After months of unfortunate closures of restaurants during the lockdown period, it was a breath of fresh air to see the restaurant industry come to life once again, and one gem of a restaurant that I recently had the opportunity to visit was none other than Ceru in South Kensington. Founded by husband-and-wife team Barry and Patricia Hilton, the inspiration for Ceru came from Barry’s food and drink explorations around the various countries that form the Levant. Using authentic ingredients and cooking methods, the menu is an exciting flavour journey that provides an insight into the rich food heritage of the region.
I first had a taste of their Levantine cuisine about five years ago at their pop-up on Cannon Street, and it is truly a joy to see how they have progressed since to now have two well-established restaurant sites.
The restaurant has a warm and welcoming feel to it, and they also have a newly expanded Al fresco dining area for those wanting to make the most of those precious summer days.
We made ourselves comfortable in one of their cosy booth tables and ordered a couple of aperitif cocktails to start with: the chic CERU Cosmopolitan made with Absolut Citron, Triple Sec, lime, & cranberry, and the Figaro made with fig liquor, Triple Sec, lime, Angostura, fresh mint, topped with a frothy layer of egg white foam. Later on we shared a carafe of red wine – if ever in doubt, you can trust Barry to make some excellent recommendations from their well-curated Levantine wine list to suit your taste preferences.
Their menu is based on sharing plates, categorised into Dips, Salads, Vegetarian, Seafood, Meat, Poultry, and Side Orders. They usually recommend around 3 dishes per person, depending on how hungry you are – I made sure to have a light lunch that day so that I could build up an appetite for the feast that lay ahead that evening!
We started with the Three in One which included a spoonful of all three of their delicious dips, as well as the CERU Hamara, a tangy red pepper dip topped with walnuts and pomegranate molasses, which was probably our favourite amongst the dips that we tried. These came served with a basket of freshly baked Greek pita bread, which is usually complimentary with all their dips.
To make the most of the experience, we ordered a selection from each category – everything sounded extremely tantalizing that we certainly felt spoilt for choice! Salads are always a nice summer option, and we went for the peach, feta & red onion salad, mixed with corn, red chilli, pistachio, and aromatic fresh herbs. This was definitely one of the best salads that I have had in a while, and I am now tempted to replicate this refreshing bowl of goodness at home with the ripe peaches that I have back home in my fridge.
As a huge fan of cauliflower, the spiced warm cauliflower & walnut undoubtedly caught my attention, garnished with pomegranate, spring onion and mint. The zucchini & feta fritters were also really moreish, accompanied by a mint and dill yoghurt. We also shared a side order of spiced polenta & feta fries that is always a popular option.
King prawns are almost always a must order option for me, and the juicy Karides, with its crisp and springy texture, definitely lived up to my expectations, sautéed to perfection with tomato, dill and fenugreek. Last but not least, we were recommended their signature lamb shoulder dish which had been slow roasted for five hours in their secret blend of 12 Shawarma spices. Incredibly tender and well-marinated throughout, the flavours came together in harmony with the pomegranate sauce, fresh mint and pistachio.
Finishing off on a high, we shared a couple of their desserts including their indulgent dark chocolate mousse with tahini and crystalised ginger, and the Flavours of Baklava ice cream which was cardamom ice cream sprinkled with a nut brittle and burnt honey caramel. A sweet end to a wonderful meal, which made me reminisce about my first visit so many years ago.
Conveniently located just a short walk from some of London’s best museums and the shopping destinations such as that of Knightsbridge and Chelsea, Ceru is a hidden gem that is perfect for a quick and casual lunch, or a more intimate meal out with loved ones.
Bookings are not essential and walk-ins are always welcome, but if you would like to reserve a table give them a ring on 020 3195 3001, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or book online via their online booking system. Covid-19 Health & Safety Protocols have been put in place since they reopened, so rest assured that you will be able to dine at ease.
Ceru are also participating in the Eat Out to Help Out Scheme where you can get a 50% discount on food or non-alcoholic drinks when you dine in (up to a maximum of £10 discount per diner) every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday between 3rd and 31st August.
- I was invited to review Ceru South Kensington – views and photos are my own.