Ceru, South Kensington

A rainy Saturday in London, and we popped into a new restaurant that we’d noticed on Bute Street in South Kensington. The last time we’d walked by, the restaurant was jam-packed with people… so we made a note to come back another weekend. Easter weekend, we headed on over to give it a try.

The menu is a mix of what they call Levantine food, basically a pan-middle eastern (from Turkey down to Israel, Syria and Palestine, as well as Cyprus… ) variety, divided on the menu into dips, salads, then by protein or vegetable.

We started with the spiced cauliflower salad, served with pommegranate seeds, spring onion, and walnuts. The combination of the ingredients was nice, but I found that the large pieces of cauliflower didn’t have much taste (or this spice that was mentioned…), so unless you piled on the spring onion, parsley, walnut and spring onion, you just had some cauliflower with not much taste. But pile on the rest, and it was a nice combo.

After this came the fritters, zucchini and feta fritters served on top of a mint and dill yogurt. This was a lovely little dish… the feta in the fritters was strong enough to given the fritters real taste (sometimes with a fritter, you get the texture of some kind of patty, but aren’t really sure what’s inside)… here, you tasted salty, creamy feta with the stringier texture of the courgette. With the lightly flavoured yogurt sauce underneath, it was delightful.

Then, the shakshuka, which was the reason we were there in the first place 🙂 What I liked about it is that its less tomato-ey (maybe fruity?) than most shakshukas, and much more smoky… which I appreciated. To the point that we sopped up all of the leftover bits of the sauce, once the eggs were done. (And, by the way, with some lovely, fluffy pita bread that they served on the side).

After that came the aubergine, roasted with chermoula and served with an herb yogurt and lohz. This dish was unexpected… in the way that the cauliflower had less taste than expected, the aubergine had more. Tenderly roasted, it made a great base for the yogurt and nuts. (By the way, the lohz, as I had to look it up, is roasted nuts mixed with sugar and spices, then sprinkled with some lemon juice and salt. Think of it like having some spiced, candied pecans on top of your food.) Anyway, the lohz was a real winner with the aubergine and yogurt.

Then came the kofta… it was really nice, spiced beef with edamame beans and caramelised onions mixed in… very fragrant and the edamame was a nice addition! All on top of a tartar sauce that was more yogurt and less relish… I really enjoyed this dish!

So my thoughts overall? It really depended on the dish, some were real winners while others were a bit more boring… I wouldn’t rush back here, but it will definitely make it into the local brunches list for when we need something a bit different!

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