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Rainforest cafe (London)

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    11 Reviews
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      01.03.2014 21:34
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      Not my most favourite Rainforest Cafe.

      Rainforest Cafe is an Amazon rainforest themed restaurant. There are 32 Rainforest Cafe's worldwide (most of them in the US) but only 2 in Europe and 1 of those is in the UK. I have visited Rainforest Cafe's in Paris and in Florida in recent years. I had great experiences at both so finally decided to try out the London Rainforest Cafe last year.

      The Rainforest Cafe can be found on Shaftesbury Avenue, right next to Piccadilly Circus. It's on a main road and a few doors down from Ripley's Believe It Or Not. The nearest tube station is Piccadilly Circus. There is a big Rainforest Cafe sign at the front of the restaurant as well as a life-size crocodile in the window! You enter and exit the restaurant through the cleverly situated Rainforest Cafe shop which sells all sorts including toys, clothes and homewares. The shop has a large variety (as well as a big talking tree!) but most of it is pretty overpriced. The first thing you will notice is the décor, most notably the leaves and vines (and snakes!) hanging from the ceiling. There are stairs at the back of the shop that lead downstairs to the restaurant.

      I have heard that the Rainforest Cafe gets very busy in London. It's advised that you pre-book a table (you can even do this online), but our trip was a last minute decision and we didn't pre-book. However we decided to dine between lunch time and dinner time (about 4.30pm) so it wasn't too busy at that time. There is a desk at the front of the restaurant as well as a bar situated under some giant mushrooms! We were seated within minutes.

      There's so much to see that when you are seated it might take you a long time to even take a look at the menu! The whole ceiling is covered in leaves, vines, branches and the restaurant features all sorts of animals including parrots, frogs, butterflies, gorillas, elephants, zebras and monkeys! Some of the animals are animatronic which are great fun to watch (notably the gorillas and elephants) - for children and adults! However I do think that some of them may need some updating soon - technology is growing fast and they might run the risk of looking a little outdated in coming years. Every 30 minutes there is a simulated thunderstorm which involves flashing 'lightning', loud 'thunder' sounds and simulated 'rain' (you don't get wet though) which is good fun. We also spotted a real fish tank full of tropical fish and a fountain. There is no background music, just the sounds of the rainforest, which I really like as it makes the experience feel more 'real'.

      All of the Rainforest Cafes have very dim lighting to give the illusion of being in a real rainforest. This Rainforest Cafe was no different. I felt that the London Rainforest Cafe was quite small (maybe not small but certainly a LOT smaller than the other Rainforest Cafe's that I've visited) and that there were a lot of tables crammed inside, so not much space to move around. I found the lack of space and the dim lighting (plus the fact the restaurant is underground) slightly claustrophobic. I also noticed that there was no 'iconic' fish tank arch at the front of the restaurant which was a little disappointing. Whilst I enjoyed the atmosphere, I felt as though it didn't compare to Paris or Florida in the slightest. However those who have never experienced a Rainforest Cafe before will probably feel differently.

      As soon as we had been seated we were all given menus and my daughter was given a childrens menu and crayons. Children are given an activity sheet (you can also purchase an 'activity pack' for a cheeky £3.00 extra), although they aren't likely to get bored as there is so much to see. None of us fancied a starter so we all took a look at the main dishes. The waitress soon came over and took our order. She seemed friendly enough (I felt neutral towards all of the staff we came across - nobody made my day but they were all pleasant enough). Unfortunately we were really disappointed by the menu which seemed really limited, especially for vegetarians. There were only 2 vegetarian main options - salad or noodles, neither of which we really wanted. There were no veggie burgers, pastas or pizzas etc. It was very expensive too, especially paying for something you don't really want! At the other Rainforest Cafe's we had previously visited they seemed to have more options (in which case you don't mind paying such high prices) and at least served veggie burgers! I reluctantly settled for the noodles. We didn't have to wait long for our food and it tasted good, although it wasn't particularly memorable and definitely wasn't worth the money I paid for it. We didn't bother with desert (there is a lovely little crepe place around the corner!).

      On the upside, it looks as though Rainforest Cafe may have finally listened to their customers because they have recently updated their menu and there seems to be a LOT more choice.

      To give you an idea of the current menu...

      Starters include Jungle Safari Soup Of The Day, Lava Nachos, Veggie Wrap, Leaping Lizard Mezze (hummus, tomatoes, olives, mozzarella cheese in balsmatic vinegar served with grilled flat bread), Mojo Bones (pork ribs with BBQ sauce and creamy coleslaw), Rio's Chicken Crunch, Coastal Calamari and Raging Thunder Buffalo Wings. Starters range between £4.95 - £9.95.

