Rumi remains a true Melbourne treasure and one of the best Middle Eastern restaurants in the city.
Andrew Zuccala
Published on April 22, 2024
Updated on April 23, 2024


If anyone has treated Melbourne to a contemporary taste of the Middle East, it's Joseph Abboud, who first opened Rumi on the Brunswick East end of Lygon Street back in 2006. With this hugely popular venture, he helped lay a path for plenty of other Middle Eastern restaurants in Melbourne to follow and expand upon.

Then, at the end of 2023, he packed up Rumi and moved it around the corner to East Brunswick Village. Next door, he also teamed up with his wife Nat to create The Rocket Society — a small neighbourhood wine bar with next-level mezze.

When we revisited Rumi in the new location, we quickly breathed a deep sigh of relief. The team hadn't tried to reinvent the much-loved restaurant. They didn't transform the menu or the friendly and highly personable style of hospitality.

Instead, all that changed is that the team improved the wine menu, installed a new charcoal grill and designed a space that's altogether more polished and grown-up compared to its previous site.

You'll still find the moreish sigara boregi — crispy pastry cigars filled with haloumi, feta and kasseri — the fried cauliflower; Persian meatballs; and incredible tiny Turkish beef dumplings that come doused in tomato sauce, kashk yoghurt and nutty butter. Think of the dish as a Turkish pasta. It's a must-order.

Rumi set menu - one of the best set menus in melbourne under $100

The Rumi set menu remains, too, and is still really affordable. For $65 per person, you get a bunch of dips, bread, cheesy cigars and pickles to start. You then get meatballs, a selection of grilled and fried vegetables, a melt-in-your-mouth lamb shoulder (another longtime menu item), barbecue chicken wings and a couple of salads. Turkish delights finish off the feast.

And while the food remains much the same, the drinks got a proper glow up in the new location. Pre-dinner sips include sherry, vermouth, amaro and arak — a Lebanese spirit made by extracting anise seeds in grape brandy. There's also a stack of local beers and signature cocktails made with a Middle Eastern edge.

Then there are the wines. There are over 100 of them, hailing from Australia and around the Middle East, on the Rumi menu. They're split into the following categories: mates and local legends; the old, old world; funky trendy; and classic and conventional. So, whether you're into your orange wines and pét-nats, prefer your Aussie classics, or are keen to try something new from further afield, this bar's got the goods.

Rumi remains a true Melbourne treasure. It even regularly books out on weekday nights, as locals flock here on the regular. Be sure to book ahead if you want to try some of the best Middle Eastern food in the city.


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