Nestled among the menagerie of businesses on a bustling strip of Roswell Road, is easy to miss. Once you’ve eaten there, it’ll be hard to forget.
Five years ago Chef/owner Ali Mesghali and his wife Maryam, felt the time was right to bring a more upscale contemporary Persian restaurant to Sandy Springs. Chef Ali credits Maryam, a dentist, for her assistance in the planning, opening and choosing the restaurant’s name, which was inspired by the Persian poet Rumi.
Entering the doors of the restaurant, the tone is set by the warm mix of stylish contemporary décor with vibrant Middle Eastern touches and a peek into the kitchen through an arched tile opening. Butterscotch walls liven with dramatic splashes of red and black artwork, sleek black tables and, caramel upholstered banquettes and chairs are framed by the soft glow of ornatedly rimmed globe ceiling lights and a flickering wall of candles. A covered patio flanked by large leafy plants and a Zen-like slate stone fountain, extends the dining area.
The atmosphere draws you in, while the bright flavors of well-prepared foods and attentive service keep you returning.
“In the beginning it was just a way to earn a living”, recalled Chef Ali. “Later, food, cooking and giving people a good dining experience became my passion.”
Chef Ali moved to the U.S. from Iran in 1977, and has worked in the restaurant business since 1984, starting as a dishwasher in high school and eventually learning to cook. Before opening Rumi’s, he was a partner and chef at , where he gained a loyal following.
Rumi’s offers a menu of traditional dishes skillfully prepared and stunningly presented using only the freshest ingredients. To emphasize his commitment to freshness, Chef Ali noted, “We even have fresh produce delivered to us 6 days a week.”
You’ll need no convincing when a plate of the most robust herbs, crisp radishes, cucumbers, feta cheese and walnuts, served with warm oven-fresh flatbread, arrives at your table.
Appealing appetizers and light dishes include the Rumi’s Dip (chickpea hummus), Dolmeh (hand-rolled grape leaves stuffed with ground beef, rice and herbs), Mirza Ghasemi (smoked eggplant in tomatoes and garlic) and fresh salads topped with a charbroiled chicken breast marinated in lemon saffron sauce or roasted salmon.
The heart and soul of the restaurant are the deftly seasoned grilled kabobs and stews served with mounds of aromatic basmati and bright yellow saffron rice. Specially marinated and charbroiled strips of juicy tenderloin, boneless cuts of lamb, chicken, seasoned ground chuck or jumbo prawns, in addition to hearty vegetable kabobs, offer something for every palate.
Other popular dishes are the braised lamb shank and veal stews slow-cooked with eggplant, sautéed vegetables and special seasonings.
A blissful dessert option is the cardamom saffron ice cream sandwich, laced with pistachios and rosewater.
Even in a weak economy, business at Rumi’s Kitchen has steadily grown each year. Chef Ali attributes the restaurant’s success to, treating customers as they are guests at his home. He also said, “Three Keys to a Good Restaurant…ambiance, food/wine and service.”
Building on their success, plans are in development for a move to a larger 6,000 square-foot space by the end of 2012. The new undisclosed location will be within walking distance of the current Sandy Springs site and include 4,000 square-feet dedicated to a spacious kitchen, buffet area and room for private parties.
Occupying the remaining space will be an upscale deli café with freshly prepared Persian foods and a gourmet market offering the finest cooking ingredients.
Clearly, Chef Ali has taken these words of the poet Rumi to heart,
“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.”
6152 Roswell Road
Sandy Springs, Ga. 30328