Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Jiko at the Animal Kingdom Lodge: Top Service & Atmosphere Make the Meal

Disney World
Orlando, Florida

Vacationing at Disney World without kids is an interesting experience. You spend most of your time at the parks dodging strollers and hearing the shrills of laughter or tears from kids because they're so tired but really, really want to see Mickey Mouse. 

That's why I was happy Joe and I decided to skip the park options for dinner one night and made a reservation at Jiko. While Jiko seems to be kid friendly, the space definitely has an older feel. The atmosphere is much more relaxed then the normal Disney energy buzz that is happening in other dining locations.

MY Experience 
Rating: 5 of 5
Jiko gets a true 5 out of 5 for experience. Disney clearly has a prime service model for a reason. They even call their employees cast members because each person has a role to make your experience "magical". Our server Michael definitely helped make the whole experience enjoyable, offering recommendations on wine and food, but only inserting himself when he deemed appropriate. 

While there is only one vegan option on the menu, spending a week at Disney World makes me realize that if you want to request something different you just have to ask.

MY Food
Rating: 5 of 5

Me: I'm so full, but it's so good I can't stop eating.
Joe: That quote better go on the blog.

We decided on the Taste of Africa to start. Honestly, it was wonderful. Michael explained that if we had ordered the dish off the regular menu, a different type of bread would be included for dipping. He included the non-vegan bread for Joe to try, which was definitely appreciated. 

The dish included four different dips, all pungent and tasty in their own manner. The flavors were accented depending on the bread you ate it with, so it was nice to have the ability to change the bread texture and taste per dipping sauce. 

They brought a basket of bread to start when we were first seated and Michael explained which breads I could eat immediately, without hesitation. Above is the flaxseed bread.
Dipping sauces, including masala and green olive hummus.
Bread Basket included multiple breads for dipping including Papadumand and Whole Wheat Lavosh
Me and Joe enjoying dinner.
Because there was only one entree on the Vegan menu I didn't have another option presented to me at the restaurant. That being said, I was looking forward to trying the entree made up of vegetables and coconut basmati rice in a flavorful curry sauce. I knew that would be my option when we made the reservation so I was perfectly content. 

The dish was great and definitely more than enough to eat. Michael even paired a nice white wine to accent the dish and I was thankful, since I'm definitely not a wine expert.

And...Joe got the lamb dish. He liked it. 

I was so full that we didn't get the sorbet on the menu, but I'm sure it's delicious. 

MY Logistics
Rating: 4.8 of 5
Joe and I took a cab to the The Animal Kingdom Lodge from the Caribbean Beach Resort, since Disney World does not offer shuttle buses that transport guests from resort to resort. You can go from resort to park to resort, but since we had a specific reservation we paid the $8 for a cab so we wouldn't be late. Finding the actual restaurant is fairly easy, just follow the signs downstairs to pool level. The restaurant is directly across from Boma, a buffet full of African food choices. 

The meal was on the expensive side, more then I would normally considering paying for an average night out. We considered it a special occasion and I definitely think the whole experience was worth the price. Our meal consisted of bread and butter, Taste of Africa appetizer, Joe's lamb entree, my vegan entree, and two glasses of wine (one each) we paid just over $115 with tip. 

Rating: 4.93 of 5
Like the title states, top service and atmosphere make this place shine. The food was great and easy to enjoy in a haven like location in the middle of Disney World. I think I liked it so much because it was out of the ordinary regarding meals that I could create on my own AND the offering was much different than any food or dining experience you would receive at the parks. Who wouldn't want to eat a vegan curry dish with white wine while watching a small pond of water trickle past? Relaxing...

I really enjoyed myself.


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