HomeReviews - UKLe Comptoir [Mezze] (Moroccan, Lebanese) – Kensal Green

Le Comptoir [Mezze] (Moroccan, Lebanese) – Kensal Green

Comptoir Mezza grill cake Moroccan Kensal Rise green London Halal

If there’s one point that Comptoir Mezze’s (very soon to be rebranded Le Comptoir) shopfront manages to conspicuously convey, it’s that they endeavour to serve  “authentic” Moroccan and Lebanese cuisine.

Having won Time Out’s Love London Awards in 2016, it has consistently received Tripadvisor’s “Certificate of Excellence” from 2014 to 2016.

Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise green London Halal

Time Out Love London Awards 2016!

The restaurant has taken full advantage of its street corner location by creating a semi-secluded wooden patio outside with seating for around 20.

It appears as though full advantage has also been taken of the entire range of the chocolate-coloured spectrum for the restaurant’s decor. While the darker tones dominate its exterior, softer and lighter hues are used alongside the earthen tones of beige, taupe and cream, which, in conjunction with Moroccan-inspired ceiling shades that caste atmospheric shadows across the walls and ceiling, create a soothingly moody ambience.

With a total capacity of 70, which includes 48 on the inside, Le Comptoir also offers an al fresco experience in its Moroccan Garden during the summer months.

According to its owners, the restaurant is renowned for its traditional North African Berber tagines.

DRINKS

drinks juices Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise Green London Halal

(Left-Right) Strawberry, Vanilla & Mango; Apple, Mint & Lemon; Comptoir Mixed Berry – £3.95 each

The best of these attractive trio of juices was the Apple, Mint & Lemon. A beautifully balanced beverage that had a refreshing mintiness to it while delivering a lovely tangy kick with every given sip.

The second was certainly the Strawberry, Vanilla & Mango. Nicely concentrated, with a thick and lushness consistency, whose delicious fruitiness was essentially defined by the strawberry and a hint of mango. Very well made!

As for the Comptoir Mixed Berry, then its pleasant, mellow citrusy taste, underscored by the sharpness of the berry, made this a cool and refreshing choice.

The only real criticism we managed was that all three could and should have been served properly chilled.

COLD MEZZE

Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise green London Halal Baba Ganoush

Baba Ganoush (v) – Smoked aubergine blended with tahina and lemon juice, £4.50

Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise green London HalalThis was a fairly creamy Baba Ganoush, that was smartly presented with a pomegranate and mint garnish.

The initial flavour of lemon, which emerges almost immediately, eventually makes way for the subtle smokiness of the aubergine.

This was a Baba Ganoush that was done well without being anything memorable.

It was served with thin slices of naan bread that were firm in texture.

HOT MEZZE

Chicken PastillaFalafelGrilled Haloumi SteakCheese BriouatCalamariZaalouk
Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise green London Halal Chicken Pastilla

Chicken Pastilla – Traditional dish of Fez, which combines the flavours of chicken and almonds in a pastry dusted with cinnamon and powdered sugar, £6.50

Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise green London Halal Chicken Pastilla BastilaA little starter that took us completely off guard! We simply weren’t expecting such depth of flavour from something so unassuming.

This Chicken Pastilla (or Bastila) is, essentially, a super-miniaturised version of a ginormous dish that’s traditionally reserved for über special occasions, such as weddings, where its prepared large enough to feed well over a dozen people, it not more.

Now, if these are anything near as good as Comptoir’s, then FtL would really appreciate a kind invitation to any traditional Moroccan weddings with plans of serving up one of these beauties!

In any case, this particular one had us immediately standing to attention as soon as we drove our knife into its thin, multilayered, über crunchy pastry encasing, and towards its über generous chicken filling.

What we encountered was an undulating roller coaster ride, whose strong and subtle spicy peaks and troughs combined with a variety of sweet and savoury bends and turns to create a fully immersive taste and textural experience!

