I've been to the Rainforest Cafe in Tyson's Corner Mall in Northern Virginia several times. Each time, I marvel at the decor, the long waits, and how much the restaurant really doesn't appeal to me.
The Rainforest Cafe is one of the most Disneyfied restaurants I've found outside of the Magic Kingdom itself. It's only appropriate that RFC restaurants are also located at Disney World, given their theming.
The restaurant itself is hyper-decorated. Its theming is evident from halfway down the mall by the screeching of the macaws and parrots at the entrance of the restaurant. Decorations include animatronic forest animals such as gorillas which set off with a show of animal noises every 15 or so minutes. Sounds of a lightning storm and rain are also programmed to play at predetermined intervals. A midnight blue dome is present towards the back of the restaurant to simulate the night sky and several large fishtanks and misters are strategically placed about the restaurant.
Food and Prices
For whatever reason, I don't find much that appeals to me on the menu here. It seems that every time I go, I end up settling for the "Caribe Coconut Chicken" which is an appetizer dish, as a meal. Other standard alternatives include Mogambo Shrimp, a shrimp and pasta dish. Paradise Pot Roast, Rumble in the Jungle Turkey Pita and Asian Beef - which is flank steak in a glaze served over rice and rice noodles.
The menu is limited, by my standards. And while the menu items are creatively named, the food itself just doesn't back it up. Calling something "Plant Sandwich", "Mojo Beef", "Jungle Chop" or "Jungle Safari Soup" doesn't go a long way towards making the actual dish interesting at all. The food here is on par with the Silver Diner's new offerings in the area. That wouldn't be a bad thing, the Silver Diner is okay for a late-night joint. The prices at the Rainforest Cafe, however, are much higher than at the Silver Diner.
The host who seats you informs you who your "safari guide" will be. How cute. You get a little passport as you sit down.
Service during all of my visits has been okay. No one has stood out as particularly well-qualified or helpful. Drinks are usually refilled when you flag down your waiter and alert them to your empty glass. Turnaround time on food is decent, but not fast by any means. Waits for meals are usually in the fifteen minute range.
Overall, I just can't recommend this place. The prices are too high and the profits must go to pay off the bills on the animatronics because they sure don't seem to be going into improving the food.
Kids will probably love this place, at least the first time around. I'd be hard pressed to find menu items that are unique that kids will like. The jungle names for average, everyday dishes will be interesting a couple of times, most likely.
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