Melbourne is well-known for its exquisite food scene, and one of the primary genres in this culinary showcase is the wide variety of delicious Middle Eastern delights. While you can’t turn a corner without finding a falafel nowadays, it may surprise you to learn that this wasn’t always the case.
Enter Rumi, an institution in Brunswick that has played a pivotal role in introducing the captivating flavours of the Middle East to Melbourne. With nearly two decades of history, Rumi has nurtured a dedicated following by offering an unparalleled Middle Eastern dining experience.
Locals and visitors alike recognize Rumi as the go-to destination for an unparalleled Middle Eastern culinary adventure – be it à la carte or banquet style. From charcoal grilled meats to seafood, vegetable and grain dishes, Rumi’s culinary finesse blends fine dining elegance with casual charm.
A Move Towards Fresh Horizons: Rumi Joins EBV
After 17 years on Lygon Street, Brunswick East, Rumi is ready for its next phase, which will include moving over to Nicholson Street to join the East Brunswick Village (EBV) community. We caught up with Rumi co-founder/owner Joseph Abboud to talk about Rumi’s journey so far and what lies ahead.
Nurturing growth from humble beginnings
Rumi’s story began in 2006, which for the owners was a combination of tackling a new frontier in Brunswick East (an up-and-coming area at the time) while also having a hiding place in case the restaurant idea didn’t work. “No one was really coming to Brunswick at the time, so it didn’t really matter if we stuffed it up,” laughs Joseph, “it was both opportunity and anonymity that drew us there.”
It wasn’t long before the popularity of the restaurant and the area, in general, grew, with more bars, restaurants and retail outlets springing up. “We were part of pioneering contemporary Middle Eastern food, and we wanted the place to make a statement,” Joseph explains.
Rumi broke free of conventions. We didn’t serve tabouli; we didn’t serve hummus; it wasn’t a standard BBQ and rice joint; it was something that was broader Middle Eastern in a contemporary Melbourne setting which wasn’t really being done.”
From Lygon St to EBV
As the original Rumi location underwent redevelopment, the search for a new home began. Joseph recalls, “We looked at so many different places, and it wasn’t until we started speaking to the team at EBV that we found a developer who was really prepared to work with us; they were willing to walk the talk and offer what we needed to make the right transition.”
Joseph emphasises the emotional aspect of the move. “We wanted somewhere we could play a key part in creating a new village, just like we did on Lygon Street all those years ago. We’re really excited to work with the other businesses at EBV. We have a Trader’s Association at EBV and look forward to complementing and collaborating with the other businesses.”
A Rumi Refresh: Bridging the Old & New
Relocation offers Rumi an opportunity to offer the familiar with a refreshing twist. Two significant changes mark the EBV chapter: an event space open to the community and an all-day, 25-seat bar. “Lunchtime sandwiches with wine or post-movie small plates and cocktails, we’re reinventing the Middle Eastern pub for modern times,” Joseph envisions.
These changes turn Rumi into a contemporary version of a classic Middle Eastern pub featuring a bistro, bar and ballroom, albeit with the modern EBV sheen. The central and accessible EBV location facilitates Joseph’s dream of creating a community hub incorporating surrounding businesses, like the cinema.
Savouring Tradition: Exploring The Menu
With this change, we know that loyal patrons of Rumi will have one big question on their mind, what about the menu!? Well, fear not, as the Rumi staples you know and love will remain, with even more options thanks to the bar and event spaces. The introduction of a wine curator will help to elevate the drinks menu, offering an even more diverse array of pairings.
All of your Rumi favourites, like the Caramelised Eggplant Braised with Tomatoes & Green Peppers or the Freekeh Salad, will still be available, plus many new additions to explore!
Immerse Yourself in The Rumi Experience at EBV
As anticipation mounts for the EBV chapter, an exciting assortment of experiences awaits. From Rumi’s Middle Eastern delights to Bridge Road Brewery, the cinema, and more, it’s time to start marking some room in your calendar. As Joseph explains, “Rumi will continually be working with its neighbours to make it easy for people to enjoy a great night out at EBV”
“The cinema is an important part of why we think Rumi will be at EBV for 20 (or more) years to come. Dining strips often fail if there is only dining on offer, so we look forward to being able to collaborate with our neighbours, do regular block parties and a range of other exciting events we think we can put on as part of this great community.”
Prepare to craft your perfect evening at EBV: kick off with pre-drinks at the brewery, savour dinner at Rumi, and catch the latest blockbusters at the cinema. Discover EBV, a contemporary urban village in the heart of Brunswick East, and the perfect place to call home.