      Main meals include Rainforest House Salad, Ceasar Salad, Asian Style Salad, Tagliatelle Verde Carbonara, Volcanic Chilli Con Carne, Quesadilla Mexicana, Rasta Pasta (chicken, pasta, broccoli, red peppers and spinach, tossed with garlic & scallion alfredo sauce, topped with Parmesan cheese), Veggie Bean Burger, Grilled Sea Bass, Veggy Tart, Rainforest Classic Steak Burger, Calypso Chicken Sandwich, Meatball Mambo, Grilled Salmon Supreme, Blackened Salmon Salad, Volcanic Cobb Salad (chicken breast, blue cheese, olives, tomatoes, eggs, bacon, baby gem and rocket salad), Wild Wok Noodles, Major Mojo Bones (rack of cajun spiced pork ribs in BBQ sauce, served with fries and coleslaw), BBQ Chicken, Braised Lamb Shank, Aztec Chicken (chargrilled chicken breast, goat's cheese, herb garlic mash potato with mushroom sauce and French beans), Linguine Prawn Pasta and Primal Steak. Main meals range between £15.30 - £24.30.

      Deserts include Dairy Free Ice Cream, Chocolate Brownie, Belgian Waffle and Ice Cream, Knickerbocker Glory, Iggy's Ice Cream (3 scoops of your choice of ice cream), Banana and Toffee Crepe and Sparkling Volcano (chocolate brownie volcano with vanilla and chocolate ice cream, chocolate and caramel sauce and whipped cream). Deserts range between £6.50 - £13.50. You can also buy a birthday cake for £25.00.

      There is a separate childrens menu which includes a main dish, desert and drink for £12.50. My daughters favourite 'meal' is tomato pasta/spaghetti and they didn't have this on the childrens menu in Paris. However they did have it at London (with chips too) which she was very pleased about and ate it all up! Other mains include Andy Pandy Mash (mix of potatoes, cabbage, roasted red peppers and virgin olive oil), Cha Cha's Chicken Salad, Create Your Own Pizza, Ham and Cheese Pasta, Macaroni Cheese, Maya's Meatballs, Ozzie Burger, Penne Bolognese, Snappy Salmon Fishcakes and Tree Top Tenders (chicken goujons with peas, sweetcorn, carrots and fries). There are 5 different deserts to choose from and drinks include smoothies, sodas or juices. My daughter was pleased with her entire meal, especially her Banana Blast (split banana topped with chocolate and vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, chocolate & butterscotch sauce) which lasted the whole of 5 minutes! The Rainforest Cafe has a mascot called Cha Cha (who is a tree frog), my daughter was really excited when Cha Cha came out and went around each table to meet all the kids. This was a nice touch and not something we had experienced at other Rainforest Cafe's.

      Do I recommend this restaurant? Well it is most definitely overpriced. The food was pleasant but also quite average - in our experience the price tags weren't reflected in the dishes. You are definitely paying for the atmosphere. The menu seemed extremely limited too (although the new menu looks quite good, so it might be worth checking out). The service was fast and friendly enough. The meet and greet with the tree frog was good too! I'm glad we made a visit but doubt we will return again. The theming of the restaurant is excellent and is probably the main reason why people visit Rainforest Cafe - if you haven't visited a Rainforest Cafe before then it's probably worth a visit (particularly if you have children as they will LOVE it), however if you've had a great experience at another Rainforest Cafe, don't bother!

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        07.03.2010 15:58
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        One for the young or young at heart.

        Rainforest Café is a restaurant which wants to be a jungle film set located in central London, just behind the Trocadero and a mere 2 minutes walk from Picadilly tube station. It's the kind of place that as a boring adult I'd usually avoid, but as a friend had decided to hold her birthday there I felt obligied to temporarily suspend all my preconceptions and prejudices.

        On arrival you enter through a Disney store-type shop selling a variety of stuffed animals and other gifts that doubles the restaurant's entrance before descending down a set of stairs to the darker, damper climes of the restaurant. Immediately you feel in a slightly different world, with a background music of running water, a ceiling of greenery and intermittent loud thunderstorms. I located my friends sitting at a table near a giant gorilla, which sporadically began animated and beat its chest in a mildly disturbing way. Pulling out the cheap-feeling chair to sit down I realised I wasn't being very successful at suspending my prejudices.

