by Kristin Casagrand
Last night for dinner, I had the pleasure of getting a small taste of Disney at home in the northeast. Rainforest Cafe was an escape away from the real world for an hour and made me feel like I was in Disney World for the night. For some reason, Rainforest Cafe seems to have a bad reputation with people, but I think it is a fun themed place for families. The only downside I would point out is that it can be an expensive dinner outing for the food provided.
The outside of any Rainforest Cafe is adorned with animals, waterfalls, and plant life in a safari theme.
Upon arriving at the restaurant and waiting for your table, your family’s name is called saying “your adventure is about to begin.” Word of advice: make reservations before hand if you can because Rainforest Cafes tend to be very popular. For instance, last night the wait for a party of two was two hours without a reservation. However, some people don’t know that the bar area (which is also themed and very cool) has “first come, first serve” seating at booths and tables. The bar stools are designed to look like the bottom and legs of jungle animals, so they are worth checking out.
If you are seated in the main dining area, you walk under an arch of huge, real aquarium tanks with a canopy of vines draped above you. Trees, animals, waterfalls and rain effects are scattered throughout. Every 15 minutes or so a “thunderstorm” rolls in and rain falls around the outskirts of the restraint, light flashes, and the animals come to life. Warning, this can be kind of scary for little ones if you have any in your party. The restaurant actually makes you feel like you are in the middle of the rainforest with small touches such as this storm effect.
The menu includes standard grill items, but with a twist. Many of the meals comes with exotic seasoning or dipping sauces. Items range from burgers to sandwiches to pasta and pizza or seafood. I got a BBQ bacon cheeseburger and my boyfriend got a coconut shrimp entree. If you aren’t starving, I recommend sharing a meal because the portion sizes are huge. I would say the food is pretty good, but the theming of the restaurant makes the experience. Rainforest Cafe also has a wide assortment of alcoholic and non alcoholic specialty drinks to choose from. Some of them even come in a souvenir glass that you get to keep! I ordered a “Margarilla” and got to keep my hurricane Rainforest Cafe glass that has the location printed on it as well. Though we were too full for dessert, the restaurant has some exciting desserts including the Sparkling Volcano which is a mountain of brownies with ice cream.
Rainforest Cafe has two locations in Disney World (Animal Kingdom and Downtown Disney) and one location in Disneyland (Downtown Disney).
To mix things up a little and for a fun adult treat, I thought I would provide the recipe to a Rainforest Cafe drink to try at home.
1/2 cup of ice
1 1/2 oz tequila (Jose Cuervo gold)
1/2 oz triple sec or Cointreau
dash of lime juice
scoop of orange sherbert
orange slice and lime wedge for garnish
I would also like to share the recipe for a popular pasta dish, Rasta pasta. Recipe brought to you by http://www.m.magicalrecipes.net/recipes/rainforest-cafe/rasta-pasta-recipe.aspx
8 ozs bow-tie pasta
2 cloves garlic
2 tsps olive oil
1 cup spinach (chopped fresh)
1 cup broccoli floret
1 red pepper (medium, roasted, you can purchase roasted peppers in jars at your grocers)
1 cup chicken (grilled, sliced into 1/2 inch wide strips)
1 cup alfredo sauce (prepared) ? Tasty tip
1/8 cup pesto (basil)
1 tsp italian seasoning
2 tsps parmesan cheese (shredded)
Cook pasta according to package directions.
Drain well and set aside.
In a 10″ saute pan, saute garlic in oil.
Add spinach, broccoli, red pepper and grilled chicken.
Toss to combine.
Stir in Alfredo and pesto sauces.
Simmer for 5 minutes.
Reheat pasta if necessary.
Pour pasta into bowl and top with vegetable/sauce mixture.
Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and Parmesan cheese.
Kristin Casagrand is a student currently studying physical therapy at Bellarmine University. Born and raised in Pennsylvania, Kristin has taken many a family vacations as a child driving 24 hrs, cramped in the back of the car and fighting with her sister to get to Disney (definitely worth it though). She looks forward to sharing “A taste of Disney” with everyone each week.