Dare I say it…? It’s finally spring!! I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy to see the sunshine before and to celebrate it (and make the most of the heatwave) I made sure I sought out a restaurant where I could eat al fresco.
Ceru doesn’t necessarily spring to mind for me when I think of eating outside but we were in the area and having enjoyed a meal there previously I decided to go back.
Ceru is siuated on a side street in South Kensington. It’s still fairly busy as there are a number of shops along it so we did have people walking past quite a bit but it wasn’t too bad. Since the weather was so lovely we decided to wait for a table from the four tables that are directly outside. The’ve decorated the pavement immediately outside the restaurant with authentic floor tiles. I’m subscribed to the #ihaveathingwithfloors hashtag so I was in my element here.
Back to the restaurant itself, CERU is a light and airy contemporary restaurant in the posh ends known as Chelsea. They’ve done a great job with the interior using accents from the region covered by the menu. CERU is just right for its location and its clientele and fits in really well.
The whole menu is based around the best of the Levantine. They source their food from London markets to serve up flavours inspired by Western Asian, Eastern Mediterranean, Northeast African and Northwest Arabian cooking.
It is also states clearly on the menu that the food is halal which to be honest is a nice change for it to be really clear.
The waitress advised that the mains don’t come with any rice or sides so everything needs to be ordered separately. I can’t go to a middle easern restaurant without ordering Shish Taouk so of course that was going to be one of the first things. In the end we opted for:
with chickpeas and green chilli
Paprika and lemon marinated grilled cubes of chicken breast, with a herb yoghurt
Grilled corn fed chicken with a lentil & mint salad, preserved lemon and dried black olives
Baby gem, sun-dried tomato, Kalamata olive, cucumber, fried capers and sumac vinaigrette
And a passion fruit mojito.
The service is attentive and not at all pushy which is always nice. The waitress was also helpful in letting us know that mains need to be ordered with something to accompany them with.
If I’m 100% honest, the food is standard. I expected a higher quality of seasoning and both times that I’ve been it just seemed as if something was lacking. Unfortunately the Shish Taouk had far too much cardamom in it this time round, and after forcing myself to eat the first two pieces on the skewer I just couldn’t do anymore. The salad also lacked the amazing dressings that are used in the middle east which was a shame. The chicken was cooked well, it’s just the flavour (or lack of) that I had a small issue with. The hummus was really good though so I was pleased with that and my passion fruit mojito was also actually something to rave about.
Price wise, it’s not cheap; I guess you do have to take location into consideration but even then I’m not entirely certain that it’s worth it. Everything has to be ordered separately so even if you don’t intend on sharing dishes, it all adds up. From someone who’s not from a Middle Eastern background but enjoys their food immensely, I have to say that although Ceru may be taking inspiration from these countries but perhaps they haven’t picked the right ingredients and combinations.
This is of course just my personal opinion and if however you do actually like sharing dishes, mezze or tapas, then Ceru may be the restaurant for you.
Would I recommend Ceru? If I had to rate the restaurant out of 10, I’d give it a 6. It’s a nice dining experience but not one to rave about, nor one I’d go out of my way to visit again.
Will I be visiting again? I don’t want to write it off completely but I think it will be a long while before dining there again.