        The waitress arrived quickly to ask what I'd like to drink, and like all the staff we met during the evening she was cheerful and efficient. We then looked at the plastic-laminated and brief menu, which featured the predictable selection of burgers and salads at the equally predictable central-London prices (mains were mostly between £13 and £15). Orders were taken accurately and food arrived promptly. The quantity of the mains was impressive (none of us cleared our plates) but the quality was somewhat dubious. After eating and drinking a visit to the ladies was an obvious necessity and I'm happy to report that the toilets were relatively theme-free, clean and well-stocked.

        Overall, despite my attempts to embrace the spirit of the restaurant, I just found it all too fake and forced, and frankly over-priced. However, were I less of a misery guts, or maybe quarter of a century younger, I could see what the appeal could be.

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        16.10.2009 15:55
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        A jungle setting in the heart of soho

        If you've got kids, forget TGI Fridays and the like and take them to this wonderful themed restaurant in the heart of Central London, located to the back of the Trocadero Centre, its within 2 minutes walk of Piccadilly and Leicester Square tubes and is accessible by all manner of buses on Shaftesbury Avenue.,

        Meals are served from midday to 10pm on Monday to Thursday and Noon to 7.30pm on Friday and Saturdays. We took some little family members here and they loved it, the place is themed around an imaginary rainforest so there are animatronic wildlife, waterfalls and strange jungle noises throughout the meal.

        Staff are excellent and build the atmosphere up for the little ones, its a fun and frantic place to eat with wide eyed kids loving it.

        Drinks are wide ranging obviously the emphasis is on fruit drinks and soft drinks as this isn't really a 'date' restaurant but there is a decent range of exotic fruit drinks, the food has themes so you can have a Paradise Pizza or Bambas Bangers.

        The food is totally average, and not innovative in any way, the kids menu is varied but limited as is the adults range and prices are a bit steep with mains costing from £11 to £20, however as a one off its acceptable and you come for the atmosphere not the food anyway.

        Overall I enjoyed the place because the atmosphere was such fun, the noises are a bit off-putting but are a great talking point and the kids stay enthralled throughout.

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          25.08.2008 23:10
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          Would not miss it if you are looking for a family place to eat in London

          Wonderful place for kids and families. It is fairly easy to find not too far from Piccadilly Circus tube station. I booked a table a few days ahead of our trip and we were seen to our table within 15 mins. It is well worth a visit from families visiting London. The 9 and 10 year old with me loved everything about it from the shop that you enter and exit through to the bar where they sat on tall stools painted in animal prints. The tables were a good size with comfortable chairs. The food was in my opinion cheap but this was beacuse it was Kids Week and the children ate free because we were going to a show! The meals were well prepared and there was a reasonable selection on the menu. The portion sizes were good and there were no complaints from us. The restaurant is beautiful and young kids will love it, although from seeing a fair few toddlers get scarred and upset with the rain, thunder and lightening I would have a think about taking very young ones that are prone to getting upset easily. The place is covered in greenery and little waterfalls and animals at every turn. We sat opposite a gorilla and underneath a cheetah. The restaurant was very big and was full but we did not feel rushed and equally did not have to wait around for ages for drinks or food either. Kids meals came in around £10 and adults around the £12-16 which I consider for the environment in central London very reasonable. Would recommend booking at busy times as it was packed!

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          09.10.2003 17:44
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          When I bought my boyfriend tickets to a west end show we thought wed ,make a night of it! Id previously heard of the rainforest cafe and was eager to experience it myself! Although we are 18 and 20 respectively, my boyfriend and I are kids at heart!The rainforest cafe fed this enthusiasm to be kids whenever we choose! On entry there is a large toyshop full of every species of stuffed animal you could imagine! There was so much I wanted to take home! The Safari man told us the wait was 45mins so we played some air hockey and won loads of tickets in trocadero! By now my belly was rumbling! We were taken down into the restaurant to get a drink at the bar- the decor is amazing. I knew it was themed but this was the ultimate in changing rooms! Vegetation and vines coat the ceings and walls. The walls are also line with tropical trees! And the animals that occasionally move and make noises just add the atmosphere! We got our drinks and were seated on the bridge (just far away enough from the kids themselves!) We ordered our starters- caesar salad and mojos bones both of which were served fairly quickly and were delicious! Whilst waiting for our main course we experienced a tropical rainstorm, strobe lighting, thunder and surrounding waterfalls trickled around us! Brilliant entertainment while you wait! Our main course gave us the best steak weve ever had! Cooked just how we wanted it (1 Rare, 1 medium)! But being the animal i am (excuse the pun) I just had to have the chocolate fudge cake dessert! and what a great end to the meal it was! The bill came to £40 for the both of us which considering wed had a 3 corse meal. refillable drinks and a great time we were happy to pay it and leave a tip! For the young, the young at heart and the just plain curious! A great meal in great surroundings!

