A Spot of Sunshine in South Kensington – Ceru:
Last week was my third visit to Ceru. Each time, I’ve been to a different location – a pop-up in Fitzrovia, another on Bankside and finally, a permanent location in South Kensington. It’s a big transition, from pop-up to permanent, somewhere you hope your customers will make a regular appearance and where you need to come back the next morning after every night’s business. So, mostly because I’ve always had a soft spot for Ceru, I really hoped I’d love the new, permanent place.
It turned out to be everything I hoped for.
Inside the small and cosy restaurant, there are tables and booths if you prefer a little more privacy. And, the menu is full of dishes I remember and love with a healthy sprinkling of new dishes too.
The wine list is almost entirely from the Lebanon, Greece and Turkey and nothing other than the (French) champagne at £36 a bottle is over £25, though wine is served in 500ml carafes, which in my book is the perfect quantity for two. We picked a mellow, fruity Cuvee des Emirs Clos St Thomas from the Lebanon (£23).
We started with Fadi which is a dip made from roasted courgette, yoghurt, lemon and tahini. It came with a generous portion of crudites and flat bread and at £5.50 it was both delicious and excellent value.
Spice roasted beetroot and fennel salad came with a cardamom labneh and lohz (spiced roasted almonds). It’s the sort of dish I will try to replicate and home and almost certainly fail at doing so. The flavour combination of the earthy beetroot with the sweet aniseed notes of the fennel was delicious.
Zucchini and feta fritters, the first hot dish of the evening, were delicious. A crisp outer coating with a soft, fluffy centre on a lightly minted yoghurt dressing. The Ceru menu has a good selection of vegetarian and vegan dishes and it’s the sort of place where you simply don’t miss the meat.
We did however, indulge in two meat options. The slow roasted lamb shoulder is spiced with a secret blend of 12 Shawarma spices and seasoned with a pomegranate, fresh mint and pistachio sauce. I’ve had it before and loved it before. It didn’t disappoint and I’d recommend that any carnivorous diner tries it.
Shish Taouk was a deliciously tender paprika and lemon marinated grilled chicken breast with a herby yoghurt sauce. Another dish I’d be happy to order again.
Our final savoury dish was a plate of Karides, whole grilled garlic prawns with a dried lime and coriander labneh. Beautifully presented, these were deliciously tender and perfectly cooked.
We probably shouldn’t have indulged in desserts, but in the interest of research opted for a bowl of spiced roasted pears with an orange blossom labneh and a dish called ‘flavours of baklava’ which is a cardamom ice cream with a nut brittle and burnt honey caramel. Neither dessert was overly sweet or heavy and, instead of just tasting a mouthful, we ended up finishing the lot.
That, for me, is a sign both of how good the food was and how well balanced the dishes were. It’s not the kind of meal where you walk out feeling bloated, even if, like us, you order just a little more food than you perhaps should do.
7-9 Bute St,
London SW7 3EY
Disclosure: We were guests of Ceru.