In the stream of images of refugees and conflict that reach us these days from the Middle East it’s easy to forget that the area is rich in culture and history. With the new Ceru, internationally renowned UK chef Tom Kime celebrates this heritage, bringing the diverse flavours of the region to Sydney.
Having first opened around London in a series of pop-up locations and then similarly around Australia, Ceru Sydney is the first permanent location for the team of Kime and co-founder Barry Hilton. And the menu reflects this rigorous on the road testing.
Kime, who travelled around the Levant (Syria, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and Cyprus) sampling and collecting local recipes, has crafted a delightful menu that respects tradition while showcasing the chef’s creativity and attention to detail.
The starter dips (the Four in One ($17) lets you sample each) are packed with taste from the bright roasted beetroot Pancar ($11) with wonderful hints of cinnamon to the Fadi ($11) – fried baby zucchini puree with tahini and roast garlic – served with freshly baked pita.
Perfect for sharing, the decently sized mezze plates are fun, surprisingly filling and immensely satisfying. Forget any expectations about dry and overbearing meals, from classic lamb meatballs ($18) with sweet and sour cherry, karaz spices and cucumber yoghurt to spiced, crispy fried squid ($16) with harissa yoghurt dressing there’s a wealth of flavours and textures.
Even the salad – crisp apple, mint and pomegranate ($12) with green chili, lemon juice and roasted pine nuts – fizzes with flavour (and really exemplifies the consideration Kime has put into his each dish).
Three dishes each was more than enough but with delicious desserts like Turkish rice pudding ($10) – with honey, pistachio, cinnamon, vanilla, poached fruits – and the creative flavours of baklava ($11) honeycomb ice cream – with roast nut brittle and burnt honey caramel – on offer who could resist.
There are also cocktails with an Eastern Mediterranean twist, a smart wine list of Australian, Kiwi and European wines and beer, cider and homemade lemonades.
Kime and Hilton have clearly put a lot of thought into the entire enterprise from sustainably sourced seafood and free range meats to the feng shui-informed colour scheme and venue redesign. With a large communal table (made from rescued wood) and smaller settings, polished concrete floors and a muted, earthen colour scheme the restaurant itself is warm and clean with a modern Mediterranean feel.
Situated a stone’s throw from Kings Cross Station Ceru couldn’t be more accessible which is great because this enjoyable little window into a colourful region is well worth travelling to. Bring your friends, share and enjoy!
Monday: 7am – 11pm
Tuesday: Friday: 7am – midnight
Saturday: 8am – midnight
Sunday: 8am – 10pm