Test Drives

lamb shoulder dishesSlow roasted lamb shoulder

What do I need to know?

The Levantine pop-up has found a permanent spot in South Kensington. Ceru serves up colourful mezze encompassing flavours from the Mediterranean and Middle East – all inspired by the founders’ travels across the region.

Where will I find it?

On Bute Street, just off Old Brompton Road– less than five minutes’ walk from South Kensington tube station.

The location means it’s a great pit-stop if you’re visiting one of the nearby museums, shopping in Knightsbridge or heading to a show at the Royal Albert Hall. With a breakfast menu (including the current foodie favourite Shakshuka), express lunch platters, and afternoon tea launching later this year, it’s set up to be buzzing all day with groups of diners.

Where can I meet friends for a drink first?

There’s a lovely cosy pub just across the road, the Zetland Arms, but make sure you start your meal at Ceru with one of their cocktails. There’s a great selection of refreshing, fruity drinks (all £7.50) including their favourite, the Passionista– a vodka, passionfruit and lime mix, smoothed with egg white – and a booze-free apple mojito. The perfect palate preparation for the food to come.

halloumi peppersFried halloumi and grilled red peppers

Where’s should I sit?

There are under 50 seats in the bright, tiled restaurant with an open kitchen to the rear. Make yourselves comfortable in one of the booths for two, or watch over proceedings at high stools perched at the window and alongside the kitchen. There are also a few seats outside which are heated – but we’re sure will be more popular in the warmer months. The style of food makes Ceru a great option for group dining, in which case we reckon it would be worth booking ahead.

What can I expect from the food?

A vibrant combination of vegetables, salads, seafood, meat and dips, all made with fresh produce sourced from London’s markets. Dishes are delivered to the table as they’re cooked - quick and fresh.

Everything on the menu is gluten free (apart from the pita bread) and there are plenty of interesting vegetarian options. All this makes it sound remarkably healthy, however there’s no compromise on the depth of flavours, so you certainly won’t feel like you’re abstaining.

karides prawnsKarides (prawns)

So, what should I order?

Three to four dishes per person is recommended, and while it was difficult to restrain ourselves when faced with the sprawling menu, the generous dishes were just the right amount (with a little room left for dessert, too).

Meat eaters should definitely order Ceru’s signature Slow Cooked Lamb Shoulder(£10) –succulent and warmly seasoned with a “secret blend” of 12 Shawarma spices, accompanied by a pomegranate, mint and pistachio sauce.

The Shish Taouk(£8) –paprika and lemon marinated chicken –and Rose Scented Lamb Kebab Skewers (£9.50) both served with herby yoghurt dips, were also tender and full of flavour.

For seafood, we opted for the Karides(£9), large garlic prawns with a dried lime and coriander labneh, and Spice Battered Squid (£7) with a harissa yoghurt, which was beautifully crisp and light.

We couldn’t resist the houmous (£4) and some Fried Halloumi and Grilled Red Peppers (£6.50) and were recommended the Crisp Apple, Mint & Pomegranate Salad, which complemented the richer dishes perfectly.

Other interesting veggie options on the menu include Zucchini and Feta Fritters, Roasted Pumpkin and Spiced Cauliflower, all of which would give you a well-rounded selection to pick at.  We suggest inviting plenty of friends along with you for the excuse to try as many different dishes as possible. 

To end on something sweet, the Flavours of Baklava (£5.25),a Cardamom ice cream with a nut brittle & burnt honey caramel, and Dark Chocolate Mousse (£4.50) with sour cherry and pistachio are both delicious and beautifully presented options.

lamb kabab chicken shish taoukRose scented Lamb Kebab

And what about the wine list?

Like the food, the wine list originates mostly in the Levant, all served by the glass of carafe (from £6.50-£25) allowing you to explore lesser-known grapes and regions. The staff were well informed and open with recommendations. We tried the IXSIR from Lebanon and Turkish Narince.

Overall…

A feast for the eyes and palate. The colourful plates, bright pomegranate jewels, lemon slices and rose petals are just final touches, while the fresh and flavourful produce is the real star of the show here. Ceru allows the perfect opportunity to discover new ingredients, and interesting takes on old favourites – all reasonably priced, too. You’ll be looking for an excuse to go back for the dishes you couldn’t quite squeeze in the first time.

Ceru is at 7-9 Bute St, Kensington, London SW7 3EY. Find out more about Ceru.

Hot Dinners were invited to Ceru. Prices are correct at the time of writing. 

 

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