Lygon Street may be synonymous with Italian fare, but for those who venture further north and beyond Brunswick Road, the spoils will come in the form of Rumi.
The Brunswick East institution has been dishing up a contemporary blend of Middle Eastern dishes for more than 9 years, providing a fuss-free environment where locals can sample the best of the best from the region.
Opened by Joseph and Natalie Abboud in 2006, the restaurant has cemented itself as a much loved north-side establishment. It offers friendly service, casual décor and a menu consisting of authentic share plates that arrive before you’ve finished snacking on the complimentary pieces of flatbread.
As the Executive Chef, Joseph has designed a menu full of contemporary Lebanese flavours that are ideal for sharing. Most dishes arrive in small or medium size plates courtesy of Head Chef, Tom Sarafian, and his kitchen team. The plate size encourages adventurous eating so there’s no need to choose between sigara boregi – cigar shaped pastry filled with halloumi, feta and kasseri, or the fried cauliflower with caramelised onions, currants and pine nuts.
Try both the BBQ king prawns and the BBQ lamb cutlet with parsley salad, or if you fancy seafood, the market fish with Caspian green olive and walnut sauce. Vegetarians will feel right at home here, with Brussels sprouts slow- cooked with dill, caraway and almonds; and fried potatoes with lemon, garlic and sumac. Round your Middle Eastern immersion off with a freekeh salad, served with almonds ewe’s milk feta and pomegranate dressing or spiced lamb shoulder with sirkanjabin – a sweet ‘n’ sour mint sauce.
If you just can’t decide the friendly and knowledgeable staff will be able to point you in the right direction, with tips on what dishes go well together as well as complementary drink suggestions.
The beverage list reflects both Rumi’s Middle Eastern heritage and Australian location, featuring home-grown and international wines, as well as 961 Beer, brewed in Beirut. Daring drinkers should try a glass of arak – a distilled spirit similar to ouzo or raki. It pairs perfectly with the introductory dishes of a Middle Eastern meal and is served with water and ice.
Rumi is Middle Eastern in cuisine and design, bearing the name of the 13th century poet and theologian. But it’s not his writing that adorns the restaurant’s walls; that honour goes to Kahlil Gibran, the poet, philosopher and artist from Lebanon. Taken from one of his most famous works – ‘The Prophet’ – the Arabic script is laser cut in planks of natural wood and explores the relationship between food and people. The timber theme continues with long communal tables running down the length of the space and appearing in a darker tint along the bar.
For a restaurant that has held the city’s tick of approval for 9 years, it’s hard to walk past Rumi. The Middle Eastern restaurant will transport your taste- buds back to Joseph’s orient through authentic aromas, fresh flavours and a casual dining experience that’s hard to top.