I made a rather unwonted resolution to go vegan in the new year. So naturally, my food options had to be recalibrated. Luckily for me, living in Dubai means I have a lot of options, as I found there’s already a growing demand for purely plant-based foods, with more and more restaurants catering to it.
One of the first places I was recommended to try was Comptoir 102, the trendy lifestyle concept store on Jumeirah Beach Road, which also comes with a healthy cafe. While the store has been in existence for five years, the menu at the restaurant changes constantly, due to its focus on local, organic and seasonal produce. And I was told they’ve just launched an extended vegan selection.
We went there on a recent afternoon and were immediately struck by its cosy and stylish decor. As a place that markets itself as the destination for natural products, you immediately notice the earthy vibe. Turn right and you walk into the shop, which sells everything from fashion to homeware and cosmetics. Turn left and you’re in the restaurant, with a casual, rustic feel, reflecting the bohemian flair of its founders.
We started with the smoothies, naturally. I went for the protein shake (Dh35), a mix of vegan protein, almond milk and orange blossom. And my sleepy friend picked the coffee shake (Dh30), a shot of coffee with almond milk, cardamom and dates. We ordered that with the seaweed pesto (Dh60), which was served with flaxseeds crackers and guacamole. I was not prepared for the amount of flavour that was packed in that mixture, with the guacamole nicely balancing the seaweed. That one quickly disappeared off the plate.
It was also my first time trying out vegan cheese, and I am now hooked. I have since gone on to taste many vegan cheeses but none have measured up to the one at Comptoir 102, which came in a platter (Dh50). And for those scoffing at cheese made from plants, don’t diss it until you try it. Next came the avocado crostini (Dh65), guacamole served on toasted bread topped with alfalfa sprouts; and the acai bowl (Dh45), acai berries blended with coconut water and banana served with fresh berries.
For the main course (we were hungry!), I had the organic New York bagel (Dh55), served with blanched kale, vegan cream cheese and roquette salad. And my meat-eating friend chose the protein power bowl (Dh65), quinoa with blanched kale and avocado topped with fried eggs. The toasted sesame seeds in my bagel added a nice little kick to the toasted bread and the cream cheese and kale combo took it up a notch.
The serving sizes are quite small here, so be prepared to order — and pay for — multiple items.
The crowning glory of our meal was the vegan cheesecake, which, as a cheesecake lover, tasted like, or even better, than all the cheesecakes I’ve had in my (past) meat-eating life.
With its focus on healthy, organic, unprocessed food, Comptoir 102 is one of the best places I’ve been to for guilt-free dining. And with its comfy set-up and location, it’s the perfect place to relax, slow down and watch the world go by.
Location: Beach Road, Jumeirah 1, Dubai.
Good for: Anyone looking for healthy food. Or a cosy place to work alone, relax or shop.
Credit card: Yes
Average cost per person: Dh60