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            07.01.2002 21:22
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            My friend Katie suggested just over a week ago that a group of friends should go to London, which is about 30 miles from where we live, and go shopping in the January sales. Being a woman I love shopping especially when prices are reduced so I and two other friends agreed. They wanted to go to the rainforest café for lunch, a place I had never heard of. We checked the menu on the Internet, and decided what we wanted, sadly the prices weren’t on there but at least we knew what food there was. But I’m not here to talk about the web page so I’ll move on. We arrived at the restaurant at 12.15, which was 15 minutes after it opened. The restaurant in London (which took as a while to find) is near Piccadilly Circus tube station off a little road off Regent Street. The outside was a dimmed window with animal toys making a display. We stepped inside to fin ourselves in a toyshop (parents be where) that you have to walk through to get to the restaurant. The shop is full of memorabilia like toys and t-shirts. Walking through you come to a little booth (we had to queue to get to this) where you give your first name and you are told what time a table will be ready. You can book in advance but not in school holidays. You are issued a ticket and then are free to go where you like until your given time, ours was 1pm, so we went shopping for a little while. While we were queuing we were entertained with wonderful facts about the rainforest by a talking tree, did you know cocoa came from the rainforest originally? We came back at our given time and went down a flight of stairs. It was very busy, mainly full of families, not a bunch of sixteen year olds. We handed in our ticket and were told to get a drink from the counter. There was no orderly queue and only two people were serving. In the end we managed to get a seat at the bar and get served. The seats were the bottom halves of animals, mine was a Zebra. The
            drinks were no cheap but had original and themed names. I ended up with a diet Pepsi setting me back £1.70 but it had unlimited refills which I used (once, I couldn’t face the queue after that). We waited a while before our group name was called out (group Katie of four) and we were taken to our seats that were in a corner… keep the teenagers out of site. We were given our menus and had a look what was on offer. There are vegetarian meals and also a children’s menu for those who can’t manage so much. Three of us had a Thai wok which had chicken in it but if requested could be cooked without. It came with complimentary garlic bread but at £9.95 I would expect so… it is London though. My meal was wonderful although I could of done with a bit more, but then that means that I could go out and buy a donut or cookie later or if I wanted. The portions were a nice size though and tasted wonderful. So what was the restaurant like to be called the rainforest café? Well there ceiling is covered with vines, as is the wall to make it look like there is a canopy of leaves above you from trees. There are electronic animals around that occasionally move. Near our table we had an elephant and a giant butterfly. Near the toilets there were monkeys and by the entrance there was an alligator that moved when you threw a penny at it. Every now and then there are tropical storms. Lights start flashing to symbolise lightening and there is the sound of thunder. Luckily we are spared from rain falling down on us. The toilets didn’t keep up the toilet theme apart from that they smell of rhino dung; I was really looking forward to animal print toilet seats as well. The service was not too fast but this meant you could take in the atmosphere slowly instead of being rushed and chucked out for your table, however I really did want to go shopping was this wasn’t perfect for me. The place was l
            ittered with children and parents who seemed to be enjoying themselves. If you have children then I recommend you go there for a treat some time. I have to say that at sixteen I still loved it but when I told my boyfriend afterwards he laughed at me, so be careful before you take your ‘grown up’ son’s long with you. Well that’s all I have to say. There are lots of branches of the café around as it is originally American, so look for one near you. More information go to http://www.rainforestcafe.com Love Sara

