Places To Eat In London: Ceru, Soho
It’s summer, so while I’m spending most of my meals barbecuing at my parents house in Kent or eating salads and bar snacks with a load of drinks in the garden of my local pub, when I do venture into the city for a meal I’m after something served as small plates so I can eat as much or as little as I like, something with big, sunshine flavours, and somewhere that serves great wine and creative, fruity cocktails. Therefore, I was really excited when the team at Ceru invited me for lunch in Soho (they also have a restaurant in South Kensington) to try out their delicious all day menu of small plates inspired by the Levantine.
Starting lunch with a couple of cocktails, I cut through the heat with a beautifully refreshing (and still really flavourful) cucumber martini. If you’re even tempted by a cucumber drink, get one of these. Like me, J is a big fan of all things rosewater and Turkish Delight, so he ordered a Turkish Delight, made with vodka, strawberry juice, rosewater and cranberry, and garnished with a delicious, melt in the mouth piece of Turkish Delight – it was lovely, and the drinks were perfect to enjoy while browsing the menu.
Start with some dips, which come with a basket of their fantastic, warm, house pitta to scoop them up with. You can’t miss their house hammara (roasted peppers, walnuts and pomegranate molasses) which is incredibly tangy and more-ish. If you can’t choose, spoonfuls of three different dips instead.
Next, along with a nice carafe of Levantine wine (try some of the Middle Eastern wines there as they’re wonderful, ask the staff if you need help – though I should note that while our servers were lovely and our food came out really fast, they were really, really slow with both sets of drinks!) came one of the best salads I’ve had in a very, very long time. Beautiful slices of peaches, crumbled feta, red onion, pistachios, a tangy, zingy dressing. While the rest of the food we had was excellent, I could happily eat just this salad, some pitta and that dip (which we ate with most of our dishes) for my lunch most days.
Next we had a couple of seafood dishes. prawn skewers with a lovely coriander and lime labneh (great flavours, but just too fiddly to eat) and some fantastic salt cod fritters made with turmeric mashed potatoes – J loved these, hoovering most of them up!
Moving on to the meat dishes, the chicken shish were great and went so well with many of our other dishes, but the meaty must order from the menu is the slow cooked lamb shoulder roasted for five hours with a whole myriad of spices, before being served with pomegranate molasses and seeds, pistachios and fresh mint. Fantastic flavours you can cut through with a spoon, and really great for sharing.
Our sides contained a hit and a miss: you simply have to get the aromatic, light and beautifully spiced Orez (Arabic scented fried rice) topped with a generous serving of crisp, not oily fried shallots, though while they looked great and one or two were lovely (especially dipped in our hummara) the polenta and feta fries – while perfectly crisp – were a bit boring compared to everything else.
For pudding we each had our own, but ended up sharing a fair bit of each others. My must order from this selection was the ‘Flavours of Baklava’, a fantastically creamy cardamom ice cream served with nut brittle and a burnt honey caramel, but my honey and cardamom panna cotta served with pistachios and dried rose petals was also ridiculously light and creamy.
Thanks so much to Ceru for a delicious lunch! Do check out their menu online and book a table. Also, if you work near one of their restaurants it is worth highlighting their wonderful looking express lunch option (the table next to us were having it with house made, flavour of the day lemonades that came in a little milk bottle with a stripy straw) which is a platter of either lamb or veggies with a selection of their dishes and dips all on one big plate for only £9 (or free, if your food does not arrive in 20 minutes!)