Whilst Bath is home to some fine restaurants, the visit to Comptoir Libanais proved to be an experience that shattered my own expectations of what Bath has to offer. Having been open for just over a month, the Bath branch is the 17th in the chain spanning from London all the way to Manchester and with the number of customers they have been getting, this success will not stop for a while.
To begin, the customer service was one that you would expect only in gourmet restaurants. Our server, Olivia, whose extensive knowledge of the menu brought familiarity and the ability to empathise with this particular style of cuisine, was exceptionally informative and friendly. Who knew that tahini was such a versatile ingredient! The manager was also very active not just with us but with the rest of those being served in the restaurant and was very experienced having worked in multiple branches in London.
The bright colours and lighting were also a welcome relief from the harsh conditions outside. We were also made aware that the atmosphere in the evening was even more ambient, with candles and dim lighting illuminating the restaurant. Derived from the authenticity of a Middle Eastern Bazar, the walls and ceiling were brimming with Lebanese merchandise bringing a sense Middle Eastern Feng Shui to the restaurant. It was almost easy to become distracted from the menu to all the visual delights that decorated the restaurant including portraits, mosaic styled panelling as well as an array of lights hanging from the ceiling. This atmosphere was only slightly counterbalanced by the many English speakers that graced the restaurant with their presence.
It is very easy for that cacophony of sound to ruin the meal but it was as though the owner had taken that into consideration too, as we never found ourselves having to raise our voices despite the busy time of day.
Yet for all the good things said about the restaurant’s setting, none of it comes close to the food. The menu itself is typically Middle Eastern with a wide variety of wraps and gourmet dishes as well as an interesting collection of cocktails and other drinks. Vegetarians and vegans will also be glad to hear that Comptoir Libanais will more than just cater to their needs! But the quality of the food is where the real battle was won. The portion sizes perfect, the taste exquisite and the extra knowledge that all that was eaten was fresh food from that same day. The pastries may have been imported from London but one could easily ignore that fact especially considering the thought that has gone into the process such as the mix of typical Western pastry with Middle Eastern ingredients and seasoning.
Whilst I would recommend it to students, you must bear in mind that you will be served great food in well sized portions with great customer service so it won’t necessarily be a cheap evening- but it is far from excessively priced. It is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion, particularly when you are looking to be spoilt- whether that be a date, a birthday, a girls lunch or even a precursor to a night out. For those who are lucky enough to go, do not miss out for it is fast growing into one of the most popular restaurant in all of Bath.