VALUE FOR MONEY: 6/10
VENUE & ATMOSPHERE: 6.5/10
Note: Alcohol is served on the menu. No pork is served.
Photography has slowly taken over my life. It started as a small hobby. I loved the idea of capturing a moment in time, a moment that you would then never forget. My new obsession developed to such an extent that on a weekly basis I would venture out to any ‘photo hotspot’ I could find. Wind, rain or shine, I would stand there and shoot. The adrenaline would take over, and I wouldn’t feel the cold or the harshness of the wind anymore. I would just …shoot. What does this have to do with food? Well on this occasion, on one of my shooting ventures to the Natural History Museum and Science Museum, I convinced ShakerFries that we should grab brunch in South Kensington. CERU is a a contemporary Levantine restaurant which serves dishes inspired by the flavours of the Eastern Mediterranean coast.
It was around midday by the time we reached the restaurant. We never really travel to ‘that neck of the woods’ given that it feels a million miles away from the working class land of Ilford. With that in mind, midday wasn’t the worst time to arrive for brunch. The restaurant was fairly busy and we were seated instantly.
The brunch menu had changed since I saw it last via the Halal Gems website. now the brunch menu was also restricted to Saturdays and Sundays between 11am–5pm. I was told that the menus are all seasonal and changed every few months though, which is fair as it ensures a good variety of food. All meat is halal, although alcohol is served on the premises. The social media manager also told me that despite serving halal meat, they don’t seem to have a huge Muslim market.
We were starving, and so I ordered the spicy lamb hash with flaked slow cooked lamb, red chilli, edamame, fresh coriander and green peppers served with a fried egg. ShakerFries ordered the halloumi shakshuka with baked eggs in tomato sauce and pan fried halloumi cheese.
The lemonades are supposed to be one of Ceru’s specialities, and they have a different menu every day. This time the specials included watermelon lemonade, and ginger, mint apple and lime lemonade. We ordered one of each!
The food arrived in good time, and was presented well, although at first glance I couldn’t help but feel that my plate was a bit bare. The shakshuka was a decent portion size and looked extremely appetizing, however there were only 2 small slices of flat bread which came with it. Given that ShakerFries is a serial bread eater, who likes to mop up every last ounce of whatever he eats for breakfast (and rightly so in this case as there was a lot of tomato), we had to order an extra portion of flatbread.
The lamb hash was incredibly tasty with a small spicy kick. I did enjoy it, and you could tell that the meat was of a high quality and was also perfectly cooked. That being said, I still didn’t feel that the portion size was big enough. I’m a small eater, and even after sharing ShakerFries’s bread and shakshuka, I was only just about content. I’m not sure how I feel about that given that we had paid £9.50 for the lamb and £8.50 for the shakshuka. I was honest about this to the Social Media manger after our meal, and she explained that cost comes from the fact that the meat is high in quality and is slow cooked. I’m not sure.. I just think it perhaps wasn’t value for money. But that’s my opinion.
The shakshuka tasted better, and the halloumi was the perfect accompaniment. The tomato herby sauce surrounding the eggs could have done with just a tad more seasoning, but overall I think we both enjoyed this.
For me, the homemade lemonades were probably one of the best part of this meal. Made only with fresh ingredients and homemade flavoured syrups, CERU lemonades were chilled, refreshing, and presented beautifully in a petite bottle with a straw. ShakerFries preferred the watermelon lemonade, whereas I loved the tangy. ginger taste of the other lemonade.
The bill came to around £30, and the service was good. I mean, despite being on the pricey side it was kind of expected given that we were in South Kensington. That being said I feel a bit torn writing this post. If I’m being true to myself I wasn’t overly blown away by the flavours of the food (I mean I make a damn good shakshuka so there was a bit of expectation there), and I felt a tiny bit cheated by the portion size. Ceru is great if you are looking for halal options in the area, although I don’t think I will be visiting here again too soon. I’m conflicted. I don’t know. Let’s just say that my shooting experiences of prehistoric whale skeleton’s as slightly more exciting than my dining experience.