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COMPTOIR LIBANAIS: A Vegan Feast

Thanks to an ever-increasing demand and the popularity of Veganuary, restaurants big and small are noticeably developing more new and exciting vegan menu options. Exeter’s Comptoir Libanais is no different, adding a mighty ‘Vegan Feast For Two’ to their colourful repertoire. Tuck into four mezze dishes, two mains, a dessert and a pot of soothing mint tea – all for the very reasonable price of £19.95.

A self-described ‘Lebanese canteen,’ Comptoir Libanais serve up light, wholesome dishes inspired by Middle Eastern cuisine in a bright and bold setting. We headed in to try their Veganuary showstopper with suitably empty stomachs, and were welcomed into the restaurant in Exeter’s Queen Street Dining quarter during a bustling but calm early Saturday lunchtime slot. As the cheerful staff delivered our dishes to the table, the relaxed bustle quickly evolved into a packed restaurant, with hungry shoppers taking up every seat around us. The platter of food we were presented with looked almost too good to eat. Garnished delicately, with pops of vivid colour, we expected nothing less considering our stunning surroundings.

Featuring in the mezze you’ll find pitta bread to dip into the beautifully bright beetroot hummus, a handful of crispy falafels, smooth and creamy baba ghanoush, and a bowl of freekeh salad – a refreshing mix of smoked green wheat, tomato and spring onion, with an apple vinegar and mint dressing.

Headlining this fresh feast are two main dishes in the form of an aubergine tagine and a roasted pumpkin and quinoa salad. The comforting warmth of the tagine contrasts to the lighter salad, but both are equally enriching.

A rose coconut mouhalabia delighted our palates at the end of the meal, and was a nice alternative to the typical vegan chocolate brownie. This pretty Lebanese pudding, made with coconut milk, closed the feast perfectly with its intriguing floral sweetness, accompanied by a relaxing pot of fresh mint tea.

Well-balanced and full of a variety of unique flavours, the spread was a delicious and thoughtfully-chosen mix of textures. For taste buds more used to pizza every Saturday night, Comptoir’s vegan feast was an exciting exploration of a very different cuisine, which left us feeling gratified but not gorged. But if, like us, you struggle to polish off all of it, Comptoir will pop any leftovers into handy containers for you to enjoy at home later for feast round two!

While Comptoir Libanais have several vegetarian dishes that can easily be adapted to be vegan with the guidance of helpful and knowledgable staff, explicit VG options are something their menu is definitely missing – especially when several of their high street competitors go as far as having entirely separate vegetarian and vegan menus. The Vegan Feast is available until the end of March, shortly after which Comptoir will be looking at a menu revamp – hopefully with successful sales from this new dedicated vegan offering, it’ll be a plant-based revamp…

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