Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Dinner And A Movie: Rumba Cafe' and Sherlock Holmes

We have some new contributors to the Daily Meaux that we'd like to introduce you to. Please welcome the "Three Amigos: Madame X, Jester, and Sandeman"....our new 'Dinner and a Movie' critics. Recently they visited a new Cuban restaurant in Lafayette and saw the new Robert Downey Jr. flick. Here's what they had to say about both....

The Three Amigos visited Rumba Café recently. The café, which has been open less than three months, was warm and welcoming, painted in soft pleasing pastels, and very clean. Easy Latin music played unobtrusively in the background and the friendly and accommodating waiter greeted us immediately and let us pick our own table in the roughly 50-seat dining room.

The restaurant is anticipating receiving a liquor license in a few weeks but in the meantime, diners can bring their own wine and have it corked at the table. We chose refreshing canned Latin soft drinks and juices but regular American soft drinks are also available. Madame X was very pleased that the drinks were served with the drinking end of the straw still wrapped in its protective covering and the water was served without too much ice.

The empanaditas de picadillo (6 for $6.50), small ground beef meat pies, were the favorite all around of the two appetizers tried. The croquetas de carne (5 for $6.50), little beef croquettes, were also tasty. Both were served with a cream cheese sauce that was unremarkable. The waiter told us later that the croquetas de tuna rellenas were his favorite of the appetizers so we made a note to try them next time. Appetizers were followed by simple house salads: iceberg lettuce with thinly sliced tomatoes dressed with oil and vinegar. The lettuce was very fresh, the dressing light and refreshing. We did seek the waiter’s advice about entrees and ordered the churrasco ($17.95), chicken tamales ($12.50—lunch portion $8.50), and garlic shrimp ($16.25). The tamales, tasty pieces of chicken enrobed in a delicate, lightly seasoned, non-greasy corn meal, were the favorite. The churrasco came in second (flank skirt steak covered by a chimichurri sauce). Although the flank steak was slightly chewy, it was not tough, and was covered by a sauce that had a slight, very pleasant bite. Madame X describes the dish as tasting zesty and deliciously exotic. The entrees were served with black beans in individual bowls, pieces of malanga that seemed to have been fried in very fresh oil, and, depending on the entrée, delicious fried sweet plantains, boiled butternut squash, or boiled or fried yucca. The tamales came with yellow rice, and the other entrees with fluffy white rice. Portions were ample without being ridiculously large. The only things that made it into the to-go box were leftover black beans and rice.

Two desserts were available, both made in-house by the owner/chefs. Madame X greatly favored the tres leches cake ($5.50), and Sandeman was partial to the flan ($4.50). Jester pronounced the tres leches cake, which was of exquisite texture, the best tres leches ever, but being a flan aficionado, could not pick a favorite between the two desserts. We all agreed that next time we’d ask that the whipped topping, which did a disservice to the high quality of the desserts, be left off. All of the food was attractively presented in very colorful plates, although we would have preferred cloth napkins and a salad fork. One charming aspect of our table was a small tiki-type candleholder that was also a recirculating fountain. Our waiter very kindly lit the candle and got the fountain going for our amusement. One of Jester’s restaurant pet peeves is a nasty restroom—Rumba café passed that test with flying colors. The restrooms were very clean and had nice soap and air freshener. The location is a bit out of the way, and the shopping center does not have a lot of parking but Rumba does have a drive-through window in case you want to call in an order. Even though the owner, who came out to talk to us after the meal, said business has been good so far, we were the only customers in the restaurant at the time so we certainly recommend that you give Rumba Café a try. The food, service, and ambiance are great and we intend to go back and try some other things on the menu, including the Cuban sandwich. We think you’ll find Rumba Café a good value.
Rumba Cafe:
1512 Ambassador Caffery, Lafayette
Hours: Monday through Saturday 11:00 AM to 9:30 PM
(337) 988-5208

On to the movie....
Sherlock Holmes á la Guy Ritchie.
Most reviews of this movie have compared it to the massive library of past movie versions of the Conan Doyle character, but the Three Amigos say forget every other Sherlock Holmes movie or TV show you may have seen. (Of course, that advice is easy for us to advocate, as neither Madame X nor Sandeman have ever seen any other Sherlock Holmes movies but Jester is a true fan of the excellent PBS Sherlock Holmes series and considers Jeremy Brett’s Sherlock in that series to be unparalleled. Jester is also a fan of the Guy Ritchie movies Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels; Snatch; and RocknRolla, and thinks Robert Downey Jr. is capable of pulling off any role he undertakes, so therefore was willing to give these guys the benefit of the doubt... and they did not disappoint). Sherlock Holmes, as portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. is ripped, scruffy, needy, and uses his intellect as much to defeat an opponent in hand-to-hand combat as to solve the detective cases put before him. These fight scenes are premeditated in graphic slow motion with Downey’s voice-over, but carried out in lightning-fast fight scenes. As Holmes’s sidekick Dr. John Watson, Jude Law is not only a doctor who served in the military in Britain’s 19th century colonial India, but also a gambler with a bit of a temper. Rachel McAdams plays a charming con artist Irene Adler, whose history with Sherlock was hinted at but never elaborated on, makes him look at her with both fear and a certain longing.

Set in London in the late 1800s, the story involves a charlatan practitioner of black magic, played by Mark Strong, who tries to take over Parliament. Hans Zimmer’s score is a bit Bohemian, and to excellent effect. Sandeman especially liked the music during a scene involving a circus. Jester’s favorite scene in the movie is a boxing match between Sherlock and a big ruffian, which takes place in a warehouse in a wooden boxing ring with an audience screaming for blood, all to the accompaniment of the Dubliners rollicking version of “Rocky Road to Dublin.” Although the song is also played at the end of the movie while the credits role, it is not on the soundtrack, which is a pity. The cinematography adds to the late 19th century London aura, with a dark, saturated look that probably fairly accurately represents a London that was shrouded in smog caused by natural fog and the smoke of coal fires that warmed the homes of the city that already had a population of ca. 5.5 million. Madame X was a bit distressed by some scenes of violence, including one involving a band saw and pig carcasses, and another with a dead rat. The fight scenes were graphic, a few characters died spectacular deaths, and there is one terrific, slow motion, long lasting explosion. Is this version of Sherlock Holmes faithful to the character created by author Conan Doyle? Not being Conan Doyle scholars, we don’t know and couldn’t care less. The movie is fast-paced, coherent, funny in parts, and satisfying in its ending. The Three Amigos all enjoyed the movie, found the characters to be believable and engaging, the storyline interesting and compelling, and we, well, at least Jester, hope for a sequel.

The Three Amigos are comprised of "Madame X, Jester, and Sandeman". They are the new anonymous Daily Meaux food and movie critics.


No comments:

Post a Comment