Comptoir Libanais is a place where everyone can enjoy real Lebanese and Middle Eastern home-cooking in humble and friendly surroundings. To create such a place has been the dream of founder, Tony Kitous, since he first came to London almost 20 years ago. He knew from those early days that he had found his new home and his purpose in life. It started with owning his first restaurant but soon blossomed into a mission to one day make Middle Eastern food as popular as Italian food.
Comptoir Libanais is well on its way in this regard as there are currently 23 restaurants around the country, including Manchester, Bath, Leeds, Reading, Birmingham, Oxford and Exeter as well as other branches opening nationwide over the coming months. Comptoir Libanais also has a branch in Holland and is in the process of expanding further internationally, with restaurants in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Wherever Comptoir Libanais goes however, the ethos remains, for as Tony always says, “Food brings us together.” In fact, he believes that it “brings people together, much closer than anything else.” This stems from how much food was a part of his upbringing and how much it is a part of the lives of everyone brought up in an Arab and Berber culture. “Eating food offers a chance to be with friends and family, to talk and laugh and celebrate and share the latest news.” That is why he and the team are proud to encourage sharing style food at Comptoir, such as their new feasting set menu which showcases all of their favourites, from Baba Ghanuj and Beetroot labne to an eight hour cooked Aubergine Tagine and generously portioned Mixed Grill.
Apart from encouraging a feasting style at the table, Comptoir also ensures that the food they serve can be enjoyed by everyone which is why 30% of the menu is now vegan and over 55% of the menu is vegetarian. This was a natural thing for them to do as many Middle Eastern dishes are naturally vegetarian. The inclusivity of Comptoir extends to their Children’s menu. Alongside an activity pack and colouring in section, the extensive and versatile menu is priced at £5.95 and includes a main course, drink and dessert with favourites such as Grilled halloumi, falafel and hommos and Chicken wings with hommos and Lebanese fries. From the drinks menu, the freshly squeezed juices are popular with all, while the unique range of Lebanese wines is always an enjoyable talking point amongst the adults.
Comptoir Libanais is known for providing food that is fresh, healthy, honest and affordable, for any day of the week and any occasion. Their colourful salads and freshly rolled warm wraps are popular as takeaway lunches for office workers, but where the restaurant truly celebrates its roots and culture is through its spread of fresh, vibrant salads and vegetables, grilled and slow-cooked meats, steamed couscous, pickles, dips, olives and of course their desserts, baklava and tea. As Tony always says, “You will never leave an Arabic table hungry!”.
Founded in 2008, the name Comptoir Libanais means Lebanese Counter, as it is a place where everyone can eat casually and enjoy authentic Middle Eastern food, served with warm and friendly hospitality, just like back home. Comptoir Libanais has recently released their latest cookbook, Feasts from the Middle East, which shares recipes from Tony’s childhood, handed down to him by his mother, the source of all his inspiration.