After reading a glowing review from John Lethlean from The Age, I had tried to go to Rumi a few months ago, only to find the place full one time without booking, and still full when I tried to book the next week. Well, after The Age Epicure section released their Cheap Eats selection, it sparked renewed interest in me to go to Rumi. After reading some great reviews and comments from fellow bloggers, I booked and went on Friday.
Well, the higher the anticipation, the bigger the fall eh. I must say, I was so disappointed with my dinner and at this stage, will not go back unless there's some exceptional circumstances. The dinner started off good enough, we sat down to some water in this beautiful green glass jug. The waitress took a while to give us our menus, but eventually they arrived. She told us that they were serving cranberry, lime and vodka drinks specially that night, so we got some.
John stopped by the restaurant to see that we had arrived in one piece. He lives around the area and was on his way home. I left work 30 minutes before him, but since none of us knew the area, took main roads which were totally clogged and hence only arrived about 2 minutes before John did. He stayed for a vodka cranberry drink with us.
We all agreed the cranberry lime vodka drink was nice, although no one could really taste the vodka in it.
Here's Paul doing his best pose with the drink in hand.
But from here, the dinner just went sour, literally as you will see. The service was ok, the atmosphere quite good with the small restaurant fully filled and buzzing quietly with noise. Even the toilets were great, very nicely furnished. The look into the kitchen was interesting. But the main problem was the food, it was just plain bad.
So we ordered the Hot Yoghurt Soup with chicken and pistachi mante which everyone has said was really good.
Well, below are Kin's and then my reaction after taking one spoonful. The soup was SO SOUR it felt like I was eating a lemon. I thought it might have been the residual sugar in my mouth from the cranberry drink so I rinsed my mouth with water and took another spoon. Equally sour. I literally had to force myself to finish it. The dumpling thing didn't taste like anything either, just like a normal ravioli that you get at most Italian restaurants.
So I kept saying to Kin and Paul, "I'm sure it'll get better, this place got fantastic reviews." The next dish we ordered were some Lebanese Pickles and the Persian Meatballs in Tomato and Saffron that John Lethlean said were unbelievable. Usually I agree with most things Mr Lethlean says, but I would totally have to disagree this time. The meatballs were so flavourless and uninteresting. As for the pickles, they were again so sour it was unbelievable. I know pickles are supposed to be sour and I am one that can take sour, but these were extreme. I love all types of pickles and eat them in sandwiches all the time. I love Vietnamese pickles too of carrots, radishes, beans, cauliflower etc but these ones were bad.
The Roast Pumpkin and Chickpea Salad with tahini, currants and pinenuts were very ordinary. Compared to a very similar salad that I had at La Paella, this one was very very ordinary. I don't like vegetables, but the Chickpea Salad at La Paella had me going back for seconds, thirds and fourths while this one was pushed around the table by the three of us.
The Lamb Fettah with toasted pita, chickpeas, braised lamb and yoghurt topped with nuts and fresh herbs was ok, but tasted a bit like the lamb souvlaki that I had for lunch a few days ago. Only the souvlaki was a third of the price and 3 times as large.
The only dish from the whole meal that I liked was the Joojeh Kebabs, which was skewered quail with poached grapes and grape syrup. The syrup had a very interesting flavour, the quail was tender but seemed to be a bit underdone. It still had that slightly raw smell and taste to it.
For dessert, I had to try the Persian Fairy Floss. It looked great, but that's where it ended. It tasted like dry crumbly biscuits. I prefer regular fairy floss to it.
So what went wrong. After so much expectation, it call came tumbling down at the speed of an asteroid that crashed into my taste buds. Nothing was particularly good. Adding to insult, the prices were very expensive. It cost each of us $37 (which I don't mind paying at all for a decent meal) and as Kin's terrible joke went, "There was much Rumi for improvement and Rumi in my stomach for a lot more food." I was still very hungry afterwards but did not feel like trying any more things.
Here are some possible explanations as to why it went so wrong
a)the cranberry lime vodka drink affected everything we tasted, which in that case they shouldn't sell that drink
b)the head chef was sick that night and some apprentice cooked everything, in which case quality control is a real issue at the restaurant
c)my friends and I have taste buds that are just not used to this type of Middle Eastern food, which I very much doubt since we eat other foods like Greek which also have a lot of sour flavours in them
d)due to the recent publicity of the restaurant, they have relaxed their standards due to the high turn over of patrons.
I don't know the answer, but when all three of us agreed that it was terrible, then its quite a coincidence. Usually Kin will eat most things and like it, but even he didn't like the food. So I really want to know if other people have gone there very recently and enjoyed the food, escpecially the Hot Yoghurt Soup which was so sour.
Overall Rating: 9/20, I'm only giving it a 9 because the surroundings was nice and the presentation of the food was good.
Scores: 1-9: Unacceptable, don't bother. 10-11: Just OK,some shortcomings. 12: Fair. 13: Getting there. 14: Recommended. 15: Good. 16: Really good. 17: Truly excellent. 18: An outstanding experience. 19-20: Approaching perfection, Victoria's best.