If you love tapas and are hankering for a new place to enjoy a variety of small plates, the Bistro Group has opened its latest restaurant called Rumba whose offerings are inspired by the flavors of the Mediterranean. Located along Makati Avenue, on the ground floor of The Shops at Ayala Triangle Gardens, it has a menu with two pages of hot and cold tapas selections, and when it comes to look and style, the place is a worthy neighbor to the stately Blackbird.
Except Rumba’s interior is just more vibrant and sensual, just like the dance it’s named after. Emerald, gold and blue dominate its horizontal expanse, and all throughout one is drawn to a “patchwork of textures,” in the words of Andrew Trinidad, cofounder of architectural design studio Headroom which worked on the restaurant design. There are the plush bar stools in gold velvet, the ceiling of riveted wood, and the solihiya weaves on some of the furniture.
Patterns abound, too, they’re everywhere you look—on the geometric tiles on the floor, the glossy tiles on the walls reminiscent of those in a Spanish plaza, and the tasseled rugs that serve as decor hanging against a cream brick wall. Despite this wealth of elements, the overall feel is relaxed and luxurious.
“The theme of the interior space carrying colors and character of the Mediterranean landscape is the perfect accompaniment to dishes inspired [by cuisine] from Andalusia to Acropolis,” adds Trinidad.
The food, of course, is why you’re here: and the elevated bar that gives diners a peek at the action in the kitchen tells the visitor Rumba takes great pride in its gustatory offerings. The dishes are inspired by Spanish, Italian and Greek favorites (with a bit of French influence thrown in), but “the biggest influence is Spain since I am Spanish,” says the Chef Alfredo Rodriguez Sangrador. The 40-year old has made the Philippines his home since arriving in the country eight years ago, but he’s still one of those go-to guys when it comes to Manila’s Spanish fare—he is, after all, Head Chef of Bistronomia, which means he’s on top of successful Spanish concepts Las Flores, Rambla, Tomatito and BCN by Las Flores.
According to its press info, the charcoal oven plays a very special role in the Rumba kitchen, giving the chef’s specialty dishes their hints of smokiness. The paella, for one, is cooked in a cast-iron casserole which goes inside the restaurant’s Mibrasa charcoal oven stocked with charcoal from Spain. “Ninety percent of our dishes are cooked in the said oven,” says Sangrador, and this includes French-style free-range chicken, lamb chops, duck confit, octopus, shrimps, cheeses, and the house’s cochinillo. Meanwhile, their salmon, tomahawk steak, and tenderloin are cooked in an open charcoal grill.
As mentioned earlier, the tapas freak will have his fill here: there’s a lot of small plates on the menu. We recommend the Pulpo a la brasa (grilled octopus, ‘bagna gauda’ sauce, potatoes; P1,195), the Tortilla Bacalao (Spanish cod fish and potato omelet; P495), and the Empanadillas de Atun y Veiras (empanada with tuna and scallops stew; P450). As for the charcoal rice (they don’t call it paella because of the absence of a paellera), you can’t go wrong with the Negra Con Gambas (Shrimp and squid ink rice with aioli sauce; P1,595). If you’re feeling grand, and there are enough mouths on the table, go for the Cochinillo Segoviano, or Segovian-style roasted suckling pig, which can go from P3,495 (1.5 kilo) to P6,995 (6,995).
Rumba is a place where everything looks good, from their chic dining area to the food on your plate—so ready your camera phones. Even their comfort room is a stunner. Trinidad calls it “bold, striking, unapologetic.” And just like the rest of the restaurant, it’s a great selfie spot. Your lunch mates should forgive you if your powder room minute takes longer than usual.