Debbie Bensley and her family enjoy a family meal at this new Lebanese restaurant in Southgate, Bath

Looking forward to a family meal out in Bath, we thought that we’d try something different for a change, perhaps something just a little more exotic. After a search online we discovered Comptoir Libanais, a new Lebanese restaurant in the new Southgate area of the city. Checking out the online menu was particularly useful as it has a handy filter that removes dishes which contain food allergens (one of us is gluten intolerant). There’s a good range of food for children and adults, so we booked a table.

The restaurant is opposite Boots in Southgate so very easily accessed by car, with Southgate car park 30 seconds away. The bus and train station are only a couple of minutes walk away.

The first impression you get of the restaurant is that it’s incredibly colourful with vibrant stained glass in the windows. There’s a seating area outside (with heaters for cooler evenings) and you can leisurely peruse the menu prior to going in without blocking the pavement.

On entry we were greeted and shown to our table; it’s a very spacious restaurant with plenty of room between tables. Middle Eastern music played in the background at a level which meant you could hold a conversation without the need to raise your voice. Before you order, it’s worth spending a good few minutes to take in the beautiful decor – it’s really colourful with Lebanese images and paraphernalia covering the walls. Everywhere you look, something catches your eye and some of it is available to buy if it takes your fancy.

When we’d settled, the waiter took our drinks order after he’d helpfully talked us through the choices. We opted for some traditional homemade drinks; Mira (a frozen lemonade with mint, lemon, lime and orange), Roza (lemon and lime with rose syrup), Roomana (pomegranate and orange blossom) as well as a 7-Up for our youngest.

For the mains we ordered chicken wraps from the children’s menu, which comes with vegetable sticks and potato cubes called batata harra (try the adult version that comes with a touch of added spice, delicious!). For £5.45, the children could have a main, drink and ice cream or frozen yoghurt. Other mains included lamb wraps, grilled chicken and rice, flatbread or falafels.

I must say that there is a good selection of appetising hot and cold starters including sharing platters on the ‘grown up’ menu, but we generally go for a main and save ourselves room for a dessert (we’ll try the starters next time). We ordered lamb kofta (£10.45) and a grilled halloumi cheese (£5.95), along with zataar man’oushi (£8.95), a delicious oven baked flatbread with cheese and herbs.

Even though our children will try most things, it was a bit of gamble taking them to their first Middle East restaurant but it certainly my paid off, they loved the food and they even tried some of ours. In fact, I’ve had to promise to introduce my daughter to the delights of doner kebabs as she enjoyed my lamb kofta so much!

For dessert we chose a combination of ice creams and frozen yoghurts (£4.25) while I opted for a gluten free rose and pistachio cake with raspberry and rose water icing (£4.95). Don’t let the fact it’s gluten free put you off, I had to fight the others off from eating it all!

The meals were fantastic, fresh and tasty, and nothing was left on our plates. We needn’t have worried about the children not enjoying a new style of food, they loved it! As a family meal it was an excellent experience – we all tried each other’s meals and drinks, and we could easily talk to each other in a very relaxing environment. What’s more, we didn’t feel rushed and the staff were extremely friendly and helpful.

However, be warned, the restaurant also has a selection of Middle Eastern food and drinks for sale and, if you’re like us, you’ll walk out weighed down with tasty treats like the numerous varieties of Turkish Delight we took home. You can even buy cookery books to try and recreate a flavour of the Middle East at home. Personally I’ll leave it to the professionals and visit again.

Great news! Children eat free with an adult main course over at Comptoir Libanais over the February half term!

www.comptoirlibanais.com