Review: Comptoir Libanais, Poland Street

comptoir-libanais-1
Out Of Office magazine reviews Comptoir Libanais, a vibrant Lebanese canteen in Poland Street 

Comptoir Libanais is a busy casual Lebanese canteen with 15 locations across the UK, with another two opening soon.

We visited Poland Street in Soho, a short walk from Oxford Circus. As you walk in the atmosphere is busy with an exposed deli-style kitchen where you can see the chefs cooking up all that you’d expect from a Middle Eastern restaurant, such as tagine, falafel and mezze.

We opted for the hot mezze platter which came with Baba ghanuj, houmous, tabbouleh, falafel, lentil salad, cheese sambousek, pickles and pita bread, along with some halloumi and lamb kibbeh. It was delicious, authentic and was served at speed.

We washed it down with a Heritage Plaisir du Vin, which is a Lebanese wine. The wine was fruity, smoky and full bodied, yet easy drinking. We hadn’t tried a Lebanese wine before and would certainly have it again!

What?  A busy casual Lebanese canteen with plenty of locations across the UK to choose from.

Why choose Comptoir Libanais? If you’re looking for a casual lunch with a flavorsome array of food served quickly, then this is a great choice. There are also many delights on sale to take home with you, from wine and pastries, to spices and sweets.

Cost: £

52 Poland Street, Soho, W1F 7NQ

02074344335

www.comptoirlibanais.com

Advertisements

Review: Balans Soho Society, Seven Dials, London

7dials_int_3

Out Of Office Magazine visits the newly opened Balans Soho Society café at Seven Dials

This recently opened venue on Monmouth Street is the sixth location in the Balans family and modelled on the Soho café style. It’s simple, sleek, bistro style is clean and cosy – much like our seat specially reserved for us in the corner of the restaurant.

Also like our visit to the Kensington restaurant, the staff were friendly, attentive and well-informed about the variety of food and drink on offer. We also learnt that, like the Kensington restaurant, a staff member had left for an adventure and landed back at Balans a few years later – it seems they are a good employer with employees only enthusiastic to return.

We started with the seared scallops – perfectly cooked but a small portion that left you wanting a little more – plus the lamb pastilla, which was filling and tender. For our mains, we opted for the 10 oz sirloin steak cooked medium rare and the Cornish crab linguine that certainly didn’t skimp on the chilli!

Too full for dessert we stayed for another glass of malbec and merlot, happy in our surroundings. While we relaxed, a waiter dropped a full tray of glasses but the staff took it in their stride with a smile. (Very unlucky considering they had just opened!)

What? A great addition to the Balans Soho Society collection. Close to Covent Garden, Shaftesbury Avenue and Leicester Square.

Why choose Balans? Nice for for a planned brunch, lunch or dinner out, or a spur of the moment occasion. The menu is varied with international influences and changes regularly.

Cost: ££

32-34 Monmouth Street, Seven Dials, London, WC2H 9HA

020 7836 2982

www.balans.co.uk

Review: Sutton & Sons, Stoke Newington, London

Out Of Office Magazine reviews Sutton & Sons fish and chip restaurant in Stoke Newington, London

Sometimes it’s the simplest, freshest food that can’t be beaten. Sutton & Sons offer up high quality fish and chips made the old fashioned way – hand cut chips and a wide selection of fresh fish fried in beer batter or grilled.

This is a casual restaurant but it’s certainly not short of charm, and the staff are very helpful and friendly. Plus the lobster subs, crab and oysters take up a notch if that’s what you’re looking for.

We opted for the tempura prawns to start, with a sweet chilli dipping sauce. This was followed by the cod goujons (which are absolutely huge!) and a lobster sub – all nicely washed down with a cool bottle of prosecco.

We were too full for dessert (the portions are very large) but the sorbets and battered Mars Bar looked delicious.

Where? We visited the Stoke Newington branch but there are also restaurants in Essex Road, Islington and Hackney Central.

