Sunday, 19 January 2014

Pintxos/tapas @ The Rum Bar

The Rum Bar opened up last Friday and I only knew about it when I walked past after having some $1 oysters at C Dine Bar. The place was packed out and when I walked inside to look at a menu, I noticed there were complimentary tapas that night - a foodie's dream! However, the wait time for cocktails was 30mins and my partner didn't particularly want to stick around. We did manage to taste some of the Saganaki cheese on the way out - basically haloumi on toothpicks. Too much haloumi for me and I didn't like the funny taste it had.

I made it my mission to go back the following Friday to try the place out. Following some initial research on the Rum Bar, I knew it was going to be a 5 star tapas/pintxos/cocktail/rum bar. Since I don't drink, the tapas side interested me the most. So on that 41 degree Friday, my partner and I headed back. 
There was already a queue to the bar but a pintxos menu had been printed so we were able to decide on tapas and drinks while waiting. There was a 15min wait for cocktails at the time (6.30pm).


We ordered the Caribbean popcorn shrimp ($9) with in house piƱa colada dipping sauce. The sauce tasted more like a sweet coconut milk and I couldn't taste any alcohol in it. Lemon wedges were also provided. The shrimp was coated in this impressive layer of 'Caribbean' crumbed batter and sprinkled with chopped coriander (to my partner's disdain). 

Expecting small pieces of shrimp, I was pleased to find these were huge prawns (maybe king prawns?). There was a nice crunch when biting into these babies. The prawns were juicy and the crumbed batter had some spicy kick to it. The cold coconut milk dipping sauce helped counteract the spiciness. A beautiful combination! 
Huge shrimp
The pistachio crusted roast pumpkin and wild mushroom arancini balls ($12) were tasty and stuffed with a cheese cube in the middle. These were nice and warm and just melted in your mouth after biting into the crusted outer layer. Love the addition of pumpkin and the mushrooms were awesome. Although there are 3 per serve, these were a decent size and filling. The crispy wafer sitting on top was melted cheese cooked into a thin crisp - mmm cheesy. I loved the tomato relish on the side - a must try with the arancini balls! 
The charcuterie board ($22) consisted of shaved Wagyu beef, two types of prosciutto, olives, anchovies, chorizo, pate and house made poppyseed crisps. I was happy with the thin slices and selection of cold meats. The small chunks of chorizo were salty, spicy, oily and slightly charred but (evilly) still tasted good. I love the use of a small jar to contain the pate which had a layer of fat on top (yellow bit) and I thought tasted a bit like egg yolk.  Not a huge fan of pate, olives or sardines so I didn't have too much of this. The poppyseed crisps were thick and I nibbled on these by themselves. I could easily buy a pack of these if they sold them.
The Rum Bar BBQ chicken wings ($9) were marinated in the Rum Bar's signature rum marinade. These came out sitting on a wooden board with the pot lid overturned to be used for bones. The marinade tasted like a honey soy mix and there was a pool of it in the bowl. These were okay and certainly look fantastic but I didn't think they were great. Average chicken wings.
Some friends who showed up later ordered the Saganaki cheese ($9) - flaming cheese (Ouzo used on top to set fire to) with house made poppyseed crisps. Couldn't get a good shot of it as the napkin the dish was sitting on had accidentally caught on fire so our waitress was trying to put it out when she reached our table. Quite funny. It's basically one massive slab of haloumi. I didn't like it the first time and now I know it's because of the taste of the Ouzo. But others who like the taste of alcohol may think differently.
The crispy calamari with citrus aioli ($9) was also ordered but I was so full that I had to pass on a taste test. That hardly ever happens!
I was impressed with the presentation of all the pintxos here. The use of slate platters - with a smattering of spices and brushed on mayonnaise against the black slate gave it a fine-dining-esque feel.

Onto the drinks - I ordered a mojito mocktail ($6) which came out surprisingly quick. I spotted a whole sugar cube at the bottom that hadn't been mixed in properly (not sure if it was meant to be like that?) It was hard to mix through as there was lots of ice so the top half was sour and the bottom half very sweet. The straws, although cute and striped, are paper straws which go a little soggy if kept in your drink for long (or when trying to mix your drink through all the ice) and then a tear forms in the middle of the straw. Backup straws are required.

My partner ordered the pale pink Caipirinha ($15) that had Leblon Cachaca, fresh watermelon, lime juice, syrup and passion fruit pulp in it. There are many more to choose from in their cocktail menu. The blackboard to the side of the bar provided two additional cocktails of the night as well.
Water jugs with ice and slices of lemon inside are located at different spots inside and outside along with glasses for customers to help themselves to. These are regularly topped up.


As it got darker, the chandelier inside gives off a nice warm glow and there is a relaxed vibe with everyone out enjoying the summer night. 

Some minor annoyances - mainly teething issues: 
  • By 9pm the wait time for cocktails was 45mins. Some of the friendly wait staff informed us that additional bar staff would be employed as they are just testing the water and seeing what the crowd is like. Fair enough. The Rum Bar is the Kingston Foreshore's first pure bar that's open so it's proven to be highly popular, especially on a Friday night. 

  • Apparently there is a beer line and a cocktail line but these aren't clearly marked anywhere so when some friends finally got to the front and were informed they were in the wrong line, that didn't go down well. Are two separate lines necessary? Surely opening a bottle cap is quicker than making a cocktail?
  • There just aren't enough tables inside or outside. There is a piano in the corner (live music the opening Friday but none this week) but we thought it would be rude to place our drinks and food on that. I counted 3 tables for 2 inside by the window, a large brown leather corner lounge that could seat 6, and 3 small round high tables and a couple of stools inside. Outside, there are two massive wooden communal tables, some short wooden high tables and outdoor decking style tables and chairs at the front (in the sun). All seats were taken and the place was packed. There is a wooden counter where the wine bottles are kept so we stood there and kept an eye out for vacant tables. Definitely needs more tables so people have somewhere to place their drinks (especially considering the wait time that consequently led most people to ordering multiple drinks).
  • Table numbers given to diners could be looked into as the bar staff ask where you'll be sitting and considering there aren't enough places to sit, that's a tough call. Our waitress informed is that she was good with faces and would track us down which she did. But as the night wore on, we had various wait staff asking if we'd ordered whatever was on their tray and looking around generally confused. 

I certainly wasn't expecting this sort of food quality for a bar. I didn't think 4 tapas would fill us up entirely and was planning to head to Max Brenner next door for dessert but I was absolutely stuffed. Glad to see that a lot of things are made in house such as the crisps, pate, dipping sauces and who knows what else. Although there is a lengthy wait time for cocktails, the food took about 25mins to come out all at once. Mixologists seem to know what they're doing and I was entranced by watching them. Other wait staff are friendly and apologised for the long wait time for drinks. A few teething issues but I am suitably impressed and would go back. 

Open Wednesday to Sunday from 12 noon until late. Check out their Facebook page for food and drink updates.
Foodgasm 7.5/10
The Rum Bar on Urbanspoon

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