After rescheduling dinner with G and T 3 times, we finally settled on going out Wednesday night to celebrate G's conductoral debut. I've heard a lot about Rumi through the grapevine, and thought it might be nice to try someplace new. A phone call on the day of our dinner meant that I couldn't secure a table booking, but I was assured that they often left the outside tables and bar seats free for walk-in's.
By the time we got there, most tables were filled up even though it was only about 6.30. We vetoed the outside tables due to the windy weather, and settled down at the bar where we could watch the people go by. We got a lot of people waving to us through the window, for some reason. Heh. Though we were seated at the front of the restaurant, we didn't get to see the back, which obviously held more seating area than I had originally thought. The white-washed walls were decorated simply with beautiful green Arabic writing, which, I was told, was an extract from Khalil Gibran's The Prophet. The decor was simple, with wooden chairs and bare timber tables, but somehow, it worked much better than over-clutter.
After perusing the menu, G and T quickly decided to leave the ordering up to me, which I was more than happy to do. After we did so, a beautiful green glass jug of water and little glasses were brought to us, as well as cutlery wrapped in linen napkins. That really got my attention. Lord knows I love a good linen napkin in any restaurant, and in one as quirky as this, it gave me a good feeling about the food that was to come. And I wasn't wrong at all.
A little dish of labneh quickly appeared on our table, accompanied by pieces of flatbread curled into a stainless steel container. The labneh, we were told, was made from their own home-made yoghurt and was splashed with a bit of fragrant olive oil on the top. Tangy and wonderfully fresh, they were beautiful together. The sigara boregi, cigar-shaped fried filo pastries, arrived next, wonderfully hot and beautifully soft and flaky and crisp all at once with the melted haloumi and pinenut filling scalding our tongues deliciously. G and T were raving about the food at this point, and we couldn't wait for more to come.
The fried cauliflower with pinenuts, currants and onions came next, accompanied by the Persian meatballs with saffron and tomato sauce and fried calamari with a thick almond dip. The cauliflower, though fried and crispy, was not at all oily and the crisp pinenuts, caramelized onions and sweet currants were a beautiful accompaniment. The meatballs were fantastic, and though delicate in its presentation, packed a real juicy punch, especially when eaten with a whip of the fresh yogurt dolloped on top of the bright red sauce. The calamari had us all salivating for more. Deep-fried to perfection in tiny slivers with a generous shake of salt, it was very satisfying indeed.
By this point, we were actually all getting to the satisfyingly-full stage, but we had, for fear of under-ordering, decided to order a plate of rice pilaf with chickpeas and a lamb fatteh. We loved the presentation of the lamb, as it came with fried spirals of onions that were gloriously piled on top of the stew itself. We tried as hard as we could, but could only manage about 3/4 of both dishes before we had to give up. This was a shame, as I'd been eyeing the turkish delight and pistachio halva since we'd gotten there, and I'd heard a lot about the Persian fairy floss too. The only other thing I'd heard a lot about was the tangy, hot yogurt soup, which I'd really wanted to try. We vetoed it for the reason that it was hard to share soup between 3 people. Next time, perhaps. Because there will definitely be a next time.
132 Lygon Street
(03) 9388 8255