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Rainforest Cafe {Sea}


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Last night at the suggestion of my wife's nieces, who are in town visiting, we all met for dinner at the Rainforest Cafe in Southcenter Mall.

Upon entering the RFC -- this is the Rainforest Cafe moniker/logo emblazioned on all the merchandise in their Retail Village -- I felt magically transformed to another place deep in the Afri-Mayan jungle. Rain dripped from the ceiling into misty pools of water and a thick canopy of synthetic leaves and branches shielded me from seeing the electrical conduit, ductwork, and rainwater piping that surely must span over all rainforests.

Our Safari Guide, smartly dressed in sturdy pants and a crisp khaki shirt, led us back to to our table. Before we could make our way through the jungle however, the Tour Guide reminded us that if nature called the restroom was conveniently located under the rainbow.

We were seated deep in the jungle and told our Safari Guide that we were still waiting for one more member of our party. While we waited, she made sure that we were well attended to by coming back every 2-3 minutes to make sure we didn't want to order a drink or an appetizer.

While we were waiting, and right when I was starting to feel safe in this jungle atmosphere, two life size gorillas, a smaller monkee, and a gigantic dragonfly all lept to life in a cacophony of digitized sounds and robotic movements. I have no doubt that the creators of the Rainforest Cafe spent thousands of dollars researching the effect of the fight or flight mechanism and adrenaline on human hunger, because there is no other explicable reason for this truly terrifying element.

Since the Rainforest Cafe is a restaurant, I guess I'll mention the food as well. I had the Beef Bamma BBQ Wrap with a side of cole slaw and a small tub of mango dipping sauce. Despite the promises in the menu, I can't say I went "ape" for this wrap. A friend had the large seafood platter. I cannot comment of the flavor of this dish, the crispy golden brown batter that coated everything prevented me from identifying anything that may have come from the sea. Most of the other food was equally un-interesting save the names of the items which included Chimi-Cha-Chas and Crispy Caribe Tenders, whatever these are.

I'm not sure when I'll be back in Southcenter Mall, but the next time I'm there you can bet I'll stop in at the Magic Mushroom Bar for a Cheetah Rita in a souvenier glass (also available separately in the retail villiage).

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My one and only experience - September 11, 2001. Delayed flight (turned into 5 day delay) out of Orange County, CA. Disneyland closed, but the bar at RC was open (South Coast Plaza). The food was forgetable, the drinks, stiff.

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genius! this made me laugh heartily. my 6 year old niece lily has the rainforest cafe as a favorite pick so i am unfortunately quite familiar with the place.

no offense to you parents out there, as i know kids gotta eat, too, but i can think of nothing worse than a "meal" at the RFC. i'm not sure if it's the volume of shrieking children, the loud "storm" that moves through the joint practically every two minutes, or the shameless gift shop that drives me to the edge but i always have the urge to make my way to the "bar" and down multiple shots of tequila when in the RFC.

responsible aunt hood always stops me. that, and the hope that springs eternal from the fact that miss lily's second favorite choice is le pichet. only if we can eat outside, of course.

lemony

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Next time your kids drag you there, bring a book called Entangeled Edens by Candace Slater. It examines American ideas and myths about the rainforest as compared to the reality of the place. I sort of want to go to the Rainforest Cafe just to see how corporate America has portrayed the rainforest this time.*

*Disclaimer: I'm an environmental historian so I find this stuff fascinating. Others may not.

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I had a blast the first time I've been to one of those -- in Orlando at Disney World's Pleasure Island (seven years ago). The Rasta Pasta wasn't awful but the giant salt water aquariam that we were seated next to was great.

edit: spelling difficulties today....

Edited by beans (log)
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Damn that was funny, Hal.

"Save Donald Duck and Fuck Wolfgang Puck."

-- State Senator John Burton, joking about

how the bill to ban production of foie gras in

California was summarized for signing by

Gov. Schwarzenegger.

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Ha! Halland! That was the best review I've read in months. Nice.

Every time I've walked into a Rainforest Cafe, I've felt an overwhelming sense - a desperate urge -- to run away really fast. On my two visits, I wound up just drinking the booze, which ain't half bad if you don't mind getting ripped off ($12 for RUM AND JUICE??!!!!)

My first visit was a kid party and the other was a novelty visit in Vegas -- both of which required heavy drinking.

I can't even remember if I ate there.

A palate, like a mind, works better with exposure and education and is a product of its environment.

-- Frank Bruni

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