Rumi, restaurant, Brunswick East, Melbourne.
Rumi, restaurant, Brunswick East, Melbourne. Photo: Dean Cambray Photography

116 Lygon Street Brunswick East, VIC 3057

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Opening hours Daily 6pm-10pm
Features Accepts bookings, Bar, Degustation, Events, Family friendly, Gluten-free options, Groups, Licensed, Private dining, Vegetarian friendly, Wheelchair access
Prices Moderate (mains $20-$40)
Chef Tom Sarafian
Seats 75
Payments eftpos, Visa, Mastercard
Phone 03 9388 8255

Middle Eastern food has moved into the mainstream, with dukkah almost as common a condiment as salt-and-pepper, and folks at home comfortably slinging another kebab on the barbecue. But Rumi represents a sublime balance of the familiar and the exotic. It starts with the room - a large L-shaped space with polished boards and timber tables - wrapped in the cursive Persian calligraphy of Rumi's poetry. The food is a collection of small and medium-sized plates for sharing, with some solid familiar dishes among some truly exciting ones. A snapper fillet, baked in terracotta dish, comes topped with a lemony-garlic almond-and-green olive dice. A stunning salad arrives at the same time. curls of haloumi with torn mint, fennel and orange segments. Then, beef sirloin kebabs on white-bean puree with paprika butter pooling at its edges, and freekeh salad jumping with the crunch of almonds and creamy feta. It's casual but carefully delivered stuff, popular enough to warrant two sittings most nights.