We try the latest restaurant delivering Middle Eastern fare to well-heeled South Kensington
Words Joy Montgomery
Ceru is the contemporary Levantine restaurant bringing flavours of the eastern Mediterranean coast to South Kensington. Inside it’s a clever fusion of 2017 cool. Copper and blonde wood is mixed with colourful fabrics and geometric print glass panels. Even the toilets are stunning (trust us on this one) with their carved wooden doors and Instagram-worthy Middle Eastern tiles.
Using authentic ingredients and cooking methods, Ceru offers a range of small (and not so small) sharing dishes, catering for everyone, from vegetarians and vegans to gluten-free devotees.
We start with a selection from the ‘dips and salads’ category: humous, fadi (roasted courgette, yoghurt, lemon and tahini) and spiced warm cauliflower and walnut salad – all served with Greek pita bread. Fresh yet flavoursome, the starters pack a punch. The cauliflower salad is intersected with tangy bursts of flavour from pomegranate seeds and mint.
Next there’s a spread of fish, meat and veggie dishes. Fillet of sea bream is light and sharp with warm lemon dressing and capers, while the smokiness of shish taouk (paprika and lemon marinated grilled chicken breast) transports us to sun-drenched barbecues of summers past. We opt for two side orders of pumpkin and fried rice, which are subtly spiced, allowing the mains to shine.
Roasted aubergine with chermoula is a highlight – delectably smokey and spicy with herb yoghurt and lohz. Lamb shoulder, however, comes up trumps as dish of the day. Slow-roasted for five hours in a blend of 12 shawarma spices, it is served with a pomegranate, fresh mint and pistachio sauce, the tender meat falling off the bone to bathe in a sweet and sour sauce which offsets the fattiness of the lamb with perfection.
We finish our meal with the unusual sounding ‘flavours of baklava’, which comprises of cardamom ice cream with a nut brittle and burnt honey caramel. Through a clever balance of flavours, the dish really does taste like deconstructed baklava. Despite not being cardamom lovers, we can’t get enough of the ice cream with was delicately flavoured, with the brittle offering a satisfying contrasting crunch. A perfectly floral finish to a show-stopping meal.