Since the beginning, Rumba's bar menu has come courtesy of its neighboring sister restaurant, Tango, where the executive chef would do double duty. That's left Rumba with satisfying bar snacks, sure—especially after a rum-fueled cocktail or two—yet they perhaps lacked much inspiration. Enter Jed Lutge.
This month Lutge takes on the job of being Rumba's first dedicated chef. "I want to get Rumba's [menu] where it should be: as elevated as the rum," says Lutge, a rum buff who's wanted to work at the cocktail lounge on Pike to cook food as varied and nuanced the bar's reigning alcohol.
Lutge's menu is slowly but surely taking form—he does have to use Tango's kitchen and contend with Rumba's small one, still, he says he wants to freshen things up, bring in local produce, seasonality, and get to more Caribbean and Latin flavors than the lounge's explored in the past. Yes, the empanadas and tacos will remain, but, he says, the former will have various fillings like one with poblano chilies, beef, and corn, or steak with rose harissa. Fish tacos would mean rockfish, not tilapia, and eventually Lutge hopes to make their own torillas. What else? Trinidadian doubles made with curried green chickpeas, mango chutney, and creme fraiche, all atop flatbread.
Before Lutge was thinking of flatbreads and fillings, he created the menu at Uncle Eddie's, a new pub in South Park (peep What We're Eating Now in this month's issue of Seattle Met), where his plan was to just get things up and running, then make his inevitable exit. Before that, he was at a farm-to-table French restaurant inside the 222 Market in Olympia and Latona Pub for nine years.
Meanwhile there's also a sort-of new chef at Tango, sous-turned-executive-chef Rogelio Raynoso.
Owner Travis Rosenthal's installed these two new chefs amid exciting news for Rumba: it was just named one of Tales of the Cocktail's Top 10 Best Cocktail Bars in the West with a world-class spirit selection. We see you, Rumba.