with. if you're a fan of turkish delight or milky puddings, you might just like this mouhalabia.. we just didn't.

it didin't matter, because we were stuffed anyway. the wonderful thing about middle eastern food is that it lends itself to being very vegetarian to start with, thanks to the importance of vegetables and chickpeas in their diet, and the emphasis on healthy eating. it's a good way to be, really, and after a few weeks of my new plant-based lifestyle, i can't imagine why more cuisines don't follow suit. i'm a big fan of comptoir lebanese, and will deffffinitely be back for that tagine soon - vegan menu or not, it's a goodun.

*our meal was complimentary, but all words are my own.

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