I was brought up in a house where aromas of middle eastern cuisine would waft out from the kitchen almost daily. Food would encapsulate the exotic, sometimes spicy, sometimes sweet but always a flavoursome experience. I remember wishing my mother would open a restaurant.
So I was delighted that Jeru restaurant opened in London’s plush Berkeley Street, London W1 offering Middle Eastern cuisine made modern by Australian/Israeli chef Roy Ner. The invitation was to taste the Chef’s Selection Menu.
The ambience at Jeru Restaurant
Jeru which means “old town” has a lovely facia with Middle Eastern patterns and an arched wood door that hints of Arabia.
On the other side of the door, we pass a bakery and then venture through the arches passing an elegant private dining space to get to the restaurant. Colourful Turkish-style light fittings throw out dim orange hues much like a sunset, over the long length of the alveolate space.
On one side is an open kitchen punctuated with ferns and you can watch the theatre of the preparation and cooking. On the other are the plush beige marble tables set against a backdrop of sand-hued walls under beamed ceilings.
Food & Drink
The chef’s choice menu seems a little pricey at £79 per person, however, it’s a generous sharing menu and if you are on a date you will find the setting is conducive to romance.
There were two starters and as I tucked into the 72-hour fermented wood-fired potato bread I couldn’t help but release my inner voyeur as the couple on the next table cooed as they tucked into theirs engrossed in each other as much as they were in the food.
This bread is fluffy yet a hefty munch that needs something to soften the load and that was the job of the gorgeous truffle honey or the savoury chickpea miso butter that also comes with it.
The second starter was a black chickpea hummus made with British foraged mushrooms, a fine dish that brought up images of staff out there picking those mushrooms.
Then the Mezze begins:
Halloumi doughnuts with goat curd, lemon, and truffled honey. These rings of soft halloumi on the inside and crispy outer skins were surprisingly bland until dipped into the curd or the honey which proved to be a good partnership of flavour and texture.
By contrast, the confit of chicken and Foie Gras Shawarma with butter bread and tahini was full of flavour and textures with sweetness supplied by the slices of date.
The charcoal-roasted aubergine with macadamia dukkah and smoked mint tahini was well done. I passed on grilled octopus with chickpea ragu simply as octopus is not my thing.
Having waded through that we had to choose a main dish of either charcoal brick-pressed chicken or Butterfly sea bass. We chose the chicken. It comes with Seurat lettuce in mint dressing and crispy agria potato rosti flavoured with aiolo and smoked salt.
Sated but still tempted we ordered desserts. A lemon ice cream with raspberry centre served with lemon sorbet and a chocolate boat of various shades of chocolate.
The wine was chosen by the very laid-back sommelier who got the measure of our tastebuds with just a few questions.
He chose a sauvignon blanc and semillion mix for us – the Antinori Conte della Viepra 2021.
This was a cheeky Italian wine of golden hues in the glass with a bouquet of exotic fruits, perhaps lychees and passion fruit on the nose. On the palate, it was fresh and lively with a hint of lemon peel and pineapple, a delicious wine by all accounts.
There are cocktails and mocktails available at the bar, plus a stylish cocktail bar, Layla, located on the basement floor. Sadly it was shut on this evening.
Verdict: Is the middle eastern food served at Jeru as my mother would have made it? No not at all, but this is a brand new take on Middle Eastern cuisine a la chef Roy Ner that makes Jeru worth visiting. Combined with a romantic setting it seems love birds can happily coo over the sharing plates all night long.
Note: Check out the menu here.