The beautiful bar at Rumi's Kitchen was designed with The Johnson Studio. (Photo by Courtesy of Rumi's Kitchen)
Rumi's Kitchen owners Stephen Kaplan and Ali Mesghali. (Photo by Courtesy of Rumi's Kitchen)
The open kitchen inside the new Persian-style restaurant on Post Oak Boulevard. (Photo by Courtesy of Rumi's Kitchen)
The three-bone short rib glazed with a pomegranate sauce ($145.00) serves three to four people at Rumi's Kitchen. (Courtesy of Rumi's Kitchen)
You'll find corn ribs ($12) a fun snack of corn napped with jalapeno butter and sprinkled with a black seed dukkah (nut and spice blend), on the Rumi's Kitchen menu.
The Sufi mystic poet Rumi (Jalal al-Din Muhammad Balkhi) is famous for penning the Persian tome Masnavi, a 13th-century spiritual text that has inspired generations with its profound insights on the journey of self-discovery, love and spirituality. Today, Rumi’s theologian work is considered by those of myriad faiths as one of the most important works of Islamic literature. One such devotee is none other than chef Ali Mesghali, the Iranian-born founder and executive chef of Rumi’s Kitchen, the glittering Persian-style restaurant (the first iteration of which came to life in Atlanta in 2006) that recently opened in Houston on Post Oak Boulevard.
Rumi’s Kitchten is located in Post Place, the retail development where both Uchiko and Zadok’s Jewelers reside. Inside, the lauded Atlanta-based design firm The Johnson Studio has infused the 5,500-square-foot space with light. This comes courtesy of soaring floor-to-ceiling windows where sheer curtains diffuse the natural light that bathes the space by day. A smoked mirror, a backdrop for a row of plush banquette seating beneath it, depicts a mural of the tree of life, while overhead custom black metal lights spin gently when a breeze blows like skirts of whirling dervishes.
The rustic neutral-colored walls appear constructed like a simple brick façade covered in a creamy plaster slurry, while underfoot in the dining area, cool cement floors contrast with intricate herringbone hardwoods laid in the adjoining bar.
Utilizing centuries-old cooking techniques of his homeland, Mesghali aims to create dishes that transcend the sum of their parts, yet are reflective of his culinary heritage at Rumi’s Kitchen. What exactly does that entail? According to Persian cook and food writer Samin Nosrat, author of Salt Fat Acid Heat: “Persian cuisine is, above all, about balance — of tastes and flavors, textures and temperatures.
“In every meal, even on every plate, you’ll find both sweet and sour, soft and crunchy, cooked and raw, hot and cold.”
Not considered a spicy cuisine per se, you’ll find Rumi’s myriad dishes — be it starters like a lamb merguez ($15), a silken hummus topped with sliced lamb sausage, or kashk badenjoon ($15) a fried eggplant dip — all prepared with layers of flavors care of meticulous seasoning. You can easily graze through the Tastes section of the Rumi’s Kitchen menu rife with alluring dishes like those above, as well as dolmeh ($13), stuffed grape leaves filled with minced beef and rice glazed with a sweet and sour pomegranate sauce and corn ribs ($12) a fun snack of corn napped with jalapeno butter and sprinkled with a black seed dukkah (nut and spice blend).
You’ll certainly push away from the table more than satisfied.
Hungry? Move on to Rumi’s Feast section and be prepared for groaning portions you might wish to share. You’ll find marinated meat dishes from a lemon and saffron-brined chicken kabob ($24) to lamb bathed in a cooling yogurt marinade ($38) to an American Wagyu zabuton kabob ($55) rubbed with a urfa chili seasoning before it is grilled in the open kitchen. On the lighter side, delicate fish filets from Chilean sea bass ($47) to roasted salmon ($36) are proffered. Yet regardless of which protein of the 16 selections you choose, each comes with an ample side of signature fluffy basmati rice.
Some basmati is cooked with threads of saffron tinging the grains with a yellow hue, others paired with Rumi’s seafood and braised lamb shank options are seasoned with dill and fava bean. Still another variety is studded with sweet, plump raisins and protein-rich lentils.
Rumi’s Kitchen also offers a thoughtful cocktail and wine list. The latter features bottles that hail from European wine-making regions such as France, Italy, Spain and Germany, as well as a selection from the Middle East, South America and the Northwestern United States.
Rumi’s Kitchen can be found at 1801 Post Oak Boulevard, valet parking only. Is is open from 11:30 am to 10 pm Sundays through Thursdays and 11:30 am to 11 pm Fridays and Saturdays.