116 Lygon Street
Brunswick East, VIC 3057
(03) 9388 8255
Venture down the dingiest of Chinatown’s alleyways and it’ll lead you to some of the best dumplings you’ll ever have the pleasure of devouring. Walk into any of the phõ houses on Richmond’s Victoria Street precinct and lap up broth so delicious you’ll want to be swimming in it. And then there’s Lygon Street, where gelato comes in flavours you couldn’t make up in your dizziest daydreams.
Point is, one of the best things about Melbourne is the fact that it’s a melting pot of a floppity jillion different cultures. You can’t find, say, Lebanese cuisine just anywhere. The thought crossed my mind as I met two of my good friends, A and M, for dinner on Sunday night at Rumi. Which, coincidentally, is also on Lygon Street.
I followed the cute Moroccan lanterns and Arabic wall scrawl to my seat. I was running ten minutes late, as per usual (you can’t expect anything less from me, really, it’s in my Filipino blood), so A and M had already given the menu a once-over by the time I got there. I spied a few ingredients I wasn’t familiar with, which was exciting. Most of the dishes appeared to be sharing plates.
Rumi boasts an impressive wine list, reminiscent of Middle Eastern and Australian influences, but bearing in mind how wine tends to mess with my head and the long drive home, I opted for a bottle of pomegranate juice instead.
Our server was remarkably attentive and walked us through the menu like a pro. We kicked things off with the sigara boregi, pastry cigars filled with haloumi, feta and kasseri (12.5). They were great starters; they weren’t too oily and the trio of cheeses was a lovely blend of rich, salty flavours.
Next up, we had the oven-baked baby snapper fillet with tahini, muhammara, soft herbs and walnuts (22.5). It was a small serve, but hot damn, it was worth every cent. The snapper was cooked perfectly. The tangy tahini sauce gave the fish extra zip without overpowering it, while the herbs and walnuts added colour and texture. And made it look extra pretty.
We followed this up with the freekeh salad (or the freakin’ salad, as we liked to refer to it, 14.0) – of almonds, ewe’s milk feta and pomegranate dressing. Texturally, it was grainy, a little like quinoa or barley. In spite of being unlike any other salad I’ve ever had before, it was super tasty and went nicely with our spiced lamb shoulder (23.0). The shoulder itself was wonderfully tender. With a simple prod, the meat fell off the bone and when we drizzled the sweet sirkanjabin syrup over the top, we just about toppled off our seats in fits of joy. So. Good.
We were all comfortably full by this stage, but I’m not one to shy away from a dessert menu so we decided to end the night on a sweet note. The almond pudding (10.5) was delightful, lifted by the crunch of the pistachios and the bursts of sweetness provided by the barberries. The Persian fairy floss (6.0) was also on our hit list – I’ve always wanted to try it! It wasn’t sickly sweet like ordinary fairy floss and had a unique, almost nutty flavour to it, which I loved.
We walked out of Rumi with bellies filled and palates slightly more cultured. If you’re up for something a little different with a mellow vibe and killer menu, look no further. Rumi satisfies on all three counts