What is the Levant?
The Levant region encompasses Middle Eastern countries around the Mediterranean sea and it’s dishes from this region that Ceru focuses on. The name Ceru it’s self is short for the colour Cerulean blue, a common colour used in this region.
From pop up to permanent site
I’ve eaten Ceru’s Levantine inspired food before at their temporary pop up sites: Riverside More London (in the shadow of Tower Bridge) and their restaurant offering at Standon Calling festival:
So when Ceru finally got a permanent site in South Kensington I jumped at the chance to try out the menu. A few weeks ago a group of foodies gathered in the wind and rain in an archway under Bermondsey train line. We were at Ceru’s production kitchen to try out the food and the new signature cocktails ahead of the official opening on 8th December 16.
We were greeted with this lovely gin and cucumber number – a cucumber martini made with Tanqueray gin, cucumber juice and a hint of mint. Green and refreshing, it tasted positively healthy!
Behind the scenes
As this was the production/test kitchen I took the opportunity to have a look around.
The kitchen wasn’t large, but smelt great, we knew we had some treats coming later!
The spices are key – Ceru does an amazing slow roast lamb dishes that uses 7 different spices, and they are a big feature of middle eastern cuisine. But by now I was ready to dive into the food.
Ceru is set up for people to share lots of smaller dishes – which is exactly what I like! So we started off with the dips and smaller dishes. They recommend 3 to 4 dishes per person, we definitely had more than that as we tried a lot…
Lovely courgette dip – something different from the usual hummus that you get.
After another cocktail, we tried some of the larger/main dishes.
I was loving the gin focus for the classic cocktails! Michael, who had created all the signature cocktails explained that he was trying to create drinks that would go well with food as well as twist up the classic cocktails that everyone knows. This certainly worked well!
It’s not all bread, the rice dish was a welcome change to go with the meal.
I eat all things so I loved trying this vegetarian dish. The roast fennel was gorgeous and the beetroot sweet and soft. A perfect foil for the yoghurt sauce and the crunch of the roasted almonds.
I did love these prawns – marinaded and cooked in the shell they were so flavourful, with plenty of garlic. They were then dressed with fresh lime served with a coriander lahbna.
These were amazing! I’m not a huge fan of lamb and I did love the slow cooked lamb I tried at Standon Calling, but these skewers were perfectly cooked – pink in the middle – and tender as well as being tasty. We were the first to try this lamb dish and gave it the thumbs up!
Ceru try to keep the Levantine theme running through out the menu – including the wine menu.
This wine is from Lebanon and I had actually visited the vineyard when I was travelling there, good times 🙂 We also tried a Greek white wine and they serve a selection of wines from around the Levant (Mediterranean / Middle East area) as well as some French wine (the French brought wine to that region, so ties in nicely!).
Whilst I was very full by this stage of the meal, I just had to try this chocolate mousse pot when I saw it:
I just adore those pots with the lids!
Cardamom is one of my favourite flavours so I enjoyed trying this, ice cream slips down even when you are full!
Ceru South Kensington
So Barry and Patricia Hilton are opening their first permanent restaurant on Bute Street in South Kensington on the 8th December 16. I’d fully recommend that you head down to try it out. They will be serving food all day, from breakfast through lunch and dinner. With Barry’s background from Yalla Yalla things will be good!
The restaurant has 53 covers. There are 10 seats on an outside terrace that will be warmed with car seat technology – making a seat outside an option in all weather! Inside there will be intimate booths, a large table for parties of 8-10 and some counter seats by the window. Patricia says that they will ensure that they have some tables unreserved for walk ins too.
Whilst I tried out the menu and drinks for free, dinner should cost around £35 including dessert, a drink and service (all of which goes to the staff).
Find out more and book for their soft opening period here: Ceru Restaurants