The long-awaited opening of the tiki bar Rhum is finally here. Hallelujah! While we've had a mild winter so far, it's still a much needed oasis that will help to mediate your seasonal affective disorder.
Rhum is located under Arabica Coffee on Spring St. next to Styxx (technically 4 Free St. for your Uber driver). The lounge is set back off the street a bit and has a black front, so it could be easy to miss. Once you're inside, it's pretty dark (there's no windows), which creates a cozy and mysterious vibe. That, combined with some strong rum drinks, means you could lose many hours in here.
I've already been twice, and each time I had to get the painkiller (shown above, right). It's delicious and goes down way too easy. The tiki drink menu includes classics like the mai tai, fogcutter, rum runner, and junglebird, all served in ceramic skull mugs (made by a local Portland artist) and decked out with fruit and sparkling garnish.
The long narrow space is filled with a U-shaped bar, adorned with grass. Along one wall is high, communal tables and along the other, a winding banquette with club chairs and small tables creating cozy nooks to gather.
The kitchen is Frank Anderson and Rebecca Ambrosi, chefs who have run a local supper club, as well as one in L.A., with help from Fred Eliot, formerly of Petite Jacqueline. I tried the pupu platter (market price - $18 that night) to sample a few things at once: crab rangoon, edamame, prawn crackers, housemade jerky, chicken liver patê with tamarind chutney, and short riblets. It came in a vintage rotating wooden tray with a festive sterno in the middle. I loved everything on the sampler and heard raves about other menu items like the hiramasa poké and the kaya toast (with coconut jam and a soft-boiled egg).
Head over to Rhum as soon as you can for some strong drinks and some updated Polynesian fare - it's open 7 days a week at 4p.m. (kitchen opens at 5). It's what Portland has been missing - a lounge full of escapism with an air of mystery. It's the perfect place to sip on some rum until beach weather returns.