Le Comptoir, 20 Station Terrace London, NW10 5RX
To celebrate Veganuary, Mindful Chef partnered with West London restaurant Comptoir V, and its sister restaurant Le Comptoir, to create a Middle Eastern plant based menu, dubbed the’Mindful Menu’.
Middle Eastern food lends itself well to a vegan diet, with grains, beans and pulses often taking centre stage. When Sa’eed, the owner of Le Comptoir went vegan 3 years ago, he opened Comptoir V, a sister restaurant round the corner, showcasing how the flavours of his childhood can shine without any meat, dairy or eggs.
This collaboration with Le Comptoir is the first brick and mortar venture for the UK’s number one healthy recipe box delivery service.
Like all Mindful Chef meals, its aim is to give a nutritious twist on Middle Eastern dishes, without compromising on flavour. As Sa’eed is also shaking up conventional Middle Eastern food, the partnership between the two seems natural.
We start things of with a warm salad of spiced cauliflower, roasted rainbow carrots, and lentils, all tied together with a herby tahini dressing. Super healthy kale gives this dish both texture and a nutrition boost, but the warming spice of harissa and sweet pomegranate seeds give this hearty salad a luxurious feel – probably our favourite dish on the Mindful Menu.
The main course, a falafel shakshuka, is a lighter take on a Middle Eastern classic. We find the texture of the falafel a little odd, more squishy than we’d have liked, and not a patch on the regular falafel at Le Comptoir.
The tomato sauce, however, was rich and flavourful, and would have been perfect if served with a good hunk of bread – alas, that isn’t quite inkeeping with the low carb Mindful Chef recipes.
We round things off with a dessert of black rice pudding with coconut yoghurt and pomegranate. This better-for-you comfort food is a real triumph. It’s just sweet enough, and just rich enough to feel like a treat without leaving you feeling sluggish.
The rice is slow cooked, yet has a more bite than in a typical rice pudding, but the thick coconut yoghurt provides the creaminess you crave from this traditional, warming pud.
As well as the Mindful Menu, we order some of the vegan friendly dishes from the main menu, to get more of a feel for the usual fare at Le Comptoir. Some of these dishes really impress – notably the sublimely smooth hummus and the perfectly crisp and crumbly falafel.
The owner recommends a Moroccan spiced stewed aubergine and tomato dish called zaalock, which neither of us have tried before. This goes down a treat and we mop up every last drop with the fresh flatbreads served alongside.
Despite dining at the flagship restaurant, Le Comptoir,, we are also brought one of the special dishes from the Comptoir V menu – the vegan dynamite shrimp.
I’ve had some dodgy run-ins with vegan prawn alternatives, so had fairly low expectations. These sweet, spicy and sticky bites, made from tofu, potato and kelp, have a much more palatable texture than I expected, and a subtle flavour of the sea thanks to the kelp.
Coated in a light tempura batter and a fiery sriracha sauce, the’shrimp’ were unbelievably moreish and could fool most fish fanatics.
The Mindful Menu itself is an enjoyable set meal, but it’s the main menu that really leaves us wanting more.
The respect for classic flavours with a hint of innovation makes me think the rest of the Compoir V menu will hold some real gems, and I’ll certainly be making the trip back to Kensal Rise soon to try it for myself.