Rumi has it
Q was another letter we had to bend the rules on. Of course we couldn’t find a Qatari restaurant (shame on you Melbourne, you call yourself multicultural?), so we settled for Middle Eastern as a whole.
When it comes to Middle Eastern dining, Rumi is the upper class. If Rumi were a person, it would play tennis on Tuesdays and holiday in the Hamptons. When it comes to the upper class, it’s in your best interests to accept everything on offer, which is why we opted for the 5 course chef’s banquet.
The enormous banquet began slowly with a selection of nibbles, the stand out of which was the sigara boregi, or as I more fondly remember them, meat cigars. What a concept.
Then we really started to get into the good stuff. BBQ lamb cutlets, curly haloumi salad and fried cauliflower, accompanied by a shot of arak each (kids, don’t try this at home).
Let us take a moment to give our thanks for haloumi. The cheese that keeps on giving.
Rumi has created a dish so delicious it defies everything I thought I knew about food. Take spaghetti, the humble carbohydrate that so many of us couldn’t live without, then, instead of making it out of flour (ye of little taste), make it out of salty, creamy haloumi. Dress with zesty citrus and fresh herbs and you have Rumi’s curly haloumi salad. Wow.
Course three was perhaps the most intriguing dish of the night, wonderful in my opinion but I don’t imagine it’d be everyone’s cup of tea. Hot yoghurt soup. 3 words I bet you never thought you’d hear together. The soup was sour from the yogurt, rich from the hot butter sauce and it housed a warm meaty, mushroomy dumpling. If some foods are a party in your mouth, hot yoghurt soup is a strange, fabulous, dress up party.
Although my stomach’s capacity was coming to an end, our dinner was not. Next up was the baked snapper, eggplant and rice pilaf. The thing you can never fault Middle Eastern cuisine on is lack of flavour. It is a bold cuisine which combines sour, rich, vibrant flavours, you can be sure you’ll never walk away thinking “well that was bland”. Why have rice, when you could have rice, lentils and fried onions? Why have snapper, when you could have snapper, walnuts and tangy herbs?
Finally, we were on the home stretch (we politely declined dessert, for lack of room, not desire). Beef kebabs, braised chickpeas, roasted mushrooms and sweet n sour salad (a flavour I previously only knew possible with pork). I wish I knew how to make those mushrooms.
A couple of 961 lagers and a bottle of Lebanese Tempranillo lasted us the duration of the evening and the entire shebang came in at $80 a head, good value for such a huge, great quality meal.
Rumi: spread the word.