Rumi Review – A San Francisco Restaurant You Should Know

San Francisco Splash Magazine is introducing a new column, “A San Francisco Restaurant You Should Know” which will appear whenever a restaurant qualifies for this category.  Rumi, located in San Carlos, initiates this column.  Check this column in the future to see which restaurants will appear.

Entering Rumi

Barbara and Leon are restaurant reviewers from Chicago Splash Magazine. On a visit to the Bay Area, tired and hungry they happened to find Rumi when their GPS lead them to a non-existent restaurant on Laurel Street in San Carlos.  Instead, there was Rumi.  Taking a chance, they walked in and found the interior a surprise, lovely and warm in contrast to the street, which is rather uninspired.  The food was wonderful. Returning to the Bay Area several months later, an extended stay presented the opportunity to review of this restaurant with our Bay Area reviews.

Walking in to Rumi

Rumi takes its’ name after a 13th-century Persian Muslim poet, jurist, theologian, and Sufi mystic.  You can find his wise sayings are on all the menus.  “Extraordinary fusion of fresh and locally grown California ingredients with timeless flavors of Mediterranean and Persian spices” says Rumi’s website. Returning to review Rumi with Bay Area reviewers, Muriel and David, it was reinforcing that they also found the interior cozy and welcoming and thought it a "hidden gem".  Dinner was an extended and lovely experience with great service and wonderful food.  In short, Rumi serves “scratch” food, everything made from scratch using locally grown organic produce, meats, cheeses and other foods as much as possible.  The way in which vegetables are used in all the dishes, chosen for color, texture and flavor contrast made for enjoyable eating.  The wine list is extensive and local including only California wines most of which can’t be found in your local store.  We thought the prices were right.

Chef Michael and Ashley, our server

Three years ago owner, Shahab Tehrani opened Rumi, fulfilling a longstanding dream.  Happily, he staffed the restaurant with Chef Michael TamBurina.   Chef Michael began his training at the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. He went on to work in several high-end restaurants including Roy’s, and Wolfgang Puck.  Trying to find a way to spend time with his young son, Chef Michael who lives in San Carlos, decided to use his skills garnered from far and near at Rumi’s.  He shared with us his delight in the way the restaurant is part of the neighborhood with neighbors sharing their bounty of figs from a tree across the street and persimmons from a tree nearby and herbs and Meyer lemons and tomatoes from his own home.

Our server, Ashley Sprenkel, was attentive, knowledgeable, and charming as she served the following.


House Made Flatbread w/trio of dips

From the two appetizers, our group decided to share the “House Made Flatbread w/trio of dips”.   Barbara especially enjoyed the butter bean, cilantro & feta dip, while Muriel, David and Leon thought the roasted red pepper & goat cheese dip “with a burst of flavor” was the best.  The entire group found the eggplant, walnut and roasted garlic dip to be a mild contrast to the others.  It is a very colorful presentation.

Soup & Salad:

From the choice of six items, our group decided to share the “Sweet Spice Roasted Beet Salad w/ Goat Cheese”.  This salad is beautiful, with wild arugula, pistachio dusted Laura Chenel goat cheese, blood orange segments, and toasted pistachios, topped with golden balsamic-roasted garlic vinaigrette.  Muriel commented that she liked the way pistachio nuts contrasted with the smoothness of the goat cheese and the clean taste of the arugula. David thought the goat cheese was great and the beets as sweet as anything he had tasted.  Leon’s “Wow” was in response to the surprise of the blood orange flavor.  Barbara liked the firmness of the beets in contrast to the soft and the crunch of the nuts.

Small Share Plates:

Sweet Spice Roasted Beet Salad w/Goat Cheese

From a choice of eight varied items that included; chicken, prawns, gnocchi and more, we chose the “Hot Smoked Salmon & Corn Polenta Cake”, a good choice, with house smoked Loch Duarte salmon candy, fried polenta cake, wild arugula, caper Chive crème fraiche and roasted basil dressing.  The salmon is marinated for two days with soy, ginger, mustard and brown sugar and the smoked over apple wood chips and was unlike anything any of us had tasted.  The crispness and texture of the polenta cake was the perfect contrast to the smoother and mellow salmon.


