The space: Miami Beach meets the eastern Mediterranean. The sum interiors are so chipper, for designers the look must have been either the most fun they'd ever had, or a near mathematical feat to achieve.
The brightly coloured restaurant
There's a sublime italicized logo out front in a neon ring; lemon yellow hues replace anything sensible and there's mismatched woven multicolored textile chair backs. You're anywhere but South Kensington.
Food and drink: There's an all day menu from midday, and the vibrant dishes leave the kitchen as and when they're ready. It's recommended you try 3 dishes per person, and the emphasis is on fine sourcing of single ingredients (but there's over 100 of them).
Of those 100, over 20 native spices are found on the menu. You'll begin your Levant taste journey with dips and salads (unmissable is the Pancar with roasted beetroot, yoghurt, garlic and crushed pistachio, almost electrically purple). It's all homemade, and packs real punch with the Greek pita that's fun to kiddishly rip into shreds to pair.
The colours are sublime. The beetroot, for instance, is a near-neon haze of purple and green pistachio, half of its punch in its look, a pre-requisite for the taste buds.
In the centre is the moorish Pancar, with roasted beetroot
There's seafood, meat and poultry and vegetarian sharing dishes next - because of the emphasis on fragrant flavours and colour presentation, there's no real need to try any one dish - except for the lamb shoulder. This signature dish is slow cooked for 5 hours and arrives glistening with pomegranate pearls; it is enamored by 12 spices that create a crunchy flavour layer above impossibly soft lamb.
A fillet of sea bream with lemon, oregano and chilli is our guest's highlight, and we can see why, it is not just fleshy but decorated with enough to make it a worthy main plate if you're refusing to share.
On the far right, the signature dish, lamb shoulder with pomegranate and 12 spices
Expectedly, the vegetarian dishes are nearly best - the lamb just beats them. A simple halloumi and red pepper is - like most dishes - made unique by its dressing. In this case harissa dances atop the main ingredients, a boisterous addition to the singular, well-sourced ingredients.
But we'd swerve the apple, mint and pomegranate salad, which required its apples to be diced, and the paprika lemon grilled chicken, which lacked the complexity and ingenuity seen elsewhere.
Would we return? In London there's nothing quite like Ceru. Yes, we can find big flavours and mixed spices, but served in a sublimely characterful setting that feels both classy and fun?
Just look at the cocktails - essentially beach classics and spins on classics, we ask the restaurant's owner if the sups pay heed in any way to the dishes. They don't.
That you can unashamedly sip a Cosmopolitan or French Martini while bounding through the serious food stuff of the Levant is reason enough for us to go again. Sheer unhinged joy.
|What||Ceru review, South Kensington|
|Nearest tube||South Kensington (underground)|
08 Dec 16 – 20 Dec 20, For daily opening times please visit the website
|Website||Visit Ceru's website to book a table|