This popular Middle-Eastern establishment has been on my ‘to-eat’ list for a number of years, yet it was only the other day that I ended up getting over to Brunswick to check it out. It boasts a decent 13.5/20 rating in The Age Good Food Guide 2013.
When we arrive the decor is basic and pleasant; it seems nice enough for an occasion but still has a casual feel to it.
Dishes are designed to be shared, and are roughly organised on the menu as small, medium and large. To be honest I didn’t notice much of a size difference between the ones that we ended up ordering.
House-made bastourma ($12.50)
Bastourma is beef which has been rubbed in a spice paste, cured and air-dried. The soft, slightly chewy texture was similar to prosciutto. I was expecting it to taste something like bresaola but it didn’t: the bastourma was much leaner and lacked richness. There were a few slight hints of fenugreek, however generally it didn’t have a whole lot of flavour.
BBQ whole king prawns with fennel salt ($5 each)
The prawns were tender and rich in flavour, thanks to being cooked whole. They had a lovely smokey aroma from the barbecue and the fennel salt was complementary but not dominating. If these hadn’t been $5 each I would have happily had quite a few more.
Freekeh salad ($14)
Well-toasted almond slivers added depth and crunch to the salad of freekeh, parsley and slightly pungent ewe’s milk feta dressed with tart pomegranate. If I had been any less hungry than I was that night, I could have probably just had this bowl on its own for dinner. I’ve been a fan of freekeh salad ever since I first had it at Cumulus. This one wasn’t quite as good, and from reading other reviews of Rumi it seems that this comparison is quite a common one. I guess no one else really does freekeh, which is a shame as it is far superior to that horrible, over-hyped quinoa stuff. But I digress. Get the freekeh salad!
Persian meatballs ($12.50)
Four meatballs were served in a tomato and saffron sauce, topped with labne. I was slightly disappointed to discover that the meatballs were lamb (I really should have figured!) but I ate my share nevertheless. I wasn’t a fan of that lamby aftertaste, as per usual, however the meatballs were good quality. They were juicy and the rich sauce was nicely savoury. Every last bit of sauce was mopped up with complimentary pita bread.
We decided to end dinner on a sweet note and shared a plate of ma’amoul. These shortbread biscuits are usually stuffed with dried fruit or nut-based fillings. Our plate consisted of three types: Turkish coffee and date, orange blossom scented apricot, and fig. I’m not usually a fan of Turkish coffee, which is a little strong for my taste, but when combined with the date paste it was lovely. These actually reminded me a little of nastar, a similar Indonesian sweet which has a filling of sweet pinapple preserve.
The bill (not including drinks) came to $58 for the two of us, so if you’re any good at maths you can see that dining at Rumi certainly isn’t going to break the bank. Portions were a tad on the small side compared to those of other restaurants but I still found them to be quite adequate. Sometimes it’s nice to go out for dinner without having to roll home afterwards!
The food was very good and service was attentive. The place well-lit with a cosy, family-friendly atmosphere and reasonable volume level. Not the most romantic dinner venue, but good for casual dining.
We turned up without a booking but that was on a Tuesday night at 8pm. If you’re going at a busier time it might be worth booking as I’ve heard that this place can get busy. It’s not hard to see why!Rumi 116 Lygon Street Brunswick East