What springs to mind when you think of Christmas dinner? Succulent turkey? Juicy pigs in blankets? Lashings of cranberry sauce? Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than a traditional Christmas dinner on the 25th December but when I heard that Middle Eastern restaurant Comptoir Libanais had revealed its own, unique festive menu, I couldn’t wait to try it.
Rather than focusing on gut busting food, Comptoir Libanais have decided to focus on the family and friends aspect of Christmas. For me, Christmas is all about sharing quality time with your loved ones and Comptoir Libanais have decided to reflect this in their latest menu.
Founder Tony Kitous has worked with his team of chefs to create a menu for the festive period that reflects the hospitality and warmth shown in homes across the Middle East, something that is very similar to what my family home is like at Christmas. The new menu is filled with delicious sharing dishes so that you all have the opportunity to taste the flavours of Lebanon together.
All dishes have been designed to incorporate the traditional flavours of Christmas, combining them with the fragrant herbs and spices of the Middle East.
First up were five mezze dishes to get us warmed up. These are THE reason I visit Comptoir Libanais time and time again. Mezze is something that I cannot find anywhere else…well, no one that does it as good as Comptoir. All the dishes are so rich in flavour and wonderfully light and healthy which is fantastic as you don’t feel too guilty afterwards. We had the opportunity to taste the creamy Hommos, Beetroot Labne, Falafel and Green Tahina, Tabbouleh and Turkey Kibbeh all served with pitta bread. I absolutely love Mezze because all guests in your party can really get stuck in, sharing each other’s food and piling your plates high with so many different flavours. The Hommos was rich and creamy as always and the Beetroot Labne was wonderfully smooth and fresh, perfect for dipping the pitta in.
My absolute favourite dish from the Mezze was the Turkey Kibbeh. Oh my goodness this is Christmas in a bite. These were minced turkey cracked wheat parcels filled with turkey, pine nuts and onions served with cranberries and mint yogurt sauce. The turkey and cranberry gave you all the flavours of your traditional Christmas dinner but the mint yogurt sauce was a fun twist. As it was really fresh, it cleansed your mouth really nicely afterwards so you were ready to go on to the next dish.
For my main course, I chose the Aubergine and Feta Shakshuka. Great for vegetarians, this was spicy tomato sauce and onions baked with aubergines and feta cheese, crispy onions and parsley. This was absolutely gorgeous and the perfect winter warmer. The thick tomato sauce mixed with the gooey cheese and soft aubergines made for the perfect comfort food and felt like I was being embraced in a warm hug! The dish was quite tangy thanks to the feta and was served piping hot.
Ollie went for the Lamb Kofta and Spiced Tahina served with vermicelli rice. For those who don’t know, Lamb Kofta are like long meatballs that have been cooked on a skewer. Comptoir were really generous with the meat with loads of Kofta topping the fluffy rice. Ollie commented that the dish was really rich and creamy, served piping hot with a mix of wonderful flavours that again, were so comforting.
For desert, we tasted the Spiced Christmas Rice Pudding and the Dark Chocolate and Red Rose Berries Cake. I’m not a fan of rice pudding as I really don’t like the consistency of it but I thought I had to at least try it as the flavours sounded so wonderful, just like Christmas in a bowl. Cinnamon, orange blossom, slow-cooked dates, figs, apricots and sultanas sprinkled with pistachio – what’s not to love there! The pudding didn’t disappoint and it tasted of all the things I love about winter and the festive period. The only thing I would suggest is to serve it warm. It was served cold and for me, that highlighted the texture and consistency that I don’t like about rice pudding. Luckily, we couldn’t eat it all so took it home and warmed it up – much better! That might just be personal preference though.
If you’re a chocolate fan, you have to choose the cake for pudding. It’s really rich and not sweet or sugary at all, which is perfect as you can really taste the flavours of the cocoa complimented by the mixed red berry compote. The portion size was massive so this is the perfect pudding for sharing.
By this point, I was so stuffed, just how you should feel after a Christmas feast! To finish, you’re served a refreshing Rose Mint Tea and Baklava. I wasn’t a huge fan of the tea as I don’t particularly like rose but Ollie loved it, commenting that it was the perfect drink to cleanse your pallet after a big meal. I was more than happy to finish the Baklava though. For anyone that has an insane sweet tooth, these are for you! They are rich, sweet dessert pastries made of layers of filo filled with chopped nuts and held together using syrup or honey. So, so sweet but so delicious.
Overall, we were truly impressed with Comptoir Libanais’ Christmas menu. It’s perfect for if you want to try something a little different this year but still keep the tradition of Christmas food alive. The staff were wonderful, making us feel really welcome and the Manager took the time to explain all the different dishes to us, even recommending his personal favourites. They were all so easy to talk to and couldn’t do enough for us.
The Lebanese Christmas Feast is £24.95 per person (how insanely good is that for all that food?!) and you can view the menu by clicking here.
Have you tried the new Christmas Feast at Comptoir Libanais yet? What did you think? Leave me a comment below!
*I was invited to Comptoir Libanais for a complimentary meal in exchange for this honest review.