There are many reasons why you may head to South Kensington on a trip to London – the Science Museum, the Natural History Museum, Kensington Gardens with Kensington Palace and the Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain, the Victoria and Albert Museum or the Royal Albert Hall to name a few!
However, a new restaurant, Ceru has opened that gives you a whole new reason to visit South Kensington and combined with any of the above makes a fabulous day out in the capital! Ceru is a funky and colourful Levantine restaurant that brings to you a menu filled with flavour from the Eastern Mediterranean using over one hundred fresh ingredients. The best part? – it’s all gluten free as long as you avoid the pitta bread making it perfect for anyone following a gluten free diet.
Ceru has been featured in magazines such as Time Out and has been popping up on social media making me desperate to visit! With a weekend planned in London with six friends and one of their children that included a trip to the science museum it gave me a perfect excuse – Ceru was in an ideal location for lunch for the day and with six friends I knew I’d get to sample more of the mezze style menu than if I went with my boyfriend alone.
We made a reservation due to the size of the group and turned up for a lunch time reservation on a Sunday. The waitress offered us the brunch menu and the lunch menu and talked us through the menu as newbies to the restaurant. She asked about allergies without being prompted and told me everything was gluten free when I said I was Coeliac except the pitta bread and advised 3-4 dishes per person. Other allergens are also marked on the menu making it exceptionally easily for anyone with other food allergies too.
We were offered drinks whilst looking at the menu and we all chose one of the fresh lemonades of the day, either watermelon or apple, ginger and mint. Both were delicious and refreshing and went down far too easily for the size of them and the £3.50 price tag. There was also a fabulous cocktail and wine menu too had we been drinking (note – the wine price is for a 500ml carafe and not a bottle, so when your order a bottle it’s more expensive than what is listed on the menu so don’t get caught out!)
The six of us basically ordered everything plus some pitta bread for Finlay, the two year old as even though there was a children’s menu my friend thought Fin was more likely to just munch on the bread! I love this style of eating as you get to try so much of the menu, and with it all being gluten free there was far less stress than there may be in other restaurants when trying to do this!
Dips and Salad
*Houmous with chickpeas and green chilli
I’m sure houmous is the main dish that many associate with Levantine food and can’t be missed. Such a delicious, creamy start to the meal that all my friends tucked into with crispy, divine looking grilled Pitta bread after I’d taken some houmous for myself. I was offered crudités so there was an alternative but I was happy just to try some houmous on the side (maybe I should take some gluten free pitta bread with me next time!)
Fadi is made up of roasted courgette, yoghurt, lemon, tahini and garlic. I was keen to try this dish but my friends got to it first contaminating it with pitta bread! This was not intentional, but due to not realising that it was different to the houmous and thought that they were the same dip! I will take their word for it that this tasted amazing and they described it more like a pate.
*Spiced beetroot and fennel salad
Not one for me as I don’t like beetroot but I have it on good authority that the fennel tasted absolutely amazing and made it a surprise hit for one of my friends! I don’t have photographs of everything as it was almost impossible with lots of dishes coming to the table so fast and with everyone eager to tuck in this was one I missed!
*Crisp apple, mint and pomegranate salad
A stand out salad was the crisp apple, mint and pomegranate salad for being so fresh and a little bit different! Pomegranates popped up in quite a few dishes adding flavour and a colour pop to the photos!
*Spiced warm cauliflower and walnut salad
One of my friends, Louise is vegetarian so we always have to try and make sure there are enough vegetarian options adding to the number of dishes we normally order but that means we also get to try more of the menu between us! This dish was ordered as an extra dish when the roasted pumpkin that we originally tried to order wasn’t available. Not a hit with everyone as many seemed to not like either the walnuts or the cauliflower but Louise like it and said it wasn’t too spicy for her either which is always a worry when something is called spicy in the description!
Grilled prawns are always a good idea! These were delicious and served with a dried lime and coriander labneh and a finger bowl!! (Labneh is yoghurt that has been strained to remove its whey – I had to look it up!)
*Fillet of sea bream
Unfortunately we tried to order this but it wasn’t available, so that was two dishes off the menu we couldn’t have.
*Spice battered squid
For me any restaurant that has calamari that is done gluten free makes the restaurant an absolute winner before I’ve even tried the food! I absolutely love love love calamari and one of the things I really miss being able to order. These for me were the star of the show, served up golden, crispy and really hot with a harissa yoghurt they were unbelieveable and I’d happily go to Ceru and just order several bowls of these! If you like calamari make sure you order these!!
Meat and Poultry
Not only is the restaurant clued up on allergens, all the meat is from British farms and certified as halal so they cater for all diets.
The restaurant’s signature dish is the lamb shoulder that has been slow roasted for five hours in a secret blend of twelve shawarma spices and served with a pomegranate, fresh mint and pistachio sauce. The signature dish in a restaurant should always be ordered and this is no exception. Fragrant, tender and delicious – everyone was going back for more!
With some stand out dishes in terms of taste, gluten free ness or colour making them the stars of the Instagram world I’d seen lots of pictures and posts for the lamb shoulder, the calamari and the apple, mint and pomegranate salad. This meant there were quite a few dishes like the merez chicken that I hadn’t seen much about making it a surprise when this chicken dish packed full of flavour and served on a lentil and mint salad was one of my favourites.
The other chicken dish on the menu was the paprika and lemon marinated chicken skewers that were also tasty and served up with a herby yogurt dip.
These aromatic spiced beef patties served with edamame beans and caramelised onion were another flavoursome dish but not a hit with everyone as they were a bit mushy in texture.
With Louise being vegetarian we ordered plenty of the vegetarian dishes, especially as they included a halloumi dish – I mean who doesn’t love halloumi??!
*Grilled halloumi and red peppers
Predictably this was a stand out dish for everyone especially Louise who thought it was absolutely amazing and wanted to order more!!
Louise had most of this dish with everyone tucking into the meat and fish dishes and she loved it, but thought the portion size was quite small.
*Zuccini and feta fritters
These had been recommended to me a few times on social media and whilst I appreciated the flavours and cheesiness, they were a bit mushy for me as I expect a fritter to be much crispier so after high expectations I was left a bit disappointed by this dish although they were nice. This was what Fin ate for lunch though, but only once it was sandwiched in his pitta bread as that’s the only way he would eat his ‘burger’!
For a large group it’s so difficult to know how much to order, so just to make sure we had enough we ordered some side dishes!
*Spice roasted potatoes
Not everyone was sure by the end of the meal if we had needed these but I loved the potatoes, so well seasoned and tasty and gave me a bit of a carb hit that everyone else would have got from the pitta bread!
An Arabic scented rice dish that was fragrant and delicious although probably not necessary with all the other food!
We were offered dessert which I would have loved to have tried with a choice of a chocolate mousse, lemon sorbet or what would have been my choice – the taste of baklava. This was a cardomon icecream served with nut brittle and burnt honey caramel. However that will have to be tried on a return visit as we had just about used up our luck at seating a two year old quietly who was desperate to go and see the rockets he had been promised were at the science museum!
I thoroughly enjoyed my meal and felt safe eating there from the waitresses knowledge, the clearly marked menu and the open kitchen. The restaurant is clean, colourful and loved, which shows throughout (including in the toilets!) I loved that I could sample so much of the menu and enjoy my experience as much as everyone else and I will definitely be back. Hopefully next time it will include brunch and dessert! Thank you to Ceru for making our lunch such an awesome, relaxing experience which isn’t always the case when you have coeliac! I recommend this place to everyone visiting London for a delicious hassle free gluten free meal, just don’t forget to order the calamari…
The Sightseeing Coeliac x