Our guide led our party to a table shaded by a canopy of thick foliage of the tropical rainforest. Sounds of the parrots chirping and the chest-pounding gorillas calling out to their mates intermingled with the island music. Thunder crashed and flashes of lightening peeked through the foliage. An Anaconda hissed in the bushes nearby. Without batting a lash we opened our menus and began to consider what to tuck into for lunch.
Friday family lunches were starting to stale with routine, so it was a nice change to be seated in the Amazonian rain forest; or at CityStars’ Rainforest Café, the closest imitation we were going to get in Cairo.
From looking around, the Café was a mecca for families. Almost every table had an empty place setting where a child abandoned their meal to take a tour of the forest: the large butterflies nestled on the sides of the wall, the large gorilla showing off to his audience, the parrot peeking from the branches of a tree and the live fish swimming in the large aquariums.
Near everything – aside from the fish – was a plastic replica. The children, however, didn’t seem to mind the kitsch environment. And who can blame them. Growing up in this city doesn’t expose them to much nature.
Unfortunately, the menu lacked the originality of the setting. Browsing through the menu, it all seems vaguely familiar. Buffalo wings, nachos, burgers, oh my. It begs the question: Why does an Amazon inspired café have a Tex Mex menu? The menu choices are the staple of American chain restaurants, and were not inspiring. I’ll give them credit, however, for trying to carry the jungle theme throughout the menu.
The kids’ menu – not surprisingly printed in coloring book featuring the characters of the café – listed out burgers, chicken nuggets and pasta. The macaroni and cheese was a huge success with the kids, though they pushed the safari nuggets aside. But, in their view, the meal was a paled second to the rope bridge which they took pleasure in running across at least seven times.
We didn’t have very high epicurean expectations for the meal. The fish ‘n chips weren’t too bad. The batter was crispy, but the fish was slightly oily.
The fries were disappointing; bland in both color and taste. The roasted vegetable salad was more of a success. The best choice from the menu turned out to be the steak, though it came with a high price tag. Suffice it to say, the meal was less impressive than the setting.
We caught sight of a waiter carrying a towering dessert. We immediately requested one of the same. The “Volcano is served with flair for the dramatic. The approaching waiter calls out “Volcano in an ominous warning voice, and his colleagues join in chorus. It’s forewarning that it takes a village to wipe out the chocolate and caramel lava sauce flowing down the sides of slabs of brownie placed on scoops of vanilla ice cream in a volcanic formation. It’s enormous, and as delicious as it looks. The rich dessert almost makes up for the mediocre main course.
The Rainforest Café is a great family outing. The kids definitely enjoy themselves, though the parents might gasp at the prices. The meal is pricy, and hold on to your wallets because you can’t leave without passing through the retail village.
It’s a surprising concept. Raising awareness of the dwindling Amazonian rainforest by recreating it unnaturally for visiting diners is a novel approach to say the least. Possibly, it’s a warning that if we continue to threaten the Amazon’s natural environment, the Rainforest Café will be the only available substitute. (Now that really is a scary thought.)