We were jet lagged. It was mid afternoon in London but dawn at home, and we had just walked a half hour down Cromwell Road from our hotel toward the Victoria & Albert Museum, the holy grail of this short London Layover. The early spring day was cool, and we needed some sustenance before art. A Google Map search pointed out promising street of eateries near the museum, so we headed straight to Exhibition Road where we were faced with tapas, crepes, sushi, Chinese, a bakery, but the quirky, colorful decor of Comptoir Libanais beckoned to us. We found Nirvana. Jet lag and grey skies gave way to an explosion of colors and tastes that gave us the thrill of exploring and landing somewhere incredible.

And wow, was it ever a perfect choice. The vibrance and life attracted us to the restaurant, and but after our first bite it was clear that this was the food we craved. The tastes, the decor, the service, and the value all came together for a perfect meal in London at Comptoir Libanais.


The food is as vibrant and colorful as the decor. My Mama Zohra salad had savory chicken, salty feta, tart pickled red onion, crunchy pita, and a zesty vinaigrette-like dressing.

Our mezze platter had a soul-satisfying sampler of falafel, hummus, labne, baba ganoush, a type of hand pie called samboussek, and pickled vegetables.

The food was plentiful, bright, delicious, and filling without being heavy. We both felt deeply satisfied and much more alive after our lunch. Chef and restauranteur Tony Kitous created Comptoir Libanais to, in his words, “share the food of my childhood with everyone.” I’m convinced. When I feel like a little armchair traveling, I go to the menus section of his website and experiment with the flavors that he and his crew made come alive for me.

There are many locations now of Comptoir Libanais, and I understand the food varies a bit from location to location. Here’s a link to the South Kensington restaurant where we ate.


The decor is a colorful mix of Northern African tiles, empty harissa cans from Tunisian food manufacturer Le Phare du Cap bon, and “paint a fez on the portrait of a random celebrity,” including Elvis, Queen Victoria, Princess Di, and Steve Jobs.

I’m doing some research as I write this and see that the design was the genius of designer Rana Salam. I can understand now how my really deep thrill at sitting and experiencing Comptoir Libanais was the result of her artist’s eye at creating an experience. Even the bathroom, down a narrow flight of stairs in the basement, was part of the experience:


This is an absolutely fabulous spot. Try it out if you go to London! I’ll be back this spring, and I’m already looking forward to a perfect meal at Comptoir Libanais once again.

Comptoir Libanais table setting

Have a piece of Comptoir Liberais with La Phare du Cap Bon Harissa from Amazon

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