Starting a Rumberos
Like girls who got gussied up for the school dance and then spent the night sitting on the sidelines, Julia and I had a huge letdown at dinner last evening. We boogied over to Rumberos, a brand new restaurant in Columbia Heights' Tivoli Square in hopes of a spicy feast and delicious summer cocktails. We emerged from dinner with lighter wallets and less spring in our step.
From the posse behind Rumba Cafe, this Latin American restaurant promises a full menu that represents regions throughout South and Central America and lists dishes from a seafood paella to an Argentine platter of grilled meats with chimichurri. But for now, there is a smaller selection of dishes available. Starters include a cold avocado soup and sauteed shrimp in a spicy butter sauce, and among the entrees, we tried the chicken in mole sauce and langoustines and lobster tail in garlicky white wine and lemon.
The restaurant has a spacious bar, and the drinks were delicious. We delighted in watching our bartender mix together vibrant green leaves of mint for our freshly muddled caipirinhas and mojitos. But the food, well, left us wanting more drinks. The prices are high -- entrees range from $16 to $25 and the meat platter for two will be $40 -- and the quality does not match the price tag. The mole chicken, which was advertised as boneless and spicy, was actually a quarter of puckered white and fatty chicken under a layer of mole-inspired cumin-scented paste. The langoustines were dry, but certainly more passable than the chicken.
Promising nights of live music and walls displaying local art work, the restaurant may, we hope, grow into its ambitions. The area could use some unique independent flavor. Until it does, stop in for a drink and maybe an appetizer, and then hop over to Taqueria Distrito Federal or Tonic to grab a bite.
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