Comptoir V (Moroccan, Vegan) – Kensal Green, London
PERMANENTLY CLOSEDHALAL STATUS Fully Halal food menu • Alcohol served
Comptoir V (CV for short) is the sister-site to the hugely impressive, though little known, Halal Moroccan restaurant Le Comptoir, which we reviewed early last year, and whose Chicken Pastilla ended up winning our ‘Best Starter of the Year‘ award.
With Le Comptoir securing an impressive 4/5 rating, we were expecting nothing less than quality from “London’s first Moroccan Vegan restaurant”.
The 28-cover eatery, which offers seating as part of a charming enclosed space available outside, is a cosy little place with soft lighting, brass-top engraved tables, Moroccan-style fretwork, and a mono-chromatic colour scheme of soft light browns and creams, which all combine to offer a serene, almost hazy ambience.
And while there is a mini-bar at the back of the restaurant with seating for two, this has been discreetly partitioned from the dining area.
While there wasn’t much rose coming through in this fairly sedate Rose Fizz, it was a mildly sour one, with a touch of the bitter towards the end.
If you like em sweet, however, then this might be the one for you. It may not be the most inventive, but there was a hint of mint that meandered behind the dominant flavour of the passion fruit, giving this beverage a sweet and sour after taste.
Described by one Lion as “subtly layered”, the fizzy Blueberry Mojito is generally quite a refreshing palate-cleanser enhanced by the mint leaves, which are good to chew.
Now, describing this hummus as totally unexpected might prompt the question: well, hummus is hummus FtLion, what makes this so?
Well, apart from it being perfectly rendered in terms of its oily smooth consistency, this had onions so finely diced that it was difficult to pick up at first.
Not only did such an addition add a touch of sweetness to the amalgam, but contrasted nicely against the pleasant heat generated by the attractive sprinkling of the red chilli powder.
This Hummus Beiruty has to be one of the best ones we’ve had in quite a while, and reminded us of the benchmark set by both Yasmeen Restaurant in St John’s Wood and the well established Maroush Bakehouse all those years ago.
Essentially a Baba Ganoush, except that this Aubergine Zaalock had far more texture to it, with plenty of skin left intact to enjoy.
Perfectly seasoned, with a touch of that familiar smokiness, as well as some heat, this was an enjoyable little bowl.
The sweet-cum-tangy marination was deliciously good and offset by a generous sprinkling of sesame seeds.
Placed on a bed of salad leaves, these are definitely worth getting.RECOMMENDED
It was the meatiness of these Jackfruit Nuggets that had us sold. These could so easily pass for chicken nuggets, such was their tenderness.
Not only were these balls coated in a teriyaki-style glaze that was warm, spicy, tangy and honey-sweetened to leave an addictively sticky-cum-chewy exterior, but they were also crispy in just the right places.
These were, for us, the pick of the starters and ones we’d recommend all the way.
SALADS & BOWLS
Not sure why this is called a Moroccan Buddha Bowl, but given how good it was, with its assortment of contrasting textures, colours, aromas and flavours, it certainly left us with an ecstatically enlightened view of Morrocan food.
Having covered the aubergine zaalock above, this bowl also comprised of five other selections that encompassed a mound of perfectly made steamed quinoa.
As such, while the softly made sauteed spinach was expertly spiced with some gentle heat and a lightly sour aftertaste, the spiced sweet potato cubes were soft and seasoned with pepper.
As for the curried chickpeas, then these were gently spiced and well made, with the sweet caramelised onions having a texture which helped them go nicely with the quinoa.RECOMMENDED
Any time you elicit the following reaction from any Lion: “The best veg burger I’ve had!” you know you’ve done a good job, especially when it comes to burgers (let’s face it, we’ve tried far too many for our constitutional good).
Essentially, the ‘It’s No Jerk’ had three things going for it: flavours, layers and more flavours.
With a 3-bean patty as wholesomely chunky as this, it needed to be relatively moist whilst requiring something complementary.
In this case, while it held its shape really well, the patty itself was far from dense being instead loosely textured.
But it was the large layer of cheese, coupled with plenty of in-your-face rich smoky jerk sauce, sweet caramelised onions, and a thick slice of tomato, that was sufficient in bringing this gorgeous creation together into a coherent whole.
More impressively, they also accounted for the inevitable mushiness that comes with any softly-textured bean patty by cleverly pairing everything in between with a robust and quite crispy pretzel bun.
With this, we ordered perfectly made rustic fries sprinkled with mild spicy powder, along with a small bowl of sriracha aioli sauce.
This incredibly inventive plate may just split the crowd, like it did us, right down the middle!
