Whenever I’m in London, I’ll often find myself strolling around Soho in search of delicious food to share with friends. What can I say?! Girl has her priorities straight! The majority of my work commitments will have me wandering central London and so when an invitation popped into my inbox telling me all about CERU’s new Soho branch launch, I jumped at the opportunity to visit and share a review.
CERU serve vibrant Levantine cuisine in charming, modern diners. Their first, oh so popular branch is based in South Kensington, but I couldn’t think of a more perfect location for their second opening than on D’Arblay Street in the heart of Soho. Bifold doors at the front allow for an alfresco-inspired experience and the interior is wonderfully set up to allow for cosy yet spacious group dining.
I took my sister along so that she could sample some of the meat dishes to provide a well-rounded review. And I’m glad she was there because the portions are generous to say the least!
We were each welcomed with a cocktail, their Soho special ‘Pistachio Meringue’ which was absolutely delicious, if not way more strong than expected! Their cocktail menu is extensive: ideal for a dinner and drinks situ.
Food wise, we were recommended to order 3-4 dishes per person and that we did. We ordered three dishes each and it proved to be more than enough. In fact, I’d go as far as to say you probably only need 2-3 dishes each. The portions are big and each dish is packed with flavour.
First, we ordered some obligatory houmous. Dressed with chickpeas and green chilli and served with a basket of freshly baked flatbread, we lapped all of this up in its’ moreish glory. The houmous was thick, expertly flavoured and the kick of green chilli was absolutely delicious. You can also choose to order three dips in a bowl, but we weren’t feeling adventurous that night. I’d totally do so next time though!
Next came the spice-battered squid with harissa yoghurt. So. Good. Beware, the bowl is huge and you’ll likely not finish the serving unless there are several of you! The yoghurt was the perfect fresh accompaniment to a classic calamari dish. Great for cleansing the palate in-between flavour-loaded dishes like…
The signature CERU lamb shoulder was the first thing my guest Louise wanted to order. It’s slow roasted for 5 hours in the restaurant’s secret blend of 12 Shawarma spices, and finished with a pomegranate, fresh mint and pistachio sauce. And Louise absolutely loved it! She noted that the meat was tender and melt-in-your-mouth soft, flavoured incredibly if not a little salty, and the sauce was the perfect counter for the marinade. I must admit that it smelled incredible and was *almost* disappointed not to be able to try it for myself.
However, CERU prides itself on a menu packed with vegetarian and vegan options, so the rest of our meal was a dream for me! I of course couldn’t resist ordering the grilled halloumi and red pepper with harissa dressing. Not much to write home about but you can’t beat a plate of halloumi and peppers on the table. It was great to top us up and dip into.
We also ordered the zucchini and feta fritters with mint and dill yoghurt which sounded delicious on paper, but were far too salty and dense to truly enjoy. Having said that, I do think my tastes are simply changing as I’m not a huge fan of most cheese at the moment!
To tide us over, we ordered a bowl of Orez CERU, which is Arabic scented fried rice with crispy onions, sultanas and parsley, and I think this might have even been the highlight of our entire meal! It’s light, fragrant and beautifully put together, making a great accompaniment to the other dishes. It’s a side, but I’d happily eat several bowls of this.
Lastly, we rounded off the meal with dark chocolate mousse and lemon sorbet, despite feeling far too stuffed to feel like we could enjoy it. Turns out, we were wrong! The dark chocolate mousse was rich and smooth, filled with sour cherries that provided a delicious hit of flavour, while the lemon sorbet proved a great way to cleanse the palate and allow us to leave feeling refreshed.
I’d absolutely love to head back with a whole group of friends to sample their weekend brunch menu, and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend their usual menu for a vibrant, flavourful dinner.
Are you a fan of Levantine and Middle Eastern flavours? And are you tempted to visit CERU’s stunning new branch soon?
11 D’Arblay Street, Soho, London.