Why visit Sutton & Sons? If you like fish and chips, then you need to visit this restaurant. It’s delightfully simple and satisfying. They do takeaway and delivery too, but we’d recommend eating in.

Cost: £

90 Stoke Newington High Street, London N16 7NY
020 7249 6444
http://www.suttonandsons.co.uk

Review: Ibérica, Manchester

Ibérica Spinningfields, Manchester

Out Of Office Magazine visits Ibérica, a Spanish metropolis in Manchester’s Spinningfields

Who doesn’t like tapas? A small selection of tasty plates accompanied by great wine (or cocktails) enables you to try a great variety of dishes. And, if the restaurant is happy to take you on guided tour through their best cuisine – as our fantastic waitress at Ibérica was – it gives you all the more time to enjoy chatting with your guests.

We certainly felt safe in our waitress’ care as she brought us a selection of the restaurants’ top dishes. Our Ibérica journey started modestly with manzanilla olives and toasted bread with tomato washed down with a gin cocktail. The croquettes, mini secreto pork loin burgers, chorizo lollipops and Galician octopus were all delicious. The red berry gazpacho provided a palette cleanse but not much else.

All of us were in agreement that the pluma Iberian pork loin was the main event – the meat had a sweet nuttiness, was delicate and so tender it barely needed chewing. (My guests were carnivores but there are a reasonable number of options for vegetarians too.)

On to dessert and after grazing at a leisurely pace (which is great to combat over eating) we actually felt rather full. So, we opted for a liquid treat in the form of the Happy Ending, which consisted of Amaretto, midori, cream and cinnamon.

Where? Ibérica is centrally located; walking it’s around eight minutes from Salford Central and 16 from Manchester Victoria. The area, Spinningfields, is between Deansgate and the River Irwell, and was developed in the late 2000s – Iberica itself opened in 2015.

One of my guests went to Manchester Metropolitan University and was pleasantly surprised by how “fresh and new” the area looked, and by how much it had changed since she studied there years ago.

Ambience? Ibérica’s decor is in keeping with the crisp feel of its location. Leather seats, shutters, tiles, high ceilings and claret tassels give it a Spanish feel with a modern edge.

Should we go? Yes. We would certainly recommend trying it and taking a good few guests along to justify ordering more dishes!

Cost: ££

The Avenue, Manchester, M3 3HF
0161 358 1350
http://www.ibericarestaurants.com

Review: Amantia, Birmingham

calamari
Ben Paddock reviews Amantia, a family run restaurant serving Spanish cuisine in the heart of Birmingham

A short walk up from New Street Station on Bennetts Hill, you’ll find  Amantia. This Spanish restaurant has been open for over a year serving authentic tapas and paella among other dishes.

To start we chose a mixture of tapas – Manchego cheese with fried almonds, potato and onion omelette and dates wrapped in pancetta. This turned out to be a great selection, the cheese was creamy and the sweetness of the dates combined with the pancetta was a great combo. There are enough options on this menu that you could easily have a well-varied meal on tapas alone.

For the main, we shared a seafood paella – each dish is easily enough between two. It came out in the pan and the waiter offered to serve it for us. This was a good hearty dish – plenty of rice and a good mix of mussels, salmon, prawns and calamari. We chose a red and white rioja from the wine list which was a ideal match for this dish.

Somehow we found room for dessert and opted for a traditional Spanish almond cake and chocolate torte. The almond cake was moist and had a great texture and the chocolate torte had the right level of richness. All in all this perfectly rounded off an enjoyable evening.

What? A friendly, family-run restaurant showcasing a great selection of original Spanish dishes, wine and sangria. They also have an extensive list of gin & tonic, as well as regular cocktails.

Why choose Amantia? You’ll be served by a team of people keen to show off Spain’s best dishes. You can enjoy a quick tapas lunch or take in the full works for dinner.

Cost: ££

9-10 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5RS
0121 643 3647 /  info@amantia.co.uk
www.amantiarestaurant.co.uk