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              03.08.2001 15:25
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              Last night me and my freind went to the rainforest cafe for something to eat and to drink i had not been there before but my freind had and he said that he would treat me because he is kind and because i had forgotten my wallet When you first walk in it is like you have walked into a toy shop with lots of toys laying around and we had a look at some of them and some of the other gifts to buy there was a lot of tourists in there buying gifts to take back to the country that they come from And then we walked down the stairs and saw a man dressed like a jungle ranger called simon and he was a bit like that man who was on big brother who won the money my freind said watch youre back quentin but i donot know why He then gave us a number and then we sat up at the bar and got a drink each i had cola and my freind had a pinacolada There were lots of drinks for us to choose from like cola and lemonaid and beer and wine and lots of cocktails then it was time for us to go to our table and to look at the menu and order some food here is a list of things thast i can remember was on the menu Burgers ribs fries which is american for chips steak onion rings pasta and lots more that i cant remember Something about the rainforest cafe is that the inside is like a jungle and here is a list of things that are inside elephants making noise monkey noises which is what i liked snakes trees the sound of rain and thunder and then flashing of lightning and stars on the roof and a great big fish tank full of fish and water and a waterfall and a tree that talks I ate some ribs and some fries and i drunk a lot of cola and my freind had a great big burger and some salad and he drunk some more cocktails that he said were potent to tha max The bill came to £24 and i thought that was really good and i want to go there again but i will not go with olaojomo because i donot have enough money to take her and she is now in jail

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                28.05.2001 17:28

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                • "Not cheap"

                Chance to have a proper drink while kids eat (shame McDs don't!) - Advantages: Good for kids, Friendly staff - Disadvantages: Pricey, Not great food, Not cheap

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                17.03.2001 18:51
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                My sister had heard of the Rainforest Cafe from her friend that visited America. As soon as I walked in the rainforest atmosphere cam alive. The sound effects the scenery it was great. A woman gave us a menu and told us to wait at the bar downstairs. We ordered our drinks which were free refills too. Finally we were shown to our seats. The menu was given to us so I looked the thing that caught my eye was Modjo Bones, I decided to take it as a stater becuase I usually can't have too much. My sister took the same as me, but in a main mean. Thstarter was huge I got stuck in right away, it was served with fried onions which were crispy I loved them. I got chips too. I couldn't eat anymore and it was a starter. I was so full I couldn't even have a dessert. It was the nicest meal I've ever had. I wouldn't say it was too much considering the amount given. My sister eats everything and couldn't finish. The staff were happy and attentive to when you wanted refills. What made the atmosphere was the occasional storm inside where the sound of rain came on and the flashes appeared. The celing had tree trunks and animals on them. I loved it and want to go there on my visit to America this year. The thing I did after my meal was go upstairs. I bought a t-shirt and a cap. There were toys and bags and all merchandise available.

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                  23.02.2001 00:13
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                  I remember the first time I went to the Rainforest cafe, it was a few years ago. I was in the first stages of dating my girlfriend, and the place looked fun, different. It is located just behind the Trocadero, Picaddily Circus end of Shaftesbury Avenue(right hand side if your walking from the underground) Disabled access I think is limited due to 30 stairs seperating the entrance to the restaurant, but there may be a lift I didn't notice. As you enter you are welcomed by Tracey the Tree(yes it is a tree who talks) who tells you all about the wonderful things in the rainforest. The upstairs of the restaurant sells the merchandise, and I must admit some of it is quite fun, but please not be under the impression the restaurant is there to donate its profits for ecology. As it states in the menu, it is more for awareness. So you are given a animal name, and called downstairs when your table is ready. The first time I went the choice was amazing. I am veggie and my girlfriend is not, but the selection of food was very varied from burgers, pasta, vegetable creations wrapping in vine leaves, mexican, you get the picture. Add a large selection of beautiful cocktails and smoothies, it was great. While you eat, animals roar at you, there is lightning and thunder, and even the air changes depending on the rainforst season, sounds pretty amazing. Well it was on the first few visits, but not so on our last visit in Feb 2001, when we took a 10 year old kid with us. The restaurant was quite empty, and now I know why. The cocktail list has been reduced from 30 to about 8, the same goes with the food. The food tasted OK although when we ordered a well done stake it came out raw. And they did have a colouring in set for kids. Price wise it is quite expensive. Main course about 8 pounds, drinks about 3 pounds. In conclusion it was well worth it the first time but not without the ch
                  oice and selection. I am sorry but I will not be returning. One for the kids, if they are not fussy eaters I think.

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                  19.10.2000 00:10
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                  Great for kids and adults who havent quite grown up yet. I went there at christmas with some of my friends as we couldn't be bothered to wait 2 hours for a table in TGI fridays. The food is good and about the same price you would pay in TGIs so is quite reasonable for the west end of London. It is situated on shaftsburry avenue very close to Picadilly Circus and so it is very easy to get there. The whole place is decorated to look like the inside of a rain forest and has animatronic animals and jungle sounds piped in for atmosphere. The shop upstairs has some nice stuff in it (T-shirts posters etc)but is quite expensive.

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