I stopped by to look at the menu and space at Miel, the Provençale restaurant at this new hotel on the Boston waterfront. Miel's menu looks pretty interesting, though the space is very dull, like a breakfast room in a mid-level business traveler's hotel. Yet another wine list where 90% of the bottles start at $50 or higher: crazy.
The real reason for the post is that Miel wasn't yet open, so we sat down for a cocktail at Rumba, the adjacent rum-themed bar. The short version: really bad vibes. This is easily the ugliest, most mismatched assortment of dissonant design ideas since Strega opened in the North End. It's so hideous that I found it uncomfortable to linger there. Two bored-looking bartenders ignored us for a good ten minutes, at which point I helped myself to a cocktail menu another patron had left behind. They took the hint, finally coming over to take a drink order. This turned out not to be such a good thing.
The cocktail menu features a Papa Hemingway Daiquiri, which I figured would be an exemplary drink in a rum-centric bar. Instead of a bracing cocktail of rum and fresh lime and grapefruit juices with a hint of Maraschino, we got something syrupy and oversweetened with too much Maraschino and probably simple syrup. And it was garnished with a huge, ungainly slice of ruby grapefruit topped with mint, something better suited to a Mai Tai in a Tiki mug than an elegant cocktail glass. Terrible, and $12.
(This place also features a $275 "deluxe" version of a Champagne cocktail made with vintage bubbly, some Napoleon-level Cognac, and a sprinkling of 23K gold flakes. This would be an eye-roller in an attractive bar with great service; here, it's a sick joke.)
We retreated to the bar at No. 9, a place that justifies its high cocktail prices with serious artisanry underpinned by a scholarly immersion in cocktail history. Oh, and great service. That washed Rumba's stench of artlessness and incompetence from our nostrils.
I'll still give Miel a shot at some point, having had a cocktail elsewhere first.