If CERU was a hotel, I’d stay there the entire weekend. Pack my bags with homey, yet de rigueur attire and never leave the premises, because there simply wouldn’t be any reason to. Sadly, CERU in Kensington is a restaurant, so I am only able to loll about in there for a couple of hours. During my visit, pre-lockdown 2.0, I made the most out of those sublime moments, taking in everything my sight and senses could fathom.
If this is your first time hearing of Levantine cuisine, you’re in for a palatable surprise, as CERU offers dishes inspired from the region. Covering a large area of the Eastern Mediterranean zone, Levantine food includes Cyprus, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Syria, and parts of southern Turkey near Adana, Gaziantep, and Antakya.
Upon arrival, I was greeted by one of their many welcoming staff who, regardless of how many tables filled up after we sat down, attended to our every request promptly. On their website, they promise that CERU is “a place where dining out feels like eating in; a home away from home, where you’ll be surrounded by great food and drink as well as great company.” After my feast there, I can assure you that every single promise was kept, and if I could rate the experience a 10/5, I’d create numerous email addresses and submit my satisfactory review several times over.
The decor is tasteful and has an authentic character. There wasn’t a sign of pretentiousness – regardless of its location in Kensington, my surroundings excluded Instagram influencers taking selfies and capturing flashing pictures of every dish placed before them.
As two girls who eat absolutely everything and anything, we had to ask the staff for their advice on what dishes to pick, because the menu came with an abundance of temptation. For diners who have fewer options when eating out, or for those who have allergies, along with signature meat dishes, the menu offers a variety of vegan and vegetarian options. The entire menu is also gluten-free, excluding the Greek pitta bread which comes with a dip, but customers can have seasonal crudités instead of the bread.
We were both advised to pick three plates from the menu as they came in small servings, so we both selected dishes to share between us. While we waited for the food to arrive, we ordered ourselves the Guava Candy cocktail, and let me tell you, if I fail to cut down on my alcohol consumption, this drink will be the reason why. It was sweet enough, but not to the point where your teeth would ache afterwards.
If heated, crispy pitta bread with a hummus mezze selection isn’t your thing then it’s because you haven’t had it at CERU. After making our way through two baskets of bread, our food babies rapidly growing, another round of plates arrived to fill us to the brim, and feed the bundles of joy developing inside us.
From their apple, mint and pomegranate salad to the spiced polenta and feta fries, we continued to wipe away the contents of each serving. One dish which stood out, in particular, was their trademark lamb shoulder. It is slow-roasted for five hours in their secret blend of 12 Shawarma spices, with a pomegranate sauce, fresh mint and pistachio. It was the type of lamb which fell apart at the touch of a silver folk. I still think about it till this day.
After feeling dazed from all the excitement and countless delectable dishes, we still had an appetite for something sugary, so we ordered the dark chocolate mousse with tahini and ginger to see the night off, and believe me it tastes even better than it sounds.
It’s no wonder that the food tastes the way it does, considering they use the freshest produce sourced from London’s local markets. Unfortunately, we did have to leave at some point, but we left hooked on all things CERU. I’m now eagerly waiting for this second lockdown to lift so we can go back. And if you can’t wait until then, which I’m not sure I will, they are offering takeaways, and also have Cook At Home Delivery bundles, which will launch in 3-4 weeks, just before Christmas.
These are sustainable meal kits which come to your door wrapped in specially-designed textile cloth wraps, with patterns inspired by the geometric tiles of the Levant and other distinctive Middle Eastern motifs. They come in environmentally conscious packaging with easy-to-follow instructions and can be prepared in under half an hour with perfectly proportioned ingredients, spices and sauces.
When lockdown eventually lifts, I would like to go back and try the Beef Fillet, which is grilled and served with a zhug dressing and crushed hazelnuts. Their meat game is strong, and it’s one of many reasons why you should add CERU to your list of places to eat in London.
Keep your eyes peeled for the launch, and in the meantime, follow CERU on Instagram for restaurant updates.
Address: 7–9 Bute Street, London SW7 3EY
Contact: 020 3195 3001