Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Rainforest Cafe - Shaftesbury Avenue W1

I’m sat next to a waterfall with the spray splashing gently against me face, thunder cracks loudly in my ears with no visible source. I can see a family of gorillas playing in some trees... Sounds idyllic but I’m not on safari; tinny music is adding to cacophony around me.

My nephew tugs on my arm to get my attention and simply says: “I wish we could float through that wall and everything would be quiet. Wouldn't that be nice Uncle Paul?” I'm in a basement under Shaftesbury Avenue and I've sung happy birthday total stranger five times in the last ten minutes.

The Rainforest Café is a physical assault on your senses; everywhere you look something is going on. The waiters dressed like gamekeepers wear a world weary smile that makes me think they are dead on the inside.

Thankfully I'm with my nephews and my mum so I put a brave face on it all. The boys decide to start hitting me with their menus to pass the time. When the boys stop hitting with the menu for long enough I can see it’s clear the dishes were chosen at random.

It’s confused, with no real sense of direction. Almost as if the chef was on crack at the time. Rather than choose between the likes of Rasta Pasta, Volcano Chilli or Wild Wok Noodles I decide to play it safe and go for the Rainforest Classic Burger.

100% beef burger piled high with relish, cheddar cheese, lettuce and tomato in a toasted bun, served with fries. At £14.40 you can’t go wrong, that price tells you it’s going to be a whole lot of burger! Words cannot describe how wrong I was; dry flavourless beef, thin toasted bun with limp lettuce and an anaemic tomato for company.

It’s not anywhere near what I’d expect a good burger to be. I’d choose McDonald's over this any day. The kids rattle through their food with the polite manners my brother and his wife had the good sense to bring them up with.

When they see I'm not eating all mine they tell me off, I’m not allowed a dessert and I receive another beating from their menus for good measure. Slightly shell shocked from the noise, the beatings, the terrifying animatronic gorillas and all the singing I ask for the bill.

Two kids meals, two adults and one round of drinks it came to seventy pounds plus a little change. I will add that I loved every minute of it but the food in short was dire.

Just so you know mum, next time I choose the restaurant! X


  1. I went to a Rainforest Cafe in Florida... it wasn't too great there either but I have to admit your experience sounds much worse than mine! £14 for a burger that looks like that! I would have demanded a refund.

  2. Don't get me wrong, I had a great laugh with it all! The fake thunder was hilarious, the constant birthday singing made the boys laugh. Especially when I taught them to sing happy birthday total stranger... Shocking food and service but I wasn't really surprised considering it's a tourist trap.

  3. They wouldn't have done posh pasta! At least amid the rainforest the menu was dietary labelled. There are so many places to eat, how do you chose when you need something specific and on a grey, drizzly day in London there was a bit of colour down in the cave, in the fish tank anyway.

  4. Aspects of this remind me of a trip to Lego land which I endured a number of years ago.Glad you saw the best in it though.

  5. @mum I will find somewhere that fits don't worry, will have to arrange another visit soon!

    @Snippet I had my family with me, it's just nice spending time with them to be honest. I might even hazard recommending visiting the rainforest cafe just to see how manic it is!