With twelve choices, our group really had a hard time deciding which to choose –everything was appealing.  

Roasted Rosen Ranch Lamb Top Sirloin

Muriel chose the “Roasted Rosen Ranch Lamb Top Sirloin” which is Tunisian baharat marinated grilled lamb loin,  masala spiced cauliflower, sugar snap peas and arbequina olive oil smashed fingerling potatoes with pomegranate drizzle.  She noted that the pomegranate didn’t overwhelm and in fact, blended deliciously with the natural lamb juices.  Muriel also enjoyed the fresh crunch of the snap peas.  She appreciated the use of several vegetables integrated into the plate.

Steel Pan Seared Petrale Sole

David selected the “ Steel Pan Seared Petrale Sole”.  This was served with warm salad of pearl cous cous, pea tendrils, asparagus, sugar snaps peas, flambo radishes, with cardamom lime vinaigrette.  He found the fish preparation to be different than other preparations he has had.  The cous cous, too, was unlike any he had tasted and the cardamom flavor was wonderful and unusual. The vegetables added flavor and texture.

Prawn & Cannellini Bean Cassoulette

Leon requested the “Prawn and Cannellini Bean Cassoulette”.  This included white prawns & cannellini beans, swiss chard, fire roasted red peppers, asparagus spears and oyster mushrooms.  He was happily overwhelmed with all the flavors and textures he loves.  The spices and smoothness of the peppers contrasted with the crunch and gentler flavor of the asparagus and the mellow mushrooms.

Five Vegetarian Tastes

Barbara, being the vegetarian in the group was happy with the “Five Vegetarian Tastes”.  She chose them all but they can be ordered separately.  Included were whipped Yukon Gold potatoes, sautéed Bloomsdale spinach, pan seared oyster mushrooms, masala spiced cauliflower and oven roasted tomatoes. The tomatoes were outstanding in texture and flavor and were a good foil for the mellower spinach, mushrooms and potatoes.  The cauliflower though less flavorful than expected, was nevertheless a good texture contrast.

We voted the lamb and the prawns a tie for best entrée.

Dessert and Coffee:

The menu includes an extensive variety of beverages. Muriel was very impressed with the French press coffee, which she greatly enjoyed.

Mcaughlin Coffee Company (Emeryville)french press coffee

How could we manage dessert, you may wonder.  We wondered too, but it disappeared instantly.  From the list of six desserts and several dessert wines, we chose to share the “Petite Dark Chocolate Pot du Crème” with almond shortbread cookies, and  “Vanilla Bean Risotto Rice Pudding” with cherry compote.

Petite Dark Chocolate Pot du Creme

Muriel thought the cookies were absolutely delicious, David said it was something special while Leon found the cookies a great compliment to the smooth and less sweet chocolate.  Barbara thought the Pot du Crème was decadent and wonderful with the whipped cream light and fluffy and the dark chocolate flavor.

Vanilla Bean Risotto Rice Pudding

The rice pudding looking innocent wasn’t.  The rice was pleasant and sweet and the cherries were chewy and sour and just great together.  All agreed with Muriel when she commented the sweet and sour of the rice pudding was heavenly, and a perfect ending to the meal and a lovely evening.

Manager, Tony Rodrigues and the daily special

Tony Rodrigues,  Manager,  runs a number of several special events including:
VIP Guest Club and email program that now boast 800 members and is growing.  This provides loyal customers the opportunity to take advantage of a variety of special offers such as reduced wine prices.

The small bar area hold more wines than expected

Wine tastings the first Wednesday of each month in cooperation with local wineries.

Sundays and Mondays there is half price on select red wines (choice of 20 wines.)

Tuesdays nights- prix fix menu.

Specials every night.

1179 Laurel Street,
San Carlos CA 94070 (650) 593-8500

Mon - Thu 5:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Fri - Sat 5:00 PM - 9:30 PM
Sun 5:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Mon - Sat 11:30 AM - 3:00 PM

Sun 11:00 AM - 3:30 PM

Photos: Leon Keer

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