Who would have thought that dried and battered mushrooms, complete with a sticky barbecue glaze to reinforce the parody, could ever come close to resembling the chewy meatiness of beef ribs?
And whatever one might think of them, as one Lion did considering these imitation ribs as “too much to take”, there’s no denying the thought and effort put in to achieving said feat.
Resting on a bed of steamed kale, with the garlic not able to stand against the smoky pungency of the ribs, the remaining two Lions enjoyed the way in which its earthiness worked against the sweetness of the carrot puree.
Before moving on to the mac ‘n’ cheese, we’d like to say that while we recognise the Yank’s eccentric nature of peculiarly pairing disparate food types, in this case BBQ ribs and mac ‘n’ cheese, it doesn’t mean that we like it!
So, while this classic bowl of pasta was decent enough, with the grilling process having dried out the pasta on top, this, for us, was two separate dishes.
The bean balls in this Kofta Tagine appear to be the same kind as the patty in the burger had above.
Overall, this garnered mixed responses, with one Lion adament that it had erred on the side of salty. Nevertheless, while he went on to describe this as a somewhat classic tagine, he concluded that it wasn’t something to write home about.
The other two Lions, while disagreeing with it being overly salty, appreciated this for its mild flavours, which included the heat delivered by the sweet and smoky tomato and roasted pepper base, as well as the soft bean balls with their lightly crispy exterior.
Admittedly not the greatest tagine we’ve had, but one you’ll enjoy using the accompanying Gluten Free Ciabatta to mop up the sauce with.
Again this traditionally cooked ‘Khadija’s Moroccan Special’ failed to achieve a consensus.
Hence, despite one Lion having “no issues” with this “perfectly seasoned” tagine, which he considered a good portion given the price, the other two weren’t quite as bowled over.
Although there was agreement over the precision of both its cooking and seasoning, they considered it “a bit plain”. With the dish being effectively left to the natural flavours imparted by the vegetables therein, questions were asked over the absence of some classic Moroccan ingredients, such as raisins and sultanas, and even caramelised onions, which we thought would help in bringing some contrasting sweetness to an otherwise subtly flavoured dish.
Having said that though, we again enjoyed using the accompanying bread to soak up all that juicy goodness at the end.
With ‘The Aunty Esi’ dish, you get to enjoy a simple, well executed and healthy dish, whilst all the while knowing that you’re doing your little bit in supporting a charitable cause (£1 from the price being donated to charity Angels of Hope).
We all enjoyed this for what it was: a warming, gently spiced bowl of chick peas, which retained just that iota of a bite, and the well executed thin flaky roti that came with it, along with a salad side which injected a swift chilli kick to the whole thing.
What defined this ‘No Cheese’ Cheesecake was the ultra smooth, light citrusy “cheese” top, which was drizzled in plenty of tart raspberry sauce, and combined with a relatively thick, though gorgeously crumbly, Oreo base which dissolved effortlessly beneath.
If there was a quibble to be made, and a minor one a that, it was that the base could have been slightly thinner perhaps. Other than that, an absolutely superb vegan cheesecake which, in many respects, trumps most non-vegan versions we’ve had.
And there really isn’t much need for any ice cream with this either.
The ice cream was fantastically smooth and velvety in nature. Sprinkled in plenty of dessicated coconut, these scoops were paired with a quartet of pancake segments which, while a touch dodgy, were generously drizzled in maple syrup, and garnished with some chopped nuts for textural contrast, which, when had all together, made for a delicious mouthful.
The biscuity crumble on top, covered in a good amount of dessicated coconut, enveloped a gooey mound of dates and bananas, with the latter retaining some shape. The fact that a green banana was chosen was clever, since it helped maintain that mild sweetness throughout.
As for the custard, then despite its dull colour, it was creamy and not overly sweet. The addition of the blueberries provided that burst of fruitiness, which helped break things up. A good dessert for what it was.
We opted for their large Fresh Moroccan Mint, which was more than sufficient for three people, we’d say.
Accompanied with some brown sugar and properly brewed, the mint came through strongly in this.
With cups in hand, we sat back and ruminated over our review and life itself.
- YES/ NO
- CHILD SEATING
- PARKING > 6.30pm
And we're happy to say that Comptoir V did not disappoint. In fact, in many ways, this exceeded our expectations, with some dishes which absolutely knocked our paws off.
They have enough going on here to be considered one of the better vegan restaurants around. Having said that, there's always room for improvement, both in terms of flavours and textures.
Overall, however, Comptoir V is a smart little place which, had it been located in a more upmarket locale, would probably be taken far more seriously by the burgeoning vegan community than it has been.
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