Jambo! Recently, we were at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and had a hankering for a nice and unique lunch. Having not been to Tiffins in a while, it seemed like the perfect choice.
Tiffins is the only signature restaurant in the park and features African and Indian inspired dishes. In the past, we have really enjoyed our meals here, but they have updated the menu since our previous reviewed visit and we were excited to check out both some old favorites and new choices.
Entering Tiffins is like entering an incredible art gallery.
Beautiful sculptures, paintings, and mixed media pieces decorate the walls. A highlight in the main room of the restaurant, the Grand Gallery, are these gorgeous columns.
These used to live in Camp Minnie-Mickey, before that area of the park closed to become home to Pandora. Luckily, these columns were spared, stripped down, and moved to Tiffins. They were carved in Bali and are incredibly detailed.
A favorite piece in Tiffins is the lantern wall, which was inspired by Rivers of Light. Can you tell?
We were pretty excited about digging into and sharing our lunch with you, so we’re going to keep the atmosphere tour short to get to the eats!
The detail and luxury of Tiffins is present from the moment you enter the restaurant, and the fancy-schmancy continues with your menu. These leather-bound menus are fashioned to remind you of an adventure journal!
One thing Tiffins (and its sister lounge, The Nomad Lounge) is known for, is the amazing craft cocktails.
We couldn’t resist trying a few on this visit, starting with the Tempting Tigress.
This cocktail is Russell’s Reserve 10 yr Bourbon, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, Tamarind Syrup, and Lime Juice. We really enjoyed it! You can certainly taste the bourbon, but it’s not overwhelming. The Allspice and Tamarind add an exotic twist that is very fitting for the atmosphere. If you are in search of a unique cocktail but don’t like sweet drinks, this is a great choice.
We also tried the Annapurna Zing.
This bright beverage is made with Bombay Sapphire East Gin, Passion Fruit Purée, Mint, Lime Juice, Ginger Beer, and comes topped with a Glowing Lotus Light.
The Annapurna Zing was refreshing and light, thanks to the mint and lime juice. The liquor shines through as well, so if you’re not a gin fan, we recommend skipping this one. But for us (gin and mule fans), this one was a winner as well!
As always, if you don’t want the glowing lotus flower, just ask! The drink can be served without it and a few dollars will be knocked off the bill! 🙂
Now on to the grub! Let’s take a look at the menu.
For our first course, we went with 2 selections — the house specialty as well as our server’s recommendation.
First up, the house specialty: the Charred Octopus. The octopus is marinated for 24 hours and then cooked sous vide before a quick char on a grill. It’s served with Romesco sauce, olive tapenade, chorizo, and a squid ink aïoli.
Check out those tentacles! This has a light (not fishy) flavor and a slight crunch from the char. The Romesco Sauce is nice and bright, and the olive tapenade brings a welcomed acidity.
Overall, adventurous eaters may really enjoy this dish — it’s certainly not something you’d expect to find in a theme park! But for others…well, they might not get past the suckers!!
Next, we tried our server’s recommendation: the Mushroom Soup. Note that the soup selection can often change here, so be sure to ask what flavor they’re serving on your visit!
The soup is made with truffle oil and a wild chanterelle ragoût, which is poured over crispy shiitake mushrooms. WOW…it was DELICIOUS. It was creamy yet light and the shiitake mushrooms add a nice texture and flavor. If you are a mushroom fan, this is a must-eat!! But of course, if you are NOT a mushroom fan…well this actually might convert you. It was THAT good!
In addition to our starters, we also were treated to some of Tiffins’ signature bread.
This complimentary nosh is a Pomegranate Foccacia Bread and comes with an Oil, Molasses, and Pomegranate mixture on the side.
This is unexpected. It’s a nice combination of sweet and savory, with the pomegranate being noticeable but not overpowering. The dipping sauce is also quite good — it’s tangy, and the molasses flavor is very strong. This dip seems to be a love it or hate it item for most guests, so give it a try and see what you think!
Already having had two starters and bread, we were ready for the main course!
First up, the Shrimp and Grits. These were not on the menu during our last visit, and we were excited to see what kind of twist Tiffins could put on a Southern comfort food classic.
The dish consists of Anson Mills Grits, applewood-smoked bacon, heirloom tomatoes, smoked pepper jam, and tail-on shrimp.
