Well you can officially stick a bloody fork in my efforts at Meatless Monday. A recent visit to see Charles Fields, the bar manager of Rumba, 3009 West End Avenue, was the straw (or is it the camel?) that broke this semitarian's back.
I hadn't even gone looking for food. Having met Charles at the Bombay Sapphire/GQ Magazine Inspired Bartender Search, I found him an inspired, thoughtful cocktail artist. Bites commenter Stephanie also recommended that I go check him out in his native habitat, and far be it from me to reject the suggestion of a reader.
Charles and his partner in lime, the extremely engaging Christopher "Speedy" Krantz, run a very tight ship behind the bar at Rumba. They know and care about their ingredients and take a mindful approach to their cocktail creations. Having spent a month in Brazil several years ago, they had me at "Cachaça." When I saw that they were infusing their own sugarcane hooch in a vessel with cucumber, grapes, pears, mint and lime, I knew I had to try some and put my drink order in their able hands.
Charles's suggestion was a "Prester John," named for a mythical Christian king of the Middle Ages. Old King John's eponymous cocktail was pretty mythical too. A heavy hit of the infused cachaça was tempered by a shot of the ubiquitous mixer-of-the-moment St. Germaine elderflower liqueur and topped with a float of lovely floral Green Chartreuse. Unlike other episodes I have had with the Brazilian firewater, I was left with entirely no urge to fight with total strangers. The fruits and florals combined to create a smooth cocktail that was the result of great forethought.
While I was enjoying my second one (just to see if my pugilistic tendencies had merely been delayed rather than completely eliminated), Charles asked whether I knew about their "Mucho Mondays" promotion. I flinched, knowing that this would probably run counter to the ole Meatless Monday.
As a result of the success of Rumba's $30.09 3-course prix fixe deal during Nashville Originals Restaurant Week, Rumba decided to offer a choice of a small plate, an entree and a dessert on Mondays for the ridiculously reasonable price of $22. Considering that both the tasty zarzuela, a Spanish-style bouillabaisse with fish, shrimp, mussels and flash-fried potatoes in tomato-saffron broth, and their popular Jamaican Jerk Pork dinner are normally over twenty bucks, this deal amounts to an appetizer and a dessert for next to nothing.
"Mucho Monday" does not include items from Rumba's separate Fuego menu which come from the wood oven located alongside the original kitchen, but those selections of ceviches, flatbreads, pizzas and tapas are already bargains in the $2-$10 range. Don't show up at Rumba on Mondays in an indecisive mood. The variety of choices can be a little overwhelming, but with the discerning guidance of the bar and wait staff you shouldn't be disappointed.
I'm now investigating Fruitarian Fridays. Personally, I think it doesn't look like much fun ...