When I heard the news that RHUM would finally be opening in Patchogue last December, it seemed like a curious decision. The logo itself touts its “island-inspired” cuisine, and winter is when we crave brown spirits and heavy beers: How would passion fruit piña coladas and coconut mojitos fare during the holiday season, and then in the dead of winter? Somehow, RHUM made it work, thanks to an atmosphere that allows for a near-total escape from whatever unpleasant weather is happening outside its turquoise windows.
This timing wasn’t exactly planned, though. Newsday reported on February 29, 2016 that the space would open up during the summer; the delay ended up actually being two years long. But it’s better late than never when it comes to the grilled artichokes, duck empanadas and sweet fried plantains on offer here.
The same team behind Rumba and Cowfish in the Hampton Bays created the concept, which is a three-story monument to tropical flavors and Puerto Rican Don Q rum, in the place where Lawan Thai restaurant lived from 2003 to 2014. There are even swings on the top floor—a dangerous proposition with this much liquor being served, but a killer source of Instagram fodder. When the warm weather finally rolls around again, they’ll even open up the roof, the first space of its kind in the town that has become a go-to for everyone seeking out a party.
And while Main Street has been good for a party for a few years now, the food hasn’t quite matched up—until RHUM. While you can’t quite pin the cuisine down to a specific country—it runs the gamut from straight-up Caribbean fare, to items that are vaguely more Latin American, to American Southern, with the Pimento cheese they pair with chips and guacamole in the “Double Dip”—all of it tastes good, and there are quite a few options for vegetarians (vegans can also make it work, and many items are gluten-free or can be made so).
In a town most known for its beer bars, it’s also notable for the fun cocktails. They could have easily veered into the too sweet or kitschy, but all are incredibly well balanced. The punch, made with Cruzan light and dark rum, orange curacao, pineapple, orange and lime juice, is refreshing and just boozy enough. If you love coconut, that coconut mojito is a creamy blend with a hint of mint. Most interesting might be the Hot and Stormy, made with homemade banana-vanilla rum, jalapeño and ginger beer—a fruity, spicy take on the classic Dark and Stormy (which they make with Gosling’s Black Seal Rum, per tradition).
Word is already getting out about RHUM—a recent Saturday afternoon saw the second floor totally packed—so for anyone who wants to eat well, escape the cold with rum and maybe even swing around indoors, make sure you get to Patchogue before the lines definitely start to form this spring and summer.
Featured photo by Alicia Kennedy.