What? Exciting Levantine cuisine in a thriving small restaurant in South Kensington, bringing vibrant, colourful and fresh Eastern Mediterranean cuisine to the heart of London.

New? Ceru opened late last year to strong acclaim – we are kicking ourselves for not going sooner.

Where? Minutes from South Kensington Tube, Ceru is perfectly positioned close to the Royal Albert Hall, the museums and Knightsbridge, but hidden from the tourist hoards! 7-9 Bute Street, Kensington, SW7 3EY, www.cerurestaurants.com

ceru food

On the Menu? A plethora of colours, spices, ingredients and flavours will take your taste buds on a journey in to the Levant they won’t forget. Think of a mesmerising mix between Greek, Lebanese, Syrian and Israeli cuisine. Home-baked pitta and dips, the freshest salads – with more mint, apple and pomegranate you can shake a stick at – and deliciously spiced grilled fish and slow roasted meats with an abundance of herb yoghurts. They do a Levantine-inspired afternoon tea, too – think spiced roasted lamb shoulder Turkish brioche-style sandwiches and Turkish pistachio baklava.

First Impressions? Warm and colourful, Ceru is vivacious with some of the friendliest staff each absolutely hell-bent on ensuring we had a great time sampling the delights of the region. It’s modern and different – the restaurant, the atmosphere, the food – and we loved it. We went for dinner but could happily have settled in for a relaxed lunch chatting away the hours and picking at the wide variety of wonderful and genuinely different dishes. We also might have stolen some ideas for our kitchen on the design front…

The Look: The interior is as colourful and vibrant as the food is. Ornate illuminated panels and lively patterned fabrics set the tone, with the tables simply laid out at banquettes. Nab a seat in the table to people watch or settle in further back so you have enough space for all your plates… Oh, and the loos are worth a visit too.

What We Ate? An array of dishes, all shared between the two of us although we became increasingly selfish as the night wore on! We started with cucumber martinis before our table filled up with our starters; pancar dip (beetroot, yoghurt and crushed pistachio) with warm, crunchy home made pitta, and a crisp apple, mint and pomegranate salad with pea shoots, roasted pine nuts and chilli – fresh, tangy and sweet, with delicate hints of spice. We followed with karides (prawns with a lime and coriander labneh) and spice-battered squid with harissa yoghurt. Our waiter was almost more excited about the slow roast lamb shoulder that followed than we were, and with reason. 5 hours of cooking immersed in a secret blend of shawarma spices produces melt in your mouth lamb blanketed with a mint, pomegranate and pistachio sauce. It’s difficult to stop picking as you inch your way down the simple but varied menu. One more shish taouk (succulent paprika and lemon marinated grilled chicken breast) surely can’t harm? Save some room for the dessert though – the flavours of baklava offered a fitting end to a sumptuous dinner, I won’t ruin it for when you go!

Go With? A good group of friends who you don’t mind enjoying sharing a Levantine extravaganza with.

Final Word? Expect to hear more about Ceru – this is relaxed, fun and joyful dining at its finest. New flavours, new dishes and a new place for us to go whenever we are in the South Kensington area.

Like This? Try These: Tabun Kitchen, Morito, Arabica Bar & Kitchen

Ceru Restaurant : 7-9 Bute Street, Kensington, SW7 3EY, www.cerurestaurants.com

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