The first thing to come through was the spicy cinnamon. This was quickly followed by the distinct sweetness of the sugar powder along with the caramelised onions, before slowly giving way to the spices folded through the softness of the shredded chicken therein, which had a deeply rich and umptuous meaty flavour that kept us thoroughly enthralled right till the very end.

Could this be an early contender for our end of year FtLion Awards?

Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise green London Halal Falafel

Falafel (4pc) – Made with crushed chickpeas, broadbeans, coriander, dill, garlic and peppers, £4.50

Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise green London HalalPresented on a bed of slightly grainy, though decent enough, hummus, these crunchy trio of Falafels were smartly presented along with slices of beetroot that added more than just aesthetic value.

The falafels’ interior were slightly on the dry side, but meaty in texture and full of herby flavour.

As for the luminous pickled beetroot, then these worked as an effective counter to the gentle flavours of the falafel precisely because it wasn’t as intensely pickled as it could have been.

Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise green London Halal Grilled Haloumi Steak

Grilled Haloumi Steak – Grilled haloumi cheese steak drizzled with olive oil, £4.75

Absolutely bang on with the cooking of this Grilled Haloumi Steak.

Soft as you like; zero rubberiness that one will often find with most equivalent restaurants; gorgeous dark griddle marks across the top that leant a touch of smokiness that made way for a lovely sweet aftertaste – almost as though it’s been brushed in something sweet.

Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise green London Halal Cheese Briouat

Cheese Briouat (3pc) – Moroccan pastry parcels filled with spinach and a blend of feta and cream cheese, £4.75

Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise green London HalalOh yes; three pieces of warn Cheese Briouat that were scrupmtious little packages of goodness.

The pastry was thin, delicate and flaky, whilst the cheese and spinach filling smoothly textured.

The chilli dip had a fruitiness to it that complimented the gentle cheesiness of the parcels adding just enough heat to lift this to a superior level.

It was accompanied by a black olive, diced pepper and lettuce salad.

Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise green London Halal Calamari

Calamari – Seasoned with paprika, chilli and fresh herbs served with a wedge of lemon and home made tartar sauce, £4.50

Yes Yes! Another expertly made Calamari with a superb, light crispy exterior with a touch of heat to it, and a tender interior with just the right amount of chewiness.

Moreover, it came with the same chilli sauce as served with the Cheese Briouat.

Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise green London Halal Zaalouk

Zaalouk – Aubergine cooked with tomatoes and traditional moroccan spices, £4.95

The smokiness of the purred aubergine in this Zaalouk was distinct and apparent without being overpowering.

It’s consistency was decent enough with some texture to it making it a well balanced spicy dip.

COUS COUS

Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise green London Halal Cous Cous chicken lamb

Royale – Chicken, lamb and merguez, served with steamed cons cous and vegetables, £13.95

With its symmetrically-layered and colourful assortment of rustically presented meats and vegetables, this really was a ‘Royale’ tagine.

Piled up high was an absolutely tender combination of chicken, lamb and kebabs, juxtaposed with chunky, firm pieces of carrots, courgettes and butternut squash, along with soft potatoes, that were all topped with soft, caramelised onions sprinkled in cinnamon.

In addition, the simple bowl of gravy accompaniment is meant to be emptied entirely over the contents of the tagine so as to fully hydrate the cous cous.

Needless to say, the plethora of flavous, textures and aromas were seemingly endless.

The barbeque grilled kebab, though soft on the inside, managed to retain a crispy exterior, with the smokiness being clear and apparent.

And while the beautifully tender chicken practically fell apart, the lamb in this particular pot was, on account of it being leaner and less fatty, superior in quality than the lamb used in the tagine below, with a marination that delivered a spicy-sweet aftertaste.

A wholesome, hearty dish which, given the generous portion, was superb value for money at just £13.95!

