A Banquet and a Half
It'd been a long time between visits to one of Melbourne's favourite Middle Eastern Cafe. Sarah and I have lived in North Carlton for quite some time now, we remember when Rumi opened, then got glowing reviews in the media and missing our chance to get in before it got popular. In the end we only made it there once, which is really pretty disgraceful given it was within stumbling distance from our home. Then it moved, and it moved closer.
Having been looking for an excuse to go back and check our Rumi's (relatively) new digs, we decided Thursday was reason enough. We rang and booked and got a table for two an hour later, but by the look of the place when we got there we were fortunate to get that. Despite Rumi's significantly larger premises, it seems to be as popular as ever, and it was certainly not struggling to find diners that night.
We were shown to our tables, and after looking at the menu for about 4 seconds we decided on the banquet ($40 for 4 courses, 5 for $45), and bottle of Mornington Peninsula Tempranillo from the very reasonably priced wine list.
This is a banquet which we didn't even think twice about. We had to ask the waiter to make sure that all the dishes were included, as it seemed there was simply too many plates for $45 a head, but once reassured it wasn't a misprint we were prepared.
And then the food started to arrive. I'm going to begin by warning those who will come after me: beware the first course. The flat-bread with labne is good, but it's still just bread and labne, go easy on it the best is yet to come. The raw vegetables with almond taratoor is great, but the standout of round one is the Sigara Boregi - a cigar of filo pastry filled with feta.
Round two is where it starts to get really good. The persian meat balls are pretty good, but the spiced school prawns are amazing. And as for the Quaill 'Joojeh' Kebab with course three....ahhhhh.
It's like a marathon at this point, and if you've proved you're strong enough it's now that you get your reward. The spiced lamb shoulder. This is why I warned you early on to not over-do the early courses, the lamb is deliciously spiced and slow cooked, literally falling apart under your fork. It feels wrong not to finish it, but by this stage we were getting pretty full. We powered through though.
Finally comes the Lebanese Coffee with arak poached apricots and Turkish delight. A damn fine way to finish such a meal. There are banquets, and there are banquets, and then there's this. This was one of the best value meals I can remember eating in a long time. Go to Rumi. You won't be disapointed.
Banquet $45 a head
Los Hermanos Tempranillo - Crittendon Wines