Rumi, Brunswick East

Rumi is a Lebanese/ Middle Eastern Restaurant on Lygon St in Brunswick East, located in an area with many surrounding restaurants. It's opened for dinner 7 days a week, and pretty close to a tram stop for both the 1 and 8 trams that pass through Lygon Street. 

I was extremely impressed with the service of Rumi, as all the staff were very friendly and attentive, giving us suggestions and constantly coming over to refill our water. The decorations around the restaurant were also very authentic, with lots of glass decorations and wooden panels with arabic writing on them. 

As we had quite a large group of people, we decided to share everything so we could get a taste of a range of dishes, and ended up choosing two breads to go with dips, an array of side dishes, one main course and a range of desserts to finish up. The two dips we got were the Labne ($8.50) and the Almond Taratoor ($9). Labne is strained yoghurt, and in this case was made from house made organic milk. It came with olive oil, and sustained the original sour taste of the yoghurt, which constrasted strongly with the bread. The almond taratoor is also a yoghurt based dip, and has the added ingredient of crushed almonds to balance out the natural sourness from the yoghurt. I definitely liked this one better out of the two, as the other one was a bit too sour for my liking. 

The side dishes we ordered included Persian Meatballs ($12.50), Fried Cauliflower ($9.50), Fried Potatoes ($9.50), Roasted Field Mushrooms ($14.50), and Rice Pilaf ($12). The Persian meatballs came with a tomato and saffron sauce, and was topped with labne. The sauce had good strong flavours; the tomato was quite distinct but not overpowering, and the saffron really helped enhance that flavour. The meatballs themselves were also good- they weren't too dry, and had just the right amount of moisture in them. 

The fried cauliflower dish was a pleasant surprise, as based on the presentation it may not be the most appealing dish. The cauliflower dish came with caramelised onions, currants and pinenuts, for added sweetness to the dish. The cauliflower itself, although quite charred on the outside, was surprisingly soft on the inside and still maintained its original colour and texture. It was a great little dish, especially because even one of my friends, who has never liked cauliflower in the past, enjoyed it immensely. 

The fried potatoes were seasoned with lemon, garlic and sumac, and like the fried cauliflower, had a crispy and slightly crunchy outer layer, yet maintained the softness on the inside. The seasoning added good flavour to the potatoes, and there was a slight sour tinge to it because of the lemon and the sumac, which also has a slightly lemony taste to it. 

The roasted field mushrooms came with green garlic yoghurt, parsley and walnuts, and was probably one of my favourite dishes of the night. The mushrooms themselves were very tender, and the other elements really helped to enhance to natural sweetest of the mushroom. The walnuts gave the dish an added texture, and went surprisingly well with the earthy, grainy flavours of the mushrooms. 

The rice pilaf dish came with fried onion on top, as well as tomato and peas in it. It was a good side dish to go with everything else, and to add a more staple element to the meal overall. The rice was quite dry by itself, though the fried onion gave it good flavour.

There were a few main dishes we were tossing up between getting, but in the end we went with the spiced lamb shoulder, slow roasted on the bone and served with sirkanjabin ($23). The lamb was very tender and fell off the bone when cut, though it was a little dry on the outside. There was a good lamb flavour, though I couldn't really taste the spice element to it, and perhaps a little more of the sirkanjabin mint sauce would've been nice. The portion was more than enough for the group of us to share, and definitely worth the price. 

For dessert, we went with a Pistachio Halva ($4), Dates stuff with labne ($9), Ma'mool ($9) and an Almond Milk Pudding ($10.50). Despite the good pistachio flavour, the halva was very floury and crumbled really easily, and was very dry to eat. It tasted sort of similar to an Asian dessert as pointed out by my friend, the almond cake pastry. 

The dates were fresh medjool ones that were stuffed with labne, and finished with halva sprinkled on top. The flavours were quite extreme, as initially all you can taste is the sourness of the labne, but the more you ate, the stronger the sweetness of the date became, almost to the point of being too sweet by the end. 

Ma'mool was essentially an assortment of shortbread with filling, and was an average dish in my opinion. It didn't really taste different to normal shortbread that you can get at the supermarket, just that it had three different fillings in it.

The almond milk pudding was served with barberry and pistachio, and was probably my favourite out of the four desserts we ordered. I was surprised that the texture of the pudding was not silky smooth, but in fact a little grainy. The combination of the sweet pudding, the sour barberry and the strong pistachio taste made for a great dessert that wasn't too heavy and left you feeling satisfied by the end. 

Overall, I enjoyed most of the dishes we ordered, and the vast range we tried were all liked by everyone in the group, giving a good indication of the quality and type of dishes you can expect from this authentic Lebanese restaurant. Desserts however, are very authentically Lebanese, and so might not appeal to people as much as the other dishes did. 

I haven't had much middle eastern cuisine myself, but I would probably revisit this restaurant again, if I was in the area. The prices are decent and the portions are good, and the whole restaurant has a warm, inviting atmosphere with attentive staff.  


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