A lively spot with an authentic Cuban vibe…

There aren’t too many places where you’ll find an authentic Cuban experience in Dubai. With a cigar lounge, rum bar, Havana-inspired murals, and a menu of Caribbean food, Rumba Cuban Bar & Kitchen aims to provide just that.

Rumba recently opened at Palm Jumeirah’s Club Vista Mare, offering ocean views, beachside seating and a huge indoor space perfect for the summer. Much attention has been paid to the details of the venue, from the set design-like interiors transporting you to the streets of Cuba, to the napkins rolled up like cigars.

Waitstaff are dressed like dancers, as they skirt around the fully booked bar when we arrive. One side offers a casual seating area with high tables against a large painting of Havana. Thick velvet curtains separate it from the main dining area, where arch windows have been installed with flower bays, genuinely making us forget that we’re on the shores of a man-made island in the UAE.

The menu is designed like an old sepia newspaper. Many of the dishes are in Spanish, so we pester the team for suggestions on what to try. The croquetas (Dhs65) are a great choice, oozing with warm cheese around smoked veal, turkey ham pieces encased in a crunchy breadcrumb coating and dipped in alioli.

A large section of the menu is dedicated to cocktails, as well as 27 different types of rum. No matter what your preference in terms of beverages, the team are prepared to whip up something you’re bound to like.

We were very impressed by the tacos de pescado (Dhs85), because they were packed with flavour. Not holding back on the filling, each soft tortilla taco has a large piece of battered fish, slices of avocado, tasty coleslaw and drizzled with chipotle mayo.

If you’re into guacamole, Rumba’s signature version (Dhs89) is a must-try. Topped with skirt steak, cotija cheeese and light-as-air chips, we couldn’t help but to keep reaching back for another mouthful.

By the time the mains arrive, we’re already pretty full but are intrigued by the presentation of the pescado frito en mole verde (Dhs130). The dish looks as though it would fit in more in a fine dining restaurant; it’s a fillet of red snapper bathed in a light green sauce and finished with swirls of veg. Sadly most of the effort has been put into the presentation as the dish overall lacked any appealing taste.

Opting for meat in our other main course, we chose the ropa vieja (Dhs110). After polishing off all the starters, a heavy dish of pulled brisket and Cuban black beans and rice wasn’t the smartest choice. However the dish is super authentic and flavourful, if a little heavy on the spice for our taste.

Word seems to have spread about the new spot, as guests begin arriving in their numbers. Once the bar’s resident live band get up and running, we’re sure the busy streak will continue throughout the summer.

Rumba Cuban Bar & Kitchen, Club Vista Mare, Palm Jumeirah, daily 12pm to 1am. Tel: (0)4 570 8111. rumba.ae