Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Birth of a dining critic

Posted By on Tue, Apr 28, 2009 at 1:35 PM

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Below is a review of Rumi's Kitchen by 12-year-old Cooper Drose. He is a sixth-grade student at Pace Academy and wrote this for his English class, taught by Eric Wilhelm.

Cooper is the son of Gerald Drose and Dina Zeckhausen, both psychologists.

The end of this review took me by surprise since Cooper otherwise writes a very positive review. His mother theorizes that, although he realized the food was good, he'd still prefer a burger or a pizza. But kudos to his teacher for making an assignment that used dining to compel Cooper and his classmates to move outside their usual comfort zones. (CB)

By Cooper Drose

My family recently ate at a restaurant called Rumi’s Kitchen which features Persian cuisine. Rumi was a poet who lived in Persia eight centuries ago. His poetry was about love and life; this restaurant reflected a warm and loving atmosphere.

The first thing you notice when you enter the restaurant is the comfortable feeling. It is a quiet, mellow room with soft music playing in the background. On a table on the right, there are a number of small dishes holding different spices. These are some of the typical Persian spices used in the dishes in Rumi’s Kitchen.

The main room is elongated and narrow with soft lighting. On the left side of the room is a tiled archway looking into the kitchen where you can see the bread being cooked in a wood-fire oven. Just past that, there is a wall topped with glass vases of many different shapes and sizes. On your right you can see a long porch with “outdoor” seating.

The waiters and waitresses were wearing simple black outfits, the women in dark flowing dresses and the men in black pants and shirts. They had dark complexions and black hair and appeared to have come from the Middle East. Our waitress was very kind. She asked me about my restaurant review and seemed enthusiastic about my project. She came over to our table and talked to us about every dish, explaining how they made each dish and their various ingredients.

The first course that came out was a metal basket of pita bread along with a Spice Plate, a curved white platter with different food items on display. The pita bread reminded me of a pizza crust: the triangular slices were soft, with chewy air pockets made crispy from the wood-fire over. The Spice Plate included fresh leaves of tarragon, mint, radishes, walnuts, feta cheese and butter. I would have never thought of putting these different tastes together! Our waitress explained the way in which we were supposed to eat the dish, by putting the different items on the warm pita bread and folding it in half. My favorite combination was butter, tarragon and walnut. The combination was crunchy and chewy at the same time.

We waited a long time for our appetizers to arrive. It turns out the waitress forgot to tell the kitchen about our order! While we waited, we stuffed ourselves with too much delicious pita bread. When our main course finally arrived, it was displayed on two large white rectangular platters. One of them had two kinds of rice: plain white rice with bright golden saffron sprinkled on top, and the other rice included golden and purple raisins, as well as lentils. I recommend the white rice because of its sweet and salty essence.

On the other platter there were three kinds of kabobs: lamb, chicken, and beef. All of them were cooked in the wood-fire oven and had been marinated in different spices. The meats were very crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. My favorite was the lamb which had a savory flavor and a spice that tasted like soy-sauce. The waitress explained that the traditional way to eat the dish was to take some meat and rice and then smash the grilled tomato into it, then sprinkle a deep red spice on top called “sumac.” My mother asked if this spice was related to the poison sumac plant. The waitress said, “Yes, but thankfully it isn’t poisonous. That wouldn’t be very good for business!”

We were too stuffed for dessert so we decided to skip it. However, our waitress read us a list of many different Persian desserts that sounded unique and interesting.

I would give this restaurant 3.5 stars, based on 4 stars for food and 3 stars for service. If I had a choice I would not come back to this restaurant. If I came back, I would not eat so much bread and I would try the dessert!

“Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.” ~Rumi~

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