Comptoir Libanais – The Souk comes to town
Re-creating all the exotic colourful ambience and flavours of the Middle East in a souk-like setting, Lebanese food specialist Comptoir Libanais celebrates two new openings in Bath and Exeter.
With interiors created by Moxon Design, these are the brand’s first branches outside London, extending Comptoir Libanais’ wider UK footprint. The 242 square metre Exeter site is in the new Queen Street dining quarter, offering 180 covers across three internal and external spaces.
The 170-cover Bath restaurant is part of the new Little Southgate food quarter in the city centre.
Offering fresh, healthy and affordable Lebanese dishes, in a setting with a Middle Eastern café feel, Comptoir Libanais is the brainchild of founder and creative director Tony Kitous. He says: “Comptoir Libanais means ‘Lebanese counter’ and that’s exactly what it is: somewhere you can eat casually, with no fuss. You don’t have to sacrifice comfort, style or authenticity of food just because the dining is casual.”
“We offer our food in ‘fun’, friendly surroundings which are very much a reflection of the ambience and hospitality of the Middle Eastern home, garden and souk, as well as Lebanese culture, which has a lot to offer in terms of both food and hospitality. Although this is the general experience, each restaurant is subtly adapted to suit its individual location.”
The Bath venue is located next to the railway station and is the only Lebanese restaurant in what is a very beautiful city. The restaurant is on a single level and all the authentic appeal of a souk in Cairo, Istanbul or Marrakesh, including kitchenware, homeware, spices, rosewater, hanging lamps and sweet treats.
“Guest feedback on the recent Bath opening has been absolutely fantastic.”
The Exeter venue has a huge 40m frontage and is in the hub of the dining quarter. The interior has a similar ‘souk’ like ambience to the Bath restaurant.
Tony Kitous commented: “The guest response here has been absolutely mind-blowing and the locals are delighted to see us there because we are offering something different. We received an amazing reception – and already had ‘regulars’ within two weeks of opening.”
As with all of Comptoir Libanais restaurants, the two new venues feature images of Arabic actress, Sirine Jamal al Dine, whose smile has become the glamorous beacon of the brand, prominently displayed on the walls (as well as the menus and the takeaway packaging).
Other trademark design elements include brilliant red and brushed-chrome industrial stools, bold-patterned turquoise tables and monochrome geometric flooring, as well as decorative & colourful handmade tiles.
Offering casual, all-day dining, Comptoir Libanais serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and afternoon tea alongside a range of cocktails, Lebanese wines and beers. An integral part of the Comptoir brand is the Souk Shop retailing a range of imported ‘foodie’ gifts, hand-crafted accessories, spices and sweets.
The two new openings are part of an ongoing expansion including six new openings for the chain, with another restaurant having just opened in Leeds.
“It’s like a dream come true to see our little business successfully growing in this way and spreading our love of Lebanese food, culture and hospitality,” concluded Tony Kitous.
“All our success is very much down to our amazing and hardworking team, without them our business will not be where we are today.”