Sunday, October 09, 2011

Rumi (East Brunswick) 10/2011

Rumi was a Persian Moslem, philosopher, mystic, holy figure noted for his poetry and for relating the search for God to music and with his turning to music, setting the basis for the Whirling Dervishes which developed after his death. If this has anything to do with the restaurant named after him that we visited a few days ago it escapes me.
The food is modern Levantine.
Virtually everyone who visits Rumi reports the same responses and we were no different.
The place is noisy with a friendly buzz. Bare wooden top tables, simple decor, obviously Arabic with it's stencils script, apparently something from Kalil Ghibran about food and life. Waiters will spend as much time as you need to talk about the menu which is set out on one page. It's generally a sharing menu although it does not have to be so. There is also a set three or five course menu ($40) which we chose.
Most dishes are inexpensive, $7 or $8 with a few around $12 and some mains around $16. However it's not the prices that distinguish the food. Chef owner Joseph Abboud has introduced a new element to his dishes with subtle spices that one does not experience at the common Lebanese banquets. Many things are traditional of course but there are lots of surprises. Our five courses felt more like 15 as the food kept coming, perhaps a little too quickly. Here are a few pic'sPita bread
LabneHumusMixed Lebanese and Iranian pickles - who knows which is which!CruditesAlmond TaratoorSpiced school prawns with tahini sauceCabbage salad, soused onionsPersian meatballs in tomato saffron and labne, one of their signature dishes, delicate and unusual beautifully blended flavoursQuail one of the less successful dishes as it was over seasoned with an excess of salt.Fried cauliflower with caramelized onion currants and pine nuts another unusual and very pleasing dishEggplant Kuku muhammarah, labne and mintFreekeh salad with almonds, ewes milk feta and pomegranate dressing
Tayta's soup, shredded chicken, vermicelli, rice and cinnamon Then there was another of Abboud's very special dishes, Sigara boregi, cigar shaped pastry filled with haloumi, feta and kasseri.Lamb shoulder, slow cooked for so long that it came to the table rather dry but would have been so good a few hours earlier but that was not all there were other salads and greens and roast potatoes as well asand dessert cheese stuffed apricots and the finest textured Turkish delight you could ever find.Finally a choice of mint tea or Turkish coffee.
They have a small, very reasonably priced wine listThis mid priced red went well with everything we ate.
There were quite a few extra ordinary dishes and it was a banquet. In it's class it is outstanding but or me it was diminished by being too much served too quickly. There were many subtle flavours and yet it lacked finesse. This is a bit unfair because that is not what it was all about. The most interesting Middle Eastern food in town.

Score: 13.75/20

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