Guildhall Shopping Centre, Queen St, Exeter EX4 3HP
Three years after it opened, the Exeter branch of Lebanese restaurant chain Comptoir Libanis has established itself as a solid player in the city’s ever expanding food empire.
Arriving for lunch in the Guildhall Centre on a grey early October afternoon, we might have expected the restaurant to be deserted. Not a bit of it. There was a busy, pleasant, family friendly atmosphere and some well-behaved pre-school children sat near us, many wearing Fezs on their heads, which I presume had been given out specially (just like that?).
The food: For starters, we were recommended the Mezze Platter., for me and my wife to share. This consisted of hommos, baba ghanuj, tabbouleh, falafel, natural labné, cheese samboussek, flatbread and pickles. Every aspect of this was pleasant and as I am a nut allergy sufferer, I was especially appreciative of the staff’s sensitivity when I enquired about this.
I am generally quite a messy eater (the party of children I mentioned before, probably left less debris behind than I typically do. I thus went for a relatively safe option: a burger, specifically a Lebanese Lamb and Halloumi burger consisting of char-grilled lamb kofta burger with grilled halloumi, tahina, harrisa mayonnaise, tomato, pickled cucumber, served with Lebanese spiced potatoes.
We live in age where high quality burgers have become almost the norm. This one certainly really hit the spot. I soon found myself calculating how much bread I needed to sacrifice to ensure I could manage all of the main event.
Not for the first time, my wife chose well too, opting for Chicken Taouk: marinated grilled chicken breast with garlic sauce, pickled cucumber and tomato. I was soon in the weird position of envying her choice while simultaneously being pleased with my own selection.
Our only error? We had by now eaten far too much to even contemplate a dessert. The starter alone would have satisfied many people.
Still, never mind: we are sure to come to Comptoir Libanais again.