TAGINE

lamb shank Comptoir Mezza grill cake Moroccan Kensal Rise green London Halal

Lamb – Pieces of lamb with prunes and toasted almonds, £10.95

tagine lamb Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise green London Halal lambLifting the lid on this certainly brought the wow factor, with a steaming, bubbling and sizzling broth that drew us in that little bit closer.

Although the lamb was, despite flaking apart and coming off the bone at the merest touch, slightly on the fatty side, its layer of masala-cum nutty marination was, nevertheless, flavourous and well spiced.

What’s more, the same masala was also present in the broth and, thus, continued to be cooked giving it a more intensified flavour. Hence, although one Lion preferred said broth to be sweeter, the partially caramelised prunes played their part in imparting some much needed sweetness to counter the harshness of the caught at the bottom of the clay pot.

As such, the strength of flavour achieved in this Lamb tagine was unparalleled, with the almonds providing textural contrast.

If you’re looking for an unabashed tagine that packs a punch, look no further.

Tagine chicken Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise green London Halal

Chicken – Chicken, green olives and preserved lemons, £9.95

Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise green London HalalAs for the Chicken tagine, then this was, arguably, a pinch of salt less from being a perfectly seasoned and, therefore, the best of the trio of tagines on the night.

Hence, whilst the breast and leg were as delightfully tender as those in the Royale, and the large potato pieces cooked just right, this wasn’t enough to stop two Lions considering the dish to be slightly on the salty side.

And though the remaining one believed the gentle sourness of the preserved lemons coupled with the pungency of the green olives to be a sufficient counter, on the whole, has this beautifully presented tagine, with its lovely herby-cum-lemony flavour, come with cous cous in place of the well made bread, it would have crossed the road first to take the chequered flag.

DESSERTS

vegan pancake dessert Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise green London Halal

Dessert of the Day – Vegan Strawberry Pancakes served for Pancake Day

vegan pancake Comptoir Mezze grill Moroccan Kensal Rise green London HalalSince it was pancake day the week we visited, Le Comptoir had prepared the above dessert of the day: Vegan Strawberry Pancakes.

Actually, Le Comptoir recently opened the UK’s first Moroccan vegan restaurant Comptoir V.

This one was comprised of 3-layers of nice and fluffy pancakes, with slices of strawberry and nutella sauce as fillings, and all covered in icing sugar.

It was good without being anything outstanding where the freshness of the strawberries worked well against the sweetness of the chocolate.

THE ROAR
Le Comptoir
4 FTL's Roar
3.5 Pride's Roar (1 Roar)
Alcohol/ Pork?
  • YES/ NO
FSA HYGIENE RATING
Last Checked: 03/03/18
Facilities
  • CHILD SEATING
  • DISABLED FACILITIES
  • DELIVEROO
Summary
So, what of the question of Comptoir Mezze serving "authentic Moroccan and Lebanese cuisine"? Well, given the way in which the tagines were presented, including the depth of flavour achieved in all three, and given how impressive the starters were, we'd say pretty darn authentic. It was certainly some of the best tagines we've had in London, and comparable to the ones we had last year at Zayane in Notting Hill.

Surprisingly, this restaurant is a relatively unknown one within London's Halal restaurant scene; but one that deserves far more recognition for its uncompromising flavours. In fact, one of the starters, viz. the Chicken Pastilla, could just be in the running for our end of year awards, it was that good.

Note also that Comptoir Mezze will soon be renamed and rebrandedLe Comptoir.

Menu Recommendation

Drink - Apple, Mint & Lemon

Starter - Chicken Pastilla

Main - Any of the Tagines

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Le Comptoir
20 Station Terrace, Kensal Green, London, NW10 5RX.

T: +44 (0)20 8962 8731 | W: le-comptoir.uk | E: hello@le-comptoir.uk

Opening Hours: Sun-Thur 12:00-23:00 | Fri-Sat 12:00–1:00

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