Eating Out West Midlands

Comptoir Libanais, Grand Central Birmingham

10th July 2018

I had Lee’s birthday day out planned down to the finest detail. Breakfast at Scotts of Harborne, an early film at Everyman cinema, a quick nip round ghetto golf with a cocktail and then a late lunch at Bonehead before whipping back to pick up Imogen from nursery. It was going so so well, before we tuned up at Bonehead at 3pm on a Wednesday to find out they didn’t open until 4. Someone hadn’t done their research properly. That someone was me.

We stood in the drizzle on John Bright Street feeling rather forlorn. We really wanted fried chicken. But it wasn’t to be, so we headed into the sanctuary of grand central to placate our selves with some average Yo! Sushi.

It’s been a while since I was in Grand Central, so when we noticed the brightly coloured jewelled exterior of Comptoir Libanais we were drawn in. Shockingly, it wasn’t somewhere we knew anything about at all (I know!) but a quick google showed us it was indeed a chain of Lebanese Canteens, and fast growing one at that. Nevertheless, the pull of some hopefully tasty falafel and meze were calling.

We took our seats int he brightly coloured interior and had a look through the menu. It could probably be described as middle eastern food for the masses, quite obviously designed to please everyone rather than necessarily be authentic, with meze items, wraps, salads, tanginess and grills. We decided to try one of their grills between us and a few meze items alongside. Our meal consisted of a Mixed Grill  –  a selection of lamb kofta, chicken kofta and chicken taouk although they didn’t tell us they had no chicken kofta when we ordered so the dish turned up with extra lamb kofta instead and no real hint of an apology for this. We also tried the flooring from the Meze menu

Fattoush – Baby gem lettuce, cherry tomatoes, mint & parsley, with toasted pita bread, fresh pomegranate & sumac dressing

Falafel – Chickpea patties, coriander, parsley, garlic & peppers, served with tahina sauce

Batata Harra  – Lebanese spiced fries with red pepper, fresh coriander, garlic & chilli

Halloumi & Tomato  – Grilled halloumi marinated in wild thyme, with sliced tomatoes, olives & fresh mint

Overall it was a pretty mixed bag I would say. The Lamb kofta was on the dry side and could have been much more flavoursome. The chicken taouk was actually pretty good, moist and really sang of the advertised garlic and thyme flavours. I enjoyed the fattoush salad, with its zing of mint and pomegranate but disliked the limp potato dish would have been so much more.

The flavours of the salty olives and fresh tomato  on halloumi were nice, but the halloumi itself sliced very thinnly and therefore rather disintegrated which isn’t really what you want. My husband, who is much more of an authority than me on this type of food having lived in Israel for the best part of 5 years enjoyed the falafel and said that it reminded him of that which he ate when out there in Sarid.

So in summary, a pleasant meal but lacked in some areas on both flavour and execution. Not one I would rush back to in a hurry, especially when there are others in the city doing it so much better.

Family Friendly? We didn’t have Imogen with us on this occasion, but may have struggled if we did, as the toilets were out of action, having to go all the way across grand central to the nearest and, like many of the grand central restaurants, it was a bit cramped to get a pram in with ease. 

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