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Rumbi Grill has got a great thing goin’

SHARE Rumbi Grill has got a great thing goin’

It's good to be dining out again. I've been dining in for the past several weeks and believe me, it's been no picnic. If my own kitchen were reviewed . . . well, I wouldn't save the clipping and frame it, and there wouldn't be a banner outside saying "best of" anything.

In fact, all I'm consistently good for these days is a peanut-butter sandwich, and that's on whatever type of bread is in the cupboard!

Let's just say I've renewed my appreciation for all that it takes to successfully run an eating establishment.

Like the recently opened Rumbi Island Grill. It's exciting to see a fun concept take off. I heard it was packed the day the restaurant opened, so I went to see what was drawing a crowd.

Rumbi's has a fresh, efficient approach — a small-themed menu built around a core of staple items. Plus, they fix the food the way health-conscious people are eating these days.

Rumbi's also has a fun approach — a general category of island flavors built around primarily Jamaican and Hawaiian favorites. This theme certainly lends itself to funky decorating. Check out the masks if you go. I'd call it "industrial tiki."

With a small menu, it's easy to sample several things, especially when everything is so reasonably priced. I had something from each category: rice bowls, skewers, sandwiches and salads.

There aren't many places pulling off a good Jamaican Jerk around here. Some say they do, but they don't really deliver that swift kick in the pants. I liked the Jerk at Rumbi's (swift kick included). I had the bowl of grilled Jerk chicken with vegetables and Rumbi Rice.

Rumbi Rice is a blend of sweet and savory flavors and coconut prepared with rice. They say it's an authentic Jamaican concoction. I say it's the perfect foil for that kick in the pants I was talking about.

The vegetables were the way I like them — tender crisp. My only real complaint of the Jerk was that the chicken wasn't basted with the sauce I was given for dipping. That was awkward, and hinted at measures for efficient production.

Same with the teriyaki skewer, teriyaki sandwich and barbecue chicken salad; the sauce is added at the table. I'd forgotten we had the teriyaki sandwich since the chicken was delicious enough on its own, but then I remembered it was supposed to be teriyaki and found my little cup of jus. Strange.

The barbecue salad is a simple one, dressed lightly with ranch and dotted with black beans and bits of corn. But again, instead of basted at the grill, barbecue sauce was drizzled over the top of the chicken.

These are fairly minor complaints considering the chicken is tender and flavorful on its own.

We sampled a couple of fluff drinks (Rumbi serves the non-alcoholic versions). The lemon-lime margarita was zingy, with good texture. The guava colada was a little less refreshing as it was somewhat foamy and mild in flavor.

Don't forget to try the salsa. It's an unusual mix of fruity and robust flavors. And the chips are freshly made.

Dessert is simple, with just three choices. The mango-raspberry cheesecake was our favorite. It didn't taste like the fridge, and the sauce wasn't too sweet. The kiwi-lime version was not as good — same cheesecake but with a less authentic, somewhat cloying sauce.

Chocolate Thunder has good potential with its layers of cake and fudge icing, chocolate chips and sauce. It was too cold to break into with a plastic fork.

I'll eat at Rumbi's Island Grill again; it's healthy food of good quality. It's refreshing to have a choice of flavors a little off the beaten path.

Entrees range from $4.59-6.79; dessert, $1.99-$3.29; specialty drinks, $2.75.

Rumbi Island Grill

*** (out of five)

Location: 358 S. 700 East, 530-1000

Hours: Monday-Saturday 10:30 a.m. -11 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m.-9 p.m.

Payment: checks, major credit cards

E-MAIL: stephanie@desnews.com