Rumba has a new menu and while there's still a strong Latin flavor to it, the restaurant seems to have somewhat de-emphasized the “Mexi-Cuban” label that it used freely when it first opened. “Mexi-Cuban” may have discouraged the less adventurous eaters, and there are a lot of them around.
Rumba still has tapas, one of the things we remember best from our last dinner there, some months ago. The tapas menu includes such as breaded calamari with creamy chipotle sauce ($5), chorizo and potato empanada ($3), portobello and tomato skewers ($4). The thing about tapas is, if you decide to make a whole meal off them, as we have done on occasion, you can spend a fair amount of money and still feel a little peckish.
But we passed on the tapas this time around and ordered from the regular menu. Starters were “Queso Classic” and a Cuban Salad. “Queso Classic” means “like everybody else's cheese dip” but the chips had an enjoyable extra zing, chili powder maybe. We enjoyed the salad — lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, pico de gallo, a vinaigrette? dressing — and we would like to have enjoyed it more, but it's a rather small salad. Some larger and more expensive salads are on the menu.
Some people scoff at any kind of Surf and Turf, but the Surf and Turf Rumba sounded pretty good to us — grilled flank steak with a rum portobello mushroom gravy, seasoned shrimp and mashed potatoes. And it was pretty good, except for the shrimp, which were over-cooked.
Our companion had the pork tenderloin in a mango citrus marinade served with tostones, fuji apples and (allegedly) pineapple salsa, but the pineapple salsa didn't make it to the table. The pork, like the shrimp, had spent too much time on the grill. Dessert was a five-layer chocolate torte that was dry.
On our waitress's recommendation, we had a Blue Moon draught beer. She was right. As you'd expect, Rumba has a number of exotic-sounding drinks, like Latin Kiss, Strawberry Fields, etc. One of us tried the Strawberry Fields, a red vodka concoction, and liked it. Very sweet, but what do you expect from a drink with a name like that?
We had lunch a few days earlier, and we found the Gringo Burger and the seasoned fries still to our liking. For a dollar extra you can get guacamole on the burger — good, but messy. The lunch menu has a number of sandwiches, including blackened fish (grilled tilapia with lettuce, tomato, swiss cheese and chipotle mayo).
Even with a disappointment or two, we'll go back to Rumba. We want to like this place, and some aspects are easy to like — the laid-back atmosphere, the interesting menu. A little more attention to detail — what's been on the grill how long — would help.
Rumba is the dining half of Rumba Revolution, located in the River Market. Revolution is the entertainment, live-music part, but it's all connected. There's a patio, popular in pleasant weather, and the patio doesn't care whether you're there for the Rumba or the Revolution.
300 President Clinton Ave.
Some interesting combinations on the menu, especially among the tapas. The Sunday brunch is a welcome addition to a River Market that's usually quiet on Sunday.
Monday through Thursday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday noon to 9 p.m.
Prices mostly moderate. Credit cards accepted. Full bar.