Follow me long enough and you will find that the real reason I run and vacation at Walt Disney World is for the food.
Most days, my inner foodie is locked away. Although I live in an area where we have more dining locations per capita than any city in the United States it is hard to unleash that adventurous foodie side of me with a Steak House on each corner, don’t get me wrong…I am “Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner” kind of girl. Between Disney trips, you will find me pouring over menus, stalking trip reports and following several Facebook groups and blogs dedicated to Disney Food in search of the next tasty morsel I must try. My Disney Food list often dictates my daily park schedule as I always have my dining list written before I have a trip, I am just that serious about Disney Food.
One of my favorite things to do each trip is to splurge on 1 special meal each trip, a where I dress up and ignore the prices on the menu. My splurge meal has to meet a few criteria:
- Great Atmosphere
- Interesting Food choices that push me out of my box
- Amazing Dessert
Well that certainly narrows it down, almost every table service at Walt Disney World meets this criteria, for this trip I added that it had to be someplace new.
Tiffins in Animal Kingdom caught my attention, although you could not tell that from how many times I made this ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) and cancelled it in the 6 months leading up to my Heigh Ho/Bucket List trip as I just could not get timing worked out in my overall schedule. Finally, it came down to being able to get a FastPass for the Rivers of Light performance with my meal, that WOW factor I suppose.
The first thing about Tiffins that caught my attention in my “Disney research” (aka blog lurking) was that Tiffins was more than just a signature restaurant, it’s a gallery of art and mementos gathered by imagineers while planning Animal Kingdom. If you love Animal Kingdom (minus Pandora), like I do this is the place to truly appreciate the park and look behind the scenes.
What is a Tiffin? It is a fancy name (proper English-Indian) for not only a midday meal but the vessel used for the meal.
I was running a little late to my reservation, thanks to the filming of the Disney Parks Christmas program or should I say I was a little distracted by who was filming…
It was really hard to pull myself away from Darrius smooth voice, (I know he is Hootie, but I am a country fan) but I knew the meal I had visioned in my head for 6 months was about to become a tasty reality.
My check in went pretty quickly, since I was dining at the beginning of dinner service. It was not long before I being lead to my table…
Tiffins is divided into 3 galleries or dining rooms. The Grand Gallery is the largest where the animals (Tree of Life) is celebrated. The Safari Gallery celebrates Eastern and Southern Africa and the Trek Gallery, Asia. Tiffins also has a lounge, the Nomad Lounge which can be accessed through its own separate entrance or from the check in station inside. The Nomad Lounge is an ode to the “What wisdom would you give to other travelers?” and it on the top of my Disney food list for my next trip because it has a different menu with lots of interesting offerings!
I was hoping to be seated in the Grand Gallery, but instead I ended up in the Trek Gallery which actually represents my favorite place in Animal Kingdom, Asia. The Disney table gurus knew exactly where to I needed to be seated. The first thing that struck me was how bright the room was, thanks to a huge wall of windows looking into the “wilds” of Animal Kingdom. You would never know that you were in a theme park when looking out these windows. The sunlight did dampen my celebration somewhat, but then I would have missed the beautiful view.
Looking around, I knew I was seated perfectly to enjoy all of the artwork and mementos. Hanging next to me was probably the items that I take the most pictures of in Animal Kingdom (yes, even more than the Tree of Life), the Tibetan Prayer Flags. They seemed to flutter above the corner booth. And then there is this guy…
And you know how much I love going on an expedition in hopes to encounter him! One thing I will do next trip, is to get up and look at each of the displays more closely than afar.
If I was feeling uncomfortable about dining by myself, my Cast Member server Julie made sure that those feelings evaporated from the moment I sat down. In fact, she helped me make my first decision, what cocktail should I have…
Hightower Rocks (Casa Dragones Blanco Tequila, Watermelon, Sweet-n-Sour, Lime Juice). What a refreshing and light drink. Julie also brought out the complimentary Tiffins bread service. The bread consists of Pomegranate Focaccia bread with a mix of Pomegranate, Molasses, and Olive Oil on the side. Oh my, I had forgotten what high quality olive oil tasted like which gave the dipping sauce a more savory flavor despite the molasses. And the bread was nice, too! I was proud of myself, as I actually paced myself with the bread plate.
For my appetizer course, the olive oil made made want more so of course I decided upon the Heirloom Tomatos and House-Made Mozzarella (Toy Box Tomatoes, Smoked Olive Oil, Fig Vincotto). My only complaint, I wanted more! Such a beautiful dish, not sure what the little watermelon looking things are called but they were fun!
When it was time to decide on the main course, I already knew what I was ordering months ago (although secretly I was having an inner battle with myself over the duck, next time)…
Wagyu Striplion and House-Smoked Brisket (I told you I was a “Beef, It’s What’s for Dinner” girl) which included rainbow carrots, Peruivan Purple Potatoes, Sherry Shallot buter, and a guava demiglaze. This was my opportunity to sample Wagyu beef, and I seized it. I was a little disappointed the appearance when this dish was served, I was expecting a lot more color. What the plate lacked in color, the beef made up for it in flavor. I had died and gone to steak paradise…tender, flavorful and most importantly cooked to MY perfection. I savored each bite, thankful that the bread plate in front of me and my choices up until that point allowed me to really enjoy the meat!
Now to my favorite part of any meal…dessert! Again, I knew what I was ordering 6 months ago because most of the time I base my Disney ADRs (Advanced Dining Reservations) on the dessert. I simply had to try the…
South American Chocolate Ganache with a beautiful glass of Zuccardi Malamado Malbec Port. I know this looks like a very tinny serving, but don’t let the size fool you, like it did me. This was the very best dark, rich Chocolate that I have ever had. This is meant to be slowly savored! And accompanied with the glass of wine with it was the BEST DESSERT, sorry Narcoossee’s Almond Crusted Cheesecake, you have been bumped to #2.
At the end of the meal, Julie brought me an unexpected surprise, and not it was not the check, along with my River of Light Fast Pass.
Remember how I said that I like to celebrate by dressing up and not looking at the prices. Well, I did not get to dress up (thank you again Southwest Airlines) but I did not look at the prices until the check came.
Please do not freak out. Yes, I know this is for 1 person, but remember this was my splurge meal, my treat to myself and I don’t look at prices. Also, it came with a FastPass and if you priced each component of my 3 course meal you would find I saved a lot going with the fixed menu. Not all Disney restaurants are this pricey, this is a signature restaurant (fine dining in Disney terms). And don’t worry, I left a very nice tip! Trust me, the portion sizes look small and they are but I can honestly tell you I left full and not uncomfortable.
If you are a fan of Animal Kingdom, are more adventurous eater, and want a place that takes you away from the theme park craziness, I recommend Tiffins! My dining experience was a masterpiece that exceeded my expectations both in atmosphere and food.
How about exploring your inner foodie side at Walt Disney World. I have lots of great suggestions for your next meal, and it does even have to break the bank. Although, it is fun to splurge! Book your Disney vacation with me, and I will make sure that your taste buds are happy!