Ceru Sydney has opened in Potts Point bringing the food of the Levant by internationally renowned UK chef Tom Kime to Sydney. Occupying the space under the Larmont Hotel, the venue is a conveniently located near Kings Cross station.
Inside, the inviting restaurant channels a Mediterranean feel with its neutral tones and blue accents, copper down lights, tiled walls, an oxidised copper bar with turquoise highlights and recycled railway timbers. Cosy booths, and tables for two or more along with two communal tables invite relaxed dining.
At the time of visit, five days after opening, the cocktail list was still in development so these drinks may change. The Pomegranate Fizz is a refreshing and balanced Prosecco-based drink with orange, sugar syrup and pomegranate molasses.
The vodka-based Turkish Appletini makes use of a housemade apple tea with sugar syrup and lime juice and comes with an edible elderflower garnish.
Tequila lovers would enjoy the Tequila Passionata, made with tequila blanco, housemade passionfruit lemonade, passionfruit puree and lime juice. It’s bright and fruity with the agave flavour lingering on the palate.
The drinks list includes wines from Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and abroad with only one wine from the Levant, Chateau Musar Rosé from Lebanon. Australian craft beers and cider feature on the menu, though one would have expected to see 961 Beer from Lebanon.
Mezze Sharing Style Menu
When it comes to the food, Chef Kime has drawn inspiration for his menu from his extensive travels around the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Jordan, Israel and Cyprus) and while the dishes are his interpretation, they do not stray from traditional and authentic flavours.
The menu, consisting with Mezze and Grills to share recommends three dishes per person which come in the order that the kitchen prepares them starting with the cold dishes first. The meat is sourced from certified free range farms and the fish and seafood are wild caught from sustainable sources.
Four in One
Start with the Four in One ($17), a sampler of the four dips on offer individually on the menu: Hommos ($10), a smooth chickpea purée, with tahini and green chilli; Pancar ($11) with roasted beetroots, yoghurt, garlic, crumbled pistachio nuts; Fadi ($11) a fried baby zucchini puree with tahini and roast garlic; and the excellent Spicy Roasted Red Pepper ($14), based on the Aleppine dip, Muhammara, made with red pepper, chilli, walnuts and pomegranate molasses. The quartet of dips comes with toasted triangles of pita bread. You simply can’t go wrong with this starter as you study the menu.
Seared Albacore Tuna
From the Seafood section comes the Seared Albacore Tuna ($19), coated with chermoula, lightly seared and served pink in the middle with roasted red peppers. The tuna is very tender and flavoursome and goes well with the fennel salad that helps to cut through the fattiness of the fish.
From Veggie Heaven, the Roasted Aubergines ($13) is a must have dish. The eggplant melts in the mouth with a medley of flavours from the tomato, cumin and chilli relish topped with yoghurt. The spiced almonds add a contrasting texture to this delightful dish.
Roast Duck Salad
From Meat and Poultry, the Roast Duck Salad ($22) comes with shish tawook spices, coriander, mint and cumin roasted butternut squash along with green beans. The salad is served warm and the tender duck meat is sweet with the spices lifting the flavour.
Crushed White Bean and Parsley
From the Salads, the Crushed White Bean and Parsley ($9) is a simple side dish with cherry tomatoes, dressed in olive oil. The beans are a little firm to the bite and have a hint of chilli on the finish.
Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder
The Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder ($24) with shawarma spices, pomegranate, mint and pistachio dressing is a substantial dish, tender and full of flavour from the balance of spices and pomegranate seed.
Described simply as Lamb Meatballs ($18) with sweet & sour cherry & cranberry sauce, karaz spices, cucumber yoghurt, this hero dish is in fact Kabab bil Karaz, a specialty dish from Aleppo in Syria, previously featured on Gourmantic. Chef Kime’s version uses a combination of cherries, sour cherries and cranberries instead of just sour cherries but the flavours are very close to the original. This is the go-to dish, a combination of sweet and sour, and one to order on every visit.
Set Lemon Pot
While three dishes each is more than enough, when it comes to dessert, the Set Lemon Pot ($9) with buttermilk, vanilla and poached fruit makes a light and refreshing palate cleanser.
Flavours of Baklava
But leave the guilt behind and order the Flavours of Baklava ($11), a honeycomb ice cream with roast nut brittle and burnt honey caramel, or all the flavours you find in the traditional dessert without the pastry. It’s rich, sweet, decadent, moreish and we even go as far as to say addictive and one of the best desserts we’ve tasted for some time. This dessert is one hard act to follow.
Ceru Sydney brings an array of vibrant flavours and showcases Chef Tom Kime’s creativity and respect for authenticity. The share plate dishes are substantial in size and well-priced with the main capped at $24. The venue itself is inviting and the friendly and attentive service makes you feel like a regular. Ceru is best enjoyed in a group where you can order many dishes to share so bring your friends and enjoy the flavours of the Levant in Sydney.
Photography © by Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.
Originally published as a news item on 30 November 2015. Updated with review on 27 January 2016.
2-14 Kings Cross Rd
Potts Point NSW 2011
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