What is T-Rex? Part Dinosaur, Part Cotton-tini, Part Ice Cave.
Let me explain: if you’re a fan of Rainforest Cafe and other themed restaurants, you’ll love T-Rex. It takes themeing to the max — meteor showers, ice-bound wooly mammoths, a moving octopus bar — it’s all there. And it is what you make it. If you’re expecting gourmet food and bend-over-backwards service, you’re in the wrong place. If you’re expecting a fun, entertaining meal with decent grub and lots to look at — Welcome to T-Rex!
Located in Disney World’s Downtown Disney, T-Rex is a prehistoric carnival of themeing. Each room has a different focus: an ice cave, complete with shifting colors and an embedded T-Rex skeleton; and undersea room with giant jellyfish lampshades and a moving octopus presiding over the bar; a meteor shower room, where you’d better watch out every 10 minutes or so; a fern forest with giant wasps and a triceratops so big you can seat three parties in his…midsection…? And it goes on from there!
After first being seated in the Ice Cave, I realized that the wacky blue and red colors of the room would no doubt make the food look unappetizing, both for me and for any pictures I was going to take. So I asked if we could be moved to a spot with more normal lighting and we ended up in the Meteor Shower room. Very cool at first, but after the fifth meteor shower, we were ready to take our leave Maybe that’s how they turn the tables faster…?
The menu here is massive, so be ready to read when you get there. You’ll soon get used to the themed food names and eventually start to ignore the “mammoth,” “paleozoic,” “mega,” “giganto” adjectives preceding each entree’s description. (I never did understand what was supposed to be “mesozoic” about mahi mahi… .) You’ll have a wide selection of dishes that you’ll find on just about every other American family chain restaurant these days — mozzarella sticks, burgers, steaks, sandwiches, ribs, etc.
T-Rex even has a wide variety of dino-themed alcoholic drinks, including beers, wines, and mixed drinks. One of these has garnered quite a name for itself in the Disney foodie community — the Cotton-tini. There are three types of cotton-tini: Candy Apple, Cosmo-Paleo, and Tropical — and the drink actually comes with cotton candy nestled inside…
We skipped the spirits this time, however, and put our order in for some Megalosaurus Mozzarella (fried mozzarella) and Dexter’s Dual Dip (tri-colored corn chips with queso for dipping). The Dexter’s Dual dip was supposed to come with Shrimp-Artichoke dip, but since I’m a queso fiend, we ordered two of those instead.
The mozzarella was decent — the cheese was flavorful and the sauce wasn’t too sweet. I liked the two different presentations of the mozzarella.
The Dexter’s Dual Dip was unimpressive. The chips tasted stale and the cheese tasted like second-rate, straight-from-the-tin-can “nacho cheese.” Coming from Texas, we were disappointed and ended up leaving a lot of the queso untouched. (By the way, I didn’t become a queso snob until I moved to Texas a while back; chances are this queso would have been completely acceptable had I not been so spoiled by “the real thing” in so many great Tex-Mex joints around here.)
We split a full rack of ribs (called the Mega Mes-o-Bones) for our entree. These were interesting, and probably the best part of the meal. While a bit overdone, they still tasted fine and were enjoyable. The fries — waffle fries — were good. They tasted like mass-produced fries, but, when I’m reviewing, waffle fries are always a good thing.
For dessert, we couldn’t help ourselves. We dove into the Meteor Bites — donut holes with caramel and chocolate sauce for dipping, and the Ice Age Indulgence — layers of ice cream sandwiches, fudge sauce, whipped topping, and heath bars.
The meteor bites were tasty; they were cakey as opposed to light and airy. They reminded me of Dunkin’ Donuts, for those of you who have that chain nearby.
But the Ice Age Indulgence was pretty poor. It tasted like old ice cream that’s been sitting in the freezer a bit too long. I have no doubt that this dessert is delicious when it’s fresh, but this definitely tasted “left-over.”
I’m glad I visited T-Rex once, but I’m in no hurry to go back. While the themeing is outstanding, the service was a let-down (very slow) and the food wasn’t anything to write home about. In fact, it was probably worse than what I usually get at my local Applebees or TGIFriday’s.
And don’t be fooled by the kid-friendly decor — this place isn’t cheap. It’ll still cost you $30 for a filet and $26 for a full rack of ribs. Sandwiches will set you back $12-15 a piece. If the themeing is worth it to you, then it might be worth a visit. But, in my opinion, neither the food quality nor the service is good enough to justify those prices. I’d rather take my family to Whispering Canyon Cafe or 50′s Prime Time Cafe for that kind of money. But, as I said, the themeing is something special and might be worth paying for.
Now I know T-Rex has plenty of fans, and I’m eager to hear from you! What dishes do you recommend? What were your positive and negative experiences with this dining spot? Looking forward to your comments!