PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston December 2023

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Page 29 of 91

T he Sufi mystic poet Rumi (Jalal al-Din Muhammad Rumi) is famous for penning the Persian tome Masnavi, a 13th-century spiritual text that has inspired generations with its insights into self-discovery, love, and spirituality. Today, Rumi's theologian work is considered the greatest Sufi poem ever written. One devotee is Iranian-born chef Ali Mesghali, whose Rumi's Kitchen — the glittering Persian-style eatery he founded in Atlanta in 2006 — recently opened on Post Oak Boulevard. Situated on the boulevard along with Uchiko and Zadok Jewelers, Rumi's Kitchen was designed by The Office of Michael Hsu, the award-winning architecture firm that has retooled the facades (and some interiors) of numerous Uptown eateries. Atlanta-based design firm The Johnson Studio infused the 5,500-square-foot space with natural light, care of floor-to-ceiling windows draped with sheer curtains that diffuse the glow. The smoked mirror behind a row of plush banquette seating depicts a mural of the tree of life, while custom black metal lights overhead spin gently with the breeze, like the skirts of a whirling dervish. The rustic neutral-colored walls resemble a simple brick façade covered in creamy plaster slurry, while cool cement floors in the dining area contrast with the intricate herringbone hardwoods in the adjoining bar. Utilizing the centu- r i e s - o l d c o o k i n g techniques of his homeland, Mesghali creates dishes that transcend the sum of their parts while reflecting his culinary heritage. Persian cook and food writer Samin Nosrat, author of Salt Fat Acid Heat, writes in The New York Times: "Persian cuisine is, above all, about balance — of tastes and flavors, texture and temperature. In every meal, even on every plate, you'll find both sweet and sour, soft and crunchy, cooked and raw, hot and cold." It's not considered a spicy cuisine, per se, but you'll find Rumi's myriad dishes prepared with layers of flavor, care of meticulous seasoning at each stage of preparation. Start with lamb merguez, a silken hummus topped with sliced lamb sausage ($15), or kashk badenjoon, a fried eggplant dip ($15). You can graze through the Tastes section of the menu and push away from the table more than satisfied, with alluring options such as dolmeh, stuffed grape leaves filled with minced beef and rice glazed with a sweet-and- sour pomegranate sauce ($13), and corn ribs, a fun snack of corn on the cob napped with jalapeño butter and sprinkled with black seed dukkah, a nut and spice blend ($12). Move on to the Feast section for groaning portions you can share. Marinated meat dishes include a lemon and saffron-brined chicken kabob ($28), lamb kabob bathed in a cooling yogurt marinade ($38), and an American Wagyu Zabuton kabob rubbed with a Urfa chili seasoning before it's grilled in the open kitchen ($55). On the lighter side, delicate fish filets range from Chilean sea bass ($47) to roasted salmon ($36). Even though those of the Muslim faith don't drink, Rumi's offers a thoughtful cocktail and wine list, the latter with bottles from France, Italy, and Greece, as well as selections from the Middle East and the Northwestern U.S. Rumi's Kitchen, 1801 Post Oak Blvd., By Laurann Claridge. Photography Nicole Mammarella. Makiin Mystic Kitchen American Wagyu Zabuton kabob at the new Rumi's Kitchen Gifts of the Beloved cocktail Bar at Rumi's Kitchen 28

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