116 Lygon St
Brunswick East, VIC 3057
I’ve wanted to try Rumi and its modern take on Middle Eastern cuisine for the longest time, but my funds (or lack therefore) from pre-Sydney days meant that the visit kept being pushed back. Thankfully Rumi is such a stalwart of the Melbourne dining scene that it has not only survived the last 5 years, but is thriving to boot. The food here was highly enjoyable, but I’ll admit I’m not as impressed as I had hoped to be. But then again, the food landscape of Melbourne was a vastly different place when Rumi opened 10 years ago, and what Rumi offers (Ethnic food with a twist! Share plates! Crowd-pleasers with oomph!) was truly ground-breaking at the time.
Rating: 12.5/20 – trailblazer.
Good to know: the banquet is excellent value for people who claim indecision is their biggest flaw in job interviews.
Warning: do not tell them it’s your birthday unless you want a Middle-Eastern rendition of happy birthday blasted through the restaurant.
The BBQ Sweet Corn with Red Pepper Butter and Coriander ($14) is a simple yet irresistible snack, the smoky sweet kernels of corn slathered with melted butter, which is really all you need.
Similarly tasty is the School Prawns, Baharat Spiced with Tahini Sauce ($16.5). The batter is super light, which means you can taste the delicate sweetness of the shellfish. Swapping the traditional aioli for tahini is a snappy little twist, and a dash of sumac sprinkled on top adds citrusy oomph.
The Advieh Marinated Lamb Shoulder ($38) is the signature dish at Rumi. Slow-roasted on the bone, it truly does fall apart with a gentle tug of the fork. The clean mint sauce contrasts well with the dark spice rub, and if you want it extra decadent, there’s also a small pitcher of sweet mint syrup on the side.
For comfort food, look no further than the Mante ($24). The tiny, pearl like beef dumplings are slathered in a mix of rich tomato sauce and thick tangy yoghurt, and drizzled with nutty brown butter. Savour or scoff; it’s good for both.
I hate raw cabbage, but I’ll happily make an exception for the Cabbage Salad ($16). There’s no bitter chunks of sadness here; instead, the slaw is thinly sliced and citrus-soused, and studded through with sultanas for sweetness, and almonds for richness.
Drinks-wise, the Sour Cherry Mocktail ($12) is a must-have, the traditionally sour medicinal note rounded out, and softened by the addition of orange blossom and almond. Truly delicious.