[Source: Emily Gersema, The Arizona Republic]
A downtown Jamaican restaurant is preparing for the grand opening of its rum bar.
The Breadfruit Jamaican Grill at 108 E. Pierce St. recently held a soft opening for Phoenix’s first-known rum bar.
The rum-bar extension of the intimate restaurant has a rustic Caribbean feel, featuring tables made from supply crates turned upside down, homemade bar stools and more than 60 rums. Co-owner Dwayne Allen says it reminds him of his home in Jamaica, where rum bars remain a community gathering place. Allen and co-owner Danielle Leoni still have about 40 rums on order but believe they’ll receive them by their 5 p.m. grand opening on Jan. 23.
Allen and Leoni opened the restaurant more than a year ago. It was an opportunity for Allen to introduce Phoenix diners to Caribbean dishes such as Jamaican grilled, jerk-style prawns, and curried chicken with dumplings, and desserts such as sweet-potato pudding and a parfait made with Madagascar vanilla ice cream.
Allen says most bars in his native Jamaica are known as rum bars because years ago, that was the only liquor available on the island. He says the rum bars tend to look rustic and weathered, which is why he and Leoni adopted a similar look for their bar. They transformed century-old barn doors salvaged from a Midwestern farm into shelves and created beer-bottle pendulum lights.
This drink is made from sugar-cane byproducts, such as the juice or molasses. Historians believe that the first rums were developed in India. The first Caribbean rums were made by slaves in the 17th century, and then British colonists began selling it. Allen says the flavors for each rum vary according to whether juice or molasses is used, and how it is processed.
This is the number of imported rums that Leoni and Allen have chosen to offer at their bar. They chose it because it is a multiple of three – symbolic of fundamental principles in Daoist philosophy. The couple have had to hunt for importers to bring the unique brands to Arizona. Their menu features rums primarily from Central and South America.
Just because you’re on a budget doesn’t mean you have to eat bad food.
Republic/azcentral.com restaurant critic Howard Seftel recommends these five places for Arizona State University students taking classes or living at the downtown campus.
Matt’s Big Breakfast
You can’t think deep college thoughts on an empty stomach. Matt’s helps you start the day right, with everything from cage-free eggs and pancakes with real maple syrup to the best bacon, sausages and off-thebone ham you may ever eat. Just make sure you have plenty of time or go at off times. There’s usually a line out front.
Details: 801 N. First St., Phoenix, 602-254-1074, mattsbigbreakfast.com.
Need an island getaway? You can almost feel the tropical breezes at this cute Jamaican spot. Look for homeland specialties like plantain avocado spring rolls, tilapia empanadas, curried chicken and dumplings, jerk chicken and sweet potato pudding.
Details: 108 E. Pierce St., Phoenix. 602-267-1266, thebreadfruit.com.
The exotic scents and flavors of Thailand make it easy to take your mind off the student grind. And somehow it’s easier to pick up the books after a refreshing break for papaya salad, Thai barbecue chicken, pork panang curry and pad Thai.
Details: 20 W. Adams St., Phoenix, 602-252-3873, thaielephantaz.com.
The menu is small at this shiny new Mexican restaurant, but everything on it is first rate. It starts with the tortillas, made from scratch on the premises. It continues with green chile pork, shredded beef tacos, red chile chilaquiles and oregano-lime rotisserie chicken.
Details: 825 N. First St., Phoenix, 602-254-4400.
The Roosevelt Tavern
You’ve taken the test. You’ve turned in the paper. Now it’s time to unwind at this cheerful place. Along with craft beers and boutique wines, you’ll find comfy fare like campfire franks and beans, deviled eggs and the wonderful tomato soup/grilled cheese combo.
Details: 816 N. Third St., Phoenix. 602-254-2561.