As much as I love shopping and enjoy browsing the shops I find always find myself slightly ill at ease whenever I'm at Westfield. It's something about the layout that's all wrong - for all its space, Westfield still has the make me feel incredibly claustrophobic as I walk into one of their shops. But having to wait for a friend to finish her shift, SM and I found we had a couple of hours to hang around and decided to sniff around for some food. Their "foodcourt" - The Balcony - is laughable piece of space. If you're not up to having a meal at one of their restaurants, grabbing a sandwhich from Marks, munching on a prettily iced cupcake or slurping down an artisan gelato as you browse the shops, The Balcony is probably your best bet for a resonably priced bit of food. But the problem is it's anything but reasonaly priced and for all the space they have allocated to it, there are only few "stalls" to choose from. Just 12 high street chains - Square Pie, Pho, Crepeaffaire, etc. serve the hungry hordes. Because of the horrendously long queues at the other outlets, we choose Comptoir Libanais. Their main store on Wigmore Street in Marylebone is part deli part cafe, which has been described as the Middle Eastern equivalent to Carluccio's.
The first thing that stuck me was the lack of a menu. If there was one, I didn't see it and wasn't offered a glimpse of it. We just stood there looking around as a server waited for our order. So we ha a look at the somewhat sad looking pastries at the counter and peered into the pots of ready made stews. There was, however, a small sign sitting on the counter proclaiming their meal deal - a choice of stew with rice or couscous for around £7-8 (I can't remember the exact figure now and the receipt has gone astray). So far it's not a bad deal.
The kofte tagine with rice was SM's choice. Lamb meatballs simmered in tomato based sauce with chickpeas, peppers and courgette. It was good. Simple, honest food.
I had the aubergine and chickpea stew with couscous. Slow cooked aubergine (to an almost mush like state) in a tomato sauce with chickpeas. An incredibly heartwarming dish. My kind of comfort.
To wash it all down I had a pommegranate lemonade.
Comptoir Labanais does probably deserve a another visit but it would have to be to their Wigmore Street branch.
The Balcony, Westfield Shopping Centre, Ariel Way, Shepherds Bush, London, W12 7GE
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