Having reviewed Ceru as a pop-up restaurant previously, it was an absolute delight to see they’ve opened up a permanent restaurant in the very posh area of South Kensington. It was hardly surprising considering the unique style of food they have been creating for a number of years.
Where is the Levant you might wonder? In loose terms, it is the crossroad of countries in the eastern Mediterranean area, northeast Africa, northwest Arabia and western Asia. With such a melting pot of cultures and lifestyles, it is perhaps to be expected that their menu is filled with a kaleidoscope of colours and vibrancy. Their relatively short menu uses nearly 100 ingredients with over 20 spices and 6 varieties of nuts.
A fillet of sea bream is carefully fried so that the meat doesn’t taste overcooked; there are strong citrusy notes from their warm lemon dressing. There are other flavours to give the dish added complexity using oregano, red chilli and fried garlic. They could improve the dish further by frying the skin part more to make it crispy tasting.
Although I didn’t order their signature lamb shoulder on this occasion, having tried it before. It is a must order dish for the Ceru newcomers. It is a meticulously prepared dish that involves 5 hours of slow roasting using a secret blend of 12 Shawarma spices.
Lamb kebab cubes can be harsh tasting if cooked the wrong way. The Ceru version is tender and delicate tasting with fragrant notes from the use of rose petals. Also the use of mint tzatziki is a sauce that lifts the dish up from the adequate to the realm of excitement.
What was less successful was the roasted aubergine with chermoula. There wasn’t much chermoula or herb yoghurt although the lohz which were nuts roasted with spices and sugar gave the dish extra texture and flavour. The aubergines just didn’t look or tasted particularly enticing.
For workers local to their area, they should try their express lunch platter offer. It you don’t get your food within 20 minutes of ordering, then it is free of charge for you.
Spice roasted pears are carefully cooked so the pear softens ever so slightly during the roasting process. It is lightly sweetened and has a hint of winter spices along with the guilt-free tasting orange blossom labneh.
You have to credit founder, Barry Hilton for opening a restaurant that takes diners slightly out of their comfort zone, but rewards them with big, bold flavours.