Review: Rainforest Cafe: Animal Kingdom
Last night my husband, daughter and I went to Rainforest Café at Animal Kingdom. We had a 6:30 dinner reservation. When we arrived there were a few other parties ahead of us and they were all seated while we waited. A few minutes later the hostess checked to see what was taking so long and discovered that we were about to get our table. We were seated at 6:46.
If you have never been to a Rainforest Café before you will be immediately drawn in by the décor. They take the theme seriously with vines hanging from the ceiling, giant fish tanks and fake animals everywhere. The animatronic animals spring to life every 20 minutes. There are also “thunderstorms” every now and then when the lights flash and thunder sounds. Guests are encouraged to walk around the restaurant and take as many pictures as they would like.
We did not wait long until our “safari guide”, Kaitlyn, came by the table. She explained a couple of items that were not on the regular menu and also went over some of the drink choices. She asked us if we had any questions and we did. My daughter and I are ovo-lacto vegetarians so we wanted to know what on the menu could be adapted. She told us the things that she was sure were 100% vegetarian and said that others she was unsure of. She gave us a few minutes to look things over.
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After a little while she returned. I asked her about the sauce for the pastas because some places will use beef or chicken stock. She said that she would check for us. Moments later she returned from the kitchen and told us that the Planet Earth Pasta (which is normally made with sausage) is the only one that is not made with meat stock. I appreciated her finding out for us immediately. My daughter and I, who like to share dishes, decided upon the pasta dish that she had mentioned and the Rainforest Burger, but with the meatless Natural Burger as a substitute. We ordered the fries instead of the chips. My husband decided upon the Tribal Salmon.
Before the meals were brought to the table Kaitlyn brought by a couple of extra plates. We had mentioned that we would be splitting and sharing two of the entrees and she wanted to make it easier for us. When the food was brought out we were warned that the plates might be hot. The portions were good sized. The penne pasta in the Plant Earth Pasta was cooked just right and the marina sauce was thinker than in most places. It was full of flavor but not spicy. The best part of the dish was the cheese. The menu promised that it was topped with mozzarella and there were three huge pieces of it on the top. It was served with a large chunk of bread.
The Natural Burger for the Rainforest Burger was one of the best veggie burgers that I have ever had. The menu claims that they are made of “garbanzo beans, vegetables, sesame seeds, and assorted spices”. The combination is perfect. We chose American cheese and it also included a fried onion ring, lettuce, tomato and pickles. The fries were good but nothing special. It was incredibly filling.
My husband’s salmon was cooked on a cedar plank and was moist and flavorful. He enjoyed it immensely. It came with a side of Caribbean rice, which he also enjoyed. There were also roasted vegetables; they included summer squash, zucchini, carrots and onions. He ate all but the onions.
When we were finished Kaitlyn asked if we wanted dessert. We said no, we were full. We did see the dessert that the place is famous for being served several times throughout our visit. The Sparkling Volcano is a pyramid of chocolate brownie cake, served with ice cream, whipped cream and toppings. They say it’s for two but we saw several families order one and split it. I have even heard of people ordering only the Sparkling Volcano and nothing else for their meal.
F-Food- Excellent. All three of us enjoyed out meals and would order what we had again.
A-Atmosphere- Fun. They stick with the rainforest theme with the décor and they also want you to have a good time. It is loud in the restaurant, we were even warned of that when we were walking to our table. There was an interesting mix of music playing in the background, everything from reggae to Christmas songs to so-called elevator music.
S-Service- Outstanding. Kaitlyn was the best server that we have had in all of Walt Disney World, and we have had some excellent servers. She was willing to go above and beyond to make our meal a good one. She was also one of the friendliest people that I have met in a long time.
T-Tips- Even though the restaurant is at Animal Kingdom you do not have to enter the park to eat there. There is an entrance within the park but the main one is on your left after you have gone through bag check. Make sure you bring a camera, you’re going to want to take pictures.