Sat right in the heart of the city and neighbours with London’s famous Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum, the Rainforest Café is in an exciting location. It’s just a stone’s throw from Piccadilly Tube Station and roughly a 15-minute walk from the River Thames which makes it really easy to get to. It’s renowned for being one of the most, if not, the most child-friendly restaurant in London. I recently visited with family to celebrate my nephew’s 5th birthday!
The restaurant itself is an amazing simulated rainforest jungle and there are all sorts of fantastic animatronic jungle animals dotted about the place which come ‘alive’ and excite the children – gorillas, giant frogs, snakes and butterflies to name a few. My nephew thought the crocodile sitting by the entrance was real – you should have seen his face! The walls and ceilings are covered in a dense canopy of greenery, tree trunks and swirly branches and there is trickling water features right by the bar as you walk down into the main restaurant area. The continual use of lighting and sound effects further adds to the restaurant’s ambience; and there’s a few exciting surprises to experience during your visit which I won’t give away. The Rainforest Café is honestly an amazing and very unique family-orientated restaurant and its creativity means children are continually stimulated and entertained whilst eating their food – bonus for adults!
We visited on a Saturday and as you can imagine, it was really busy. You can book a table in advance but I advise you do this a couple of weeks ahead of when you want to go to ensure you get a table. Alternatively, you can turn up on the day as they reserve part of the restaurant for people who wish to do this. However, it’s advised you arrive at the time it opens to ensure you get seated without waiting too long as it gets very busy, very quickly. The latter option would suit those who are just wanting lunch.
The staff are really friendly and very attentive. Shout out to Crissa, our waitress who was particularly lovely and personable! We ordered our food just after 12 o’clock and waited about 30 minutes for it to arrive. I imagine as the day goes on, the wait would become a bit longer. However anytime waiting in this restaurant, whether it be for a table or food, flies by because there’s so much to look at and take in.
The menu is typical American cuisine – think burgers, char-grilled meats, ribs, fries, salads and sweet desserts. There’s not a huge amount of vegetarian options and the price of food is expensive for what’s on offer which was a bit disappointing. However, the creativity and Rainforest theme flows through the menu with the impressive dish names such as ‘Rasta Pasta’ and ‘Wiki Wiki Stir Fry’. We wanted to try the ‘Banyan Tree Beanburger’ but we were slightly skeptical of ordering a veggie burger that cost £17.80! Instead, three of us who were Vegetarian decided to order a few plates to share. We got the beanburger, the starter plate of Nachos (£9.75), the Forest Leaf Wrap starter (£9.70), and a side of onion rings (£3.90). All of which was more than enough or 3 people. The main dishes were large portions and I was pleasantly surprised with the beanburger! The jalapeños and delicious kick of Cajun spices gave it great flavour. It had quite a meaty texture too and the black beans gave it a dark colour – we actually thought a beef burger had come by accident at first! Even though it was probably one of the best beanburgers I’ve tasted so far, I still don’t think it was worth £17.80.
Again, the Forest Leaf Wrap didn’t disappoint. The combination of crunchy red cabbage slaw with crispy battered goats cheese and rocket was lovely. It came with mini sides of guacamole and salsa which were both very nice – the salsa was soft, crunchy and refreshingly aromatic. The onion rings weren’t too greasy and the batter was well done but you couldn’t really taste much of the onion. Again, the Nachos could have been better. The way they were put together with toppings meant the nachos became slightly soggy and stuck together with cheese, so it got a bit messy.
Despite some criticism over the food and pricing, the overall dining experience was great; and that’s really what you’re paying for. It’s a wonderful place to please the imagination of any child because you really do feel like you’re eating in the Rainforest. If you’re planning a family day out in London, The Rainforest Café is a great place to go and you can find out more information on their website below: