Eatery - Rumba (WA)
1112 Pike St, Seattle, WA 98101 (Neighborhood: Capitol Hill)
Pricing - $/$$ | Dining - Casual | Cuisine - Caribbean
A rum bar? A RUM BAR? Sign me up! I was not so interested in the fact that it was rum as the spirit of choice but that there was a place focused on one particular alcohol. I first heard of Rumba from a friend who had gone there previously and recommended it. Upon further internet-ing, I saw that it featured shelves upon shelves of the stuff; not only that but it also served Caribbean and Cuban food. Considering the lack of such in Orange County and how much I miss the food from Jamaica, Rumba had me sold. When Duc and I finally went to Seattle, we made sure to put Rumba's Happy Hour on our list of things to do. We met up with friends and were quite pleased by the experience.
As Seattle's first rum bar, Rumba definitely holds its title proudly with more than 400 selections of rum available. Wall to wall, the shelving for each unique bottle reached the ceiling, and it was nearly overwhelming. I loved how colorful the entire interior of the place was with its "wallpaper" made of photographs. The booths featured turquoise-upholstered seating, and the lamps had orange tinges on the inside. We were immediately greeted with such welcome that our server felt like an old friend. Though the rum menu was extensive, we opted for cocktails of the rum instead because we didn't want to make a decision of where to start.
My choice was their Sexy Rum Old Fashioned ($11 - Plantation 5 year, Plantation Dark, allspice dram, and bitters) which gave a nice view into what a mix of rums would be. The allspice gave a distinguishable taste reminiscent of Caribbean cuisine, and overall the drink was quite balanced. Duc's Presidente ($10 - rum, curacao, grenadine, and blanc vermouth) came by suggestion of our server and was an easy-to-drink cocktail with good sweetness and orange influence. One of our friends ended up with their Daiquiri No. 2 ($9 - rum, curacao, lime, and orange), a simple choice but one that would impart more rum flavor. All of their daiquiris come either up or over shaved ice; he went with shaved ice but I felt like it may have watered down the daiquiri too quickly.
We had arrived during their Happy Hour (5-6pm daily) on purpose so we could enjoy some good deals on their small selection of specials in that hour. From the options, the one chosen with the discount was their Chicharones ($5.5 - citrus & spice dusted pork rinds), a veritably addictive pile of airy rinds with just the right amount of citrus and spice. I could not stop snapping into these because they were so large in size and flavor. After a while though, it started to taste quite salty. We also ordered their Coconut Ceviche ($9 - tilapia, shrimp, jicama, coconut milk, and tortilla chips), a way of ceviche being done that I hadn't seen before. Ceviche in coconut milk? That is not very common but it should be. The creaminess at such a cold temperature marries everything together well, and the freshness of the seafood is still able to shine. I loved how abundant the fish and shrimp were; the jicama's crunch was an absolutely nice crunch. In fact, I'm practically drooling now remembering this dish.
Because our friends in attendance weren't too hungry and we had a second dinner to catch that same night, we all just shared one entree - the Pepperpot Chicken ($13 - Jerk spices, dark rum, island curry, and okra rice). I am so glad this was the dish we finally decided on because it was sublime. The chicken was one of the moistest I have ever had. I was surprised it managed to have a little bite on the edges to it underneath the sumptuous curry smothering it. The rice was also phenomenal, made in a pilaf style with a lot of bell pepper and okra flavors. It had a good cleanness to it to offset the heaviness of the curry. No wonder this is one of their most popular dishes! If you are in Seattle, I suggest you hit up Rumba to have yourself a very, merry time.
Photography by Duc Duong.