Soho was once home to all things debauchery and wickedly devilish delight, late night antics with a sprinkle of naughty dust, but in recent years this hub for all things ‘fun and revelry’ has transformed into a ‘communal’ area to share good food and drink, with twinklings of melodic laughter, as it’s restaurant and bar portfolio has expanded over the years. Next to the sunset strip clubs and magic taverns are rows upon rows of restaurants vying for a greedy consumers attention, luring them in with their carefully crafted scents of freshly baked breads and authentic Italian pizzas. But sandwiched in between the independent coffee shops and the vegan cafes, lies a new restaurant in town, one that hopes to turn ‘Mediterranean’ cuisine on its head, with its supply of fresh Levantine dishes. It’s name is simple Ceru Soho, a welcome hodgepodge of Middle Eastern staples from Turkish, Israeli, Syrian and Lebanese cuisine that promises to deliver a foodgasm so breathtaking you will be gasping for air. It’s a riot of colour, an explosion of taste and a mash up of texture that gives Ceru its name, translated as standing for an acronym of pleasure principles; C is for catastrophically delicious food that will lure you into a food coma, E is for exciting combinations of flavours and cultures that will take you through an alternative journey of the Middle East and Mediterranean, R is for ridiculously colourful dishes that take you into a child’s kaleidoscopic world and U is for… well You, as you embark on a culinary adventure that will make other gastronomic gems pale in comparison.
Night and day Ceru Soho lies in wait without fail, a small but intimate restaurant whose decor might be simple but its menu has the power to ‘make you stay’. There is the standard ‘shakshuka’ and portions of halluomi to please lovers of Mediterranean cuisine and while delicious, don’t be afraid to try something new, with fresh and seasonal salads like the white bean and vine tomato salad transporting you into a holiday from another time or a naughty treat like Spiced Polenta & Feta Fries, scattered with oodles of lovingly placed coriander and chili, that will make this a foodgasm that you wouldn’t want to end. Vegetarians and meat eaters alike can eat in commodious harmony, with meat specialties like lamb shoulder being slow roasted for 5 hours in their secret blend of 12 Shawarma spices, served with a pomegranate, fresh mint and pistachio sauce, while vegetarians can feast on Spiced Warm Cauliflower & Walnut with pomegranate, spring onion and mint, accompanied by a mouthwatering Hamara dip, made up of Tangy red pepper with walnuts and pomegranate molasses. And fish lovers rejoice for Ceru Soho is renowned for its ‘seafood selection’ with options like Salt Cod & Turmeric Potato Fritters with herb yoghurt dressing to tickle your fancy.
A technicolor dream, you would be forgiven for thinking that you have been transported into a child’s rose tinted fantasy, as you embrace new sights, new smells, new experiences in one gastronomic occasion. Cucumber martini’s and vegan wines, dance on shakshuka pans, whose vibrant red and yellow colours make primary school palettes pale in contrast. But the flavours are just as vivid and as awe inspiring as the colours Ceru Soho presents forward, ripe juicy tomatoes and well seasoned eggs, fresh herbs and spices coming together in undivided matrimony. The sides and dips are just as spectacular and as attention grabbing as the ‘mains’ although like all good Levantine branches, Ceru Soho’s portions are made to share. The hamara dip with its inclusion of red pepper and pomegranate molasses is spectacular, plunged headfirst into spiced roasted potatoes that remind you of a Moroccan restaurant you frequented in Liverpool a few years ago while the sultan Ottoman inspired salad of dried fruits, wholegrain rice, toasted almonds and olives glides down your eager throat in a smooth passage of culinary joy. Hours pass but the food still keeps coming, as you find it hard to tear yourself away from the joy that is Ceru Soho.
The desserts are plentiful for those who have a sweet tooth -Honey and Cardamom Panna Cotta with rose petals, pomegranate and pistachios- waltzing on a bed of Cardamom ice cream with a nut brittle & burnt honey caramel, but ultimately Ceru Soho is a ‘savory connoisseur’s wet dream’ flitting between a range of emotions’ that revolve around surprise, pleasure, desire and of course satisfaction. See I told you CERU stood for the components that make up the pleasure principles didn’t I? Savory or sweet tooth preferences aside, the service is just as faultless as the dishes that grace your very lips, as waiters take care to ensure that your dietary requirements and allergies are met, with even the staff having a giggle behind the scenes, demonstrating how their team effort brought the food that lies on your very table. There is a real sense of companionship and mutual respect here, as all good resturants should have, but is ingredients that very rarely graces our presence. You can see the desire and passion in their eyes, while the chefs are not segregated into one corner, floating away from the waiters; instead they come together as one, one body and mind whose desire is to please. And please they did.
Smooth, light and fruity wine and passionfruit mojitos become the tipple of the day, washed down with rustic pitta bread in freshly made hummus, you close your eyes in sensational satisfaction, it feels like magic. And even when the hours pass and your stomach bloats with food, you can’t help but go back for more, until you released into foodie stupor, where the world around you becomes rose tinted once more. And while your child like fantasy and wonder fades when you break through the Ceru Soho bubble,you can’t help but proclaim as you take your doggy bag to go, I will be back again. Yes I will!
What Are Your Thoughts On Levantine Cuisine?