I have a bad habit of repeating myself so your ears are probably bleeding but in case you’ve been living under a rock and haven’t picked up on it already, I’m on a healthy eating streak- or so I’d like to believe. Regardless, I definitely feel happier if the plate before me withholds a healthy meal, so Comptoir 102 was the cherry on my sundae of a week and the best possible venue for a super chilled out, ultra laid back Friday lunch.
Located on Jumeirah Beach Road in the unsuspecting villa # 102 (big surprise there), this 3 year old spot is your original hippie restaurant. Not your millennial hipsters who thrive in industrial-revolution-inspired exposed-walls and bare-bulbs environments, but actual hippies who seem to have outgrown the peace signs but have perhaps spent some time in Indian ashrams that have left a lasting impression. As soon as you walk into this open, airy, and sunny space, you can’t help but double check if you’re in the right place, because you first pass through a boutique/retail area offering unique pieces from all over the world, and then comes the restaurant.
We picked a table in their calm and unassuming backyard, surrounded by the aloe vera plants growing at the premises. The raw wood tables, wicker chairs and straw light covers and mats under the table reaffirm the inspiration taken from an Indian ashram. The menu is quite short and concise so I felt a little strapped for choices, but M was happy at not having to strain his brain too much.
There’s an ala carte menu at Comptoir that stays constant so you can always count on getting your old favorites, but there’s also a daily menu that’s changed everyday for those people who eat there 3 times a day, 7 days a week (believe it or not, there are many such), and/or like to be surprised. Comptoir isn’t strictly a vegan place, but largely is. It’s also mostly gluten free and dairy free, and entirely refined sugar free. They make almond milk in house and use organic maple syrup, raw honey or dates as sweeteners. They cater to everyone but one thing is a definite constant: everything under the roof is healthy and organic.
We started off with some Organic Chicken Spring Rolls in Rice Paper . I love love LOVE these in general, and they were exceptionally good over here. A little heavy on the sesame seeds, but there’s no such thing as “too much sesame” in my world. With this, we had some Seaweed Pesto Guacamole that came with baked vegetable crackers. The vegetable crackers are also made in house, with almonds, flaxseeds, and dehydrated vegetables. YUM!
My chronic sore throat called for some warmth, so naturally the lentil soup called out to me. This lentil soup was very different from any other version that I’ve had before. It tasted more heavily spiced, almost like Haleem. Upon further investigation, I learnt that it has zucchini it it and is cooked in vegetable stock with onions, thyme and cinnamon. It was perhaps an acquired taste, because although it wasn’t what I was hoping for, I couldn’t help but keep reaching for the next spoonful.
For the main course, M and I shared a Miso Salmon with cauliflower and green pea puree. This was such a well-prepared salmon, that as soon as I took the first bite, I told M we need to buy some organic salmon on our way home, because I’m going to want salmon all week after this. Perfectly seasoned and cooked to absolute perfection, this salmon was just that little bit more pink and that’s just the visible difference organic makes. A dish can never be better than the produce, and many chef’s don’t realize that.
For dessert we had the No Cheese Cheesecake, and the Choco Petit Pot. If I wasn’t sold already, the dessert is what made me stand on the table and yell out “TAKE MY MONEY, TAKE IT ALL!” I’ve had a few vegan cheesecakes, but they’ve always had way too much date in their crust which overpowers everything else. This one, however, was heavier on the coconut, therefore, snow angels. The Choco Petit pot was the most rich and indulgent vegan chocolate mouse I’ve ever had and I swear there was just NO way tell that it’s actually a healthier alternative. My hot drink of choice was a Matcha Tea with Maple Syrup and Almond Milk. More snow angels.
Overall, this was the best, most guilt-free meal I’ve had in the longest time I can remember. The food has such a home-cooked, unpretentious feel to it, and it was such a breath of fresh air to have a wholesome, filling, super-healthy, ultra delicious meal that wasn’t drowsed in butter and cream and topped with foie gras. Comptoir 102 is what I dream of at night now and can’t wait to go back! Highly, HIGHLY recommended!