The shrimp are large and plentiful, as you can see. It’s spiced really well, but not hot by any means. The bacon really stands out here, with the smokey flavor being predominant in the dish. Speaking of smokey flavors, the jam is the unsung hero of the dish with its great blend of savory and spicy, with just a hint of sweet. The grits themselves were creamy and well cooked. Even though this shares many components of a classic shrimp and grits, Tiffins has certainly put its own exotic twist on it and made it great in its own way. We really enjoyed their take on this comfort food.
Now for something VERY unusual — the Whole-fried Sustainable Fish.
The Whole-fried fish comes with fermented black bean sauce, Thai green papaya slaw, and peanuts. The fish changes with the seasons, so on your visit it could be a totally different variety of fish. For our meal, it was Yellowtail Snapper.
Once you get past the fact that your food is looking at you, this is actually kind of a standard dish. We’ve ordered the whole fish before, and mileage really does vary depending on the fish and the preparation. This time around, it basically just tasted like a light, mild fish with crispy skin. If anything it was bland. Also beware — the bones are still in, with it being whole and all. Don’t prick yourself! The black bean sauce was good (albeit not great), but the real highlights were the peanuts and the papaya slaw. These really took the dish up a notch, and added flavor where it was otherwise lacking.
If you are a fan of seafood and you’re looking for something different and adventurous, then look no further! This is certainly something exciting to try. However, if you aren’t wild about fish, or will not get past the bones and eye sockets, then pass on this one and play it safer with something that isn’t looking back at you!!
The best thing we ate, however, wasn’t the fish or the shrimp and grits — it was this cauliflower enhancement! Our server highly recommended it and we couldn’t resist. The Gobi Manchurian is crispy-fried cauliflower, that’s been tossed in a spicy Manchurian sauce and topped with green onion.
This enhancement (Disney’s word for “thing that’s not included on your Disney Dining Plan and will cost you extra”) was fantastic. The cauliflower was nice and crunchy, and the sauce actually packed some heat — it wasn’t just “Disney hot.” I would absolutely recommend adding this to any entree or ordering it as an appetizer.
There are a few enhancements, or optional sides, on the menu. Keep in mind if you’re using the Disney Dining Plan, these sides aren’t covered by the plan, so you’ll have to pay out of pocket (it was SO worth it for us!).
I’m sure you’re thinking that after we’ve had two appetizers, bread, two entrees, and an enhancement that we would be done eating. Well, guess again!
It’s dessert time! To keep it “simple,” we went with the Tiffins Trio, which comes with the South American Chocolate Ganache, Whipped Cheesecake, and the Guava Mousse.
First up was the South American Chocolate Ganache, which we’ve enjoyed before.
This dessert is small but mighty! The Ganache is rich, creamy, and made of fine dark chocolate. It’s very tasty and chocolate lovers will enjoy it, but any more than the portion provided would be definite choco-holic territory!
Next, the Whipped Cheesecake.
This unconventional cheesecake is served more like a mousse! It’s light and creamy and comes topped with a bit of candied fruit and espresso sponge crumbs to give the illusion and texture of cheesecake. That said, it’s very good — in fact, it was our favorite of the trio.
Finally, the Guava Mousse.
The mousse is served with a touch of dark chocolate on top and a thin crust on the bottom. This was our least favorite of the trio. The guava wasn’t a huge hit in our book, and we found the texture to be something like a mix of jello and thick mousse. But disliking one out of three isn’t bad!
As a finale for the meal, we were each given prints by legendary Imagineer, Joe Rohde. He had a heavy hand in designing the restaurant, taking from his experiences exploring the world when designing the Animal Kingdom park.
The print is changed out from time to time and is a fitting parting gift after experiencing a meal at Tiffins.
Overall, Tiffins is a unique adventure of a meal, with a distinctly high level of service. It is truly an experience well beyond food and it’s certainly not what you’d expect in a theme park. All that said, it’s not for everyone.
If you are an adventurous eater, Tiffins should definitely be on your list. The cocktails are fantastic, and everything from the starters and bread to the entrees and dessert are works of art. It’s also a great place to sit down and enjoy a nice, leisurely meal during a busy theme park day.
However, it is a signature meal, and for some, it won’t be worth the high price tag or two table service credits on the Disney Dining Plan. While the menu has a wide array of options, the pickiest of eaters will likely not get the best bang for their buck here. Additionally, if you’re not one who wants to sit down at a long, fancy meal during your theme park day, it’s best for you to skip Tiffins. Instead, we recommend swinging by the Nomad Lounge for one of the craft cocktails, and perhaps a small plate.
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Have you been to Tiffins? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!