Comptoir 102 - a homely, healthy and wholesome haven
Exploring the hidden gem in Dubai's Jumeirah
Comptoir 102 is the brainchild of friends Emmanuelle Sawko and Alexandra de Moutaudoin, both from Paris. In a city full of boutiques and cafes, this relatively new concept tucked away in Dubai's Jumeirah offers something altogether different: a well thought out mix of interior design, homewares, fashion accessories and super wholesome cuisine. Sitting in the cafe's garden, you'd be forgiven for thinking you had been transported to Paris or some other chic European city. The standout part of Comptoir 102? It feels like home. Relaxed, unpretentious, cosy and inviting.
Buro 24/7 Middle East's Editor-in-Chief Holly Williams spoke to founders Emmanuelle and Alexandra over a superfood feast to find out more about their beautiful budding little business...
Tell us about the food...
Emmanuelle: As much as we can we try to work with local farms, organic products and a lot of our products, recipes and dishes are made with organic produce. What we also try to do is always work with health specialists: people who have a lot of knowledge on the lifestyle of eating healthy. Macrobiotic for example - the first consultant that we had here to open the concept, his name is Chris Clark and he has written a book on eating healthy: what's healthy, what's not and we're actually hosting a book signing for that this Thursday (20 Feb). We always try to have those specialists visiting, to help us with the menu. For sure we are 100% no sugar, there is absolutely no sugar in any of the dishes or desserts at Comptoir - so you can eat as many desserts as you want guilt-free! There is also nothing refined, it's all homemade and we only use products that are fresh, we also have an almost 100% gluten-free menu. We do work with a few things that have gluten such as bread, but for the rest most of what we have is gluten-free. The menu is also absent of butter, there's no milk and no animal fats. For example we have a big list of amazing smoothies and they are all made with homemade almond milk.
What inspired you to create Comptoir 102?
Emmanuelle: This food concept is really new to Dubai, when we arrived here we were really struggling to find a place like this. We are both French, I used to live in Paris, also New York, and there are a lot of health conscious places in those cities. We were sure we would find something similar in Dubai but there was surprisingly nothing to cater to our needs - so we created it ourselves. We also change the menu every day, so depending on what the chef finds in terms of fresh, organic, local ingredients, you will find on the Comptoir 102 menu.
What are the biggest challenges?
Emmanuelle: We struggle with trying to educate people and help them to understand that healthy can also be tasty. A lot of people relate healthy food to bland tastes - this is especially true with men. But we really focus on the taste, everything has to be healthy yet delicious. When people come and actually taste the food, first of all they feel well and full and they love it and they come back - so it's starting to spread.
Tell us about the fashion concept...
Alexandra: It all started with what was missing in Dubai in our opinion, and so we have tried to bring brands from interior designer and accessories and jewellery that we haven't found here and feel deserve their place. We wanted to bring a new style, new atmosphere and at-home feeling, more casual, very comfortable, very cosy - and at the same time quite stylish. We started with interiors - we stock sofas, rugs, lights, tableware, home accessories and they all have a history. We know all of the brands we are working with, they are very small brands and we know how they work, we know the quality of what they do and there's a charm associated with them all. For us it's very important, it's not mass big names - we really try to have something with a bit more personality. There is also a custom element, for example with the sofas you can chose your fabrics, your sizes, and we can help you devise your interiors. We also have jewellery and we were elected by Vogue France last summer as one of the best jewellery destinations around the world for our jewellery corner which was amazing! We also have fashion accessories, you can find shoes, hats, scarves and we will soon have some ready-to-wear and swimwear.
How do you edit your selection for the boutique?
Alexandra: We buy really small selections, we like the idea that our customer can find something at Comptoir that not everyone will have. Our edit is very nice, simple, easy to wear but still edgy. Some of the brands we have here are really well known in their respective countries - in France or elsewhere.
Emmanuelle: We also work with a lot of designers from the States, so it's not a French store, it's really a global concept.
Alexandra: I think it's also really important to say again, that we are really trying to bring a new style. This new style is really the way we live: the way we eat, we dress, we cook.
What are your favourite places in Dubai?
Alexandra and Emmanuelle in unison: The beach!
Alexandra: The desert. I am totally addicted to working out - I do kickboxing at JLT, I swim, I do yoga, I love it.
Emmanuelle: The One & Only Royal Mirage is one of my favourite hotels.
Comptoir 102 is located along Beach Road, Jumeirah in Dubai. For more information visit the website here.