116 Lygon Street, Brunswick East (map)
Okay, this is a quickie, because it's Amnesty Fortnight and I have a dinner date in a few hours. These photos have been sitting in my drafts folder since a while back, but I felt compelled to share them anyway because (a) Rumi seems, somewhat undeservedly, to have dropped off the Melbourne food blogging radar, and (b) it was such a great meal.
The very generous, very delicious Rumi banquet will only set you back $40 per person - outrageously good value in my opinion.
The occasion was the birthday of Beatch, my charming friend from Sydney. We started with the Rumi house cocktail, which was sort of a Cosmopolitan by way of Constantinople: vodka, pomegranate juice and lime.
The opening entrees included green olives pickled with wild fennel, mixed Lebanese and Iranian pickled vegetables, labne with Lebanese flat bread and crudites with almond tarator.
These dishes were accompanied by a plate of lightly fried sigara boregi filled with three kinds of cheese: haloumi, feta and kasseri. Next came a salad of beetroot, shankleesh, Spanish onion and torn mint.
Then it was fried fish kofte with lemon and toum (a Lebanese garlic dipping sauce), and Persian meat balls in tomato and saffron, with labne.
Because Miss A is vegetarian, they also brought us a serve of chickpeas and lentils in tahini yoghurt and parsley. Chickpeas and lentils generally get a big YAWN from me, but I had a taste of these and they really were very nice.
The one vegetable dish that we all LOVED was the fried cauliflower, which came with pine nuts, caramelised onion and currants. BEST CAULIFLOWER EVER.
Also extremely good were the joojeh kebabs of marinated barbecued quail with muhummara, a walnut garlic sauce.
The freekeh salad contained Bulgarian feta, almonds and pomegranate vinaigrette. They also brought out an extra little vegetarian salad for Miss A.
And then there were the mains! The spiced lamb shoulder had been slow roasted on the bone until it was achingly tender, served with sirkanjabin (a sweet mint sauce). Accompanying the lamb was braised greens, a rice pilaf and a cos and herb salad with sweet and sour dressing.
The last time I'd been to Rumi was for lunch two years ago, back when it was located a few doors down the road at the site now occupied by Bar Idda. The new venue is bigger and brighter, but still retains the flowing Arabic script on the walls that was such a feature at the earlier location.
Oh and then we decided to order a SMORGASBORD of delicious Middle Eastern desserts: they included arak-poached apricots and fresh Medjool dates (each stuffed with labne), pistachio halva, Persian fairy floss, Turkish delight, ma'mool (Arabic shortbread filled with dates, rose water and coffee) and an almond milk pudding with sour cherries and rose jam.
We finished our meal off with Lebanese coffee accented with cardamom. Excellent food, value, service, setting and company!