Monday, December 22, 2008

Restaurant Review - T-Rex restaurant, Downtown Disney, 1676 East Buena Vista Drive, Lake Buena Vista, FL

T-Rex restaurantRising up from what was once a parking lot at Downtown Disney is the new towering T-Rex restaurant, brought to you by Landry's, the same folks who brought you Rainforest Cafe. And, in a way, it is like a Rainforest Cafe, loud, colorful, and excitinThe Fern Forestg, except with animatronic dinosaurs instead of rainforest pals. No need to worry if your kids are usually loud as no one will notice. But do take care with very young children as they might be frightened by the noise, large, moving dinosaurs, and the lights darkening for the meteor showers, which happen every 15 minutes.

If you go on an off time, like we did on our two visits (between 3 - 4:30 pm), you can generally walk right in with little wait. However, during the lunch or dinner hours, you will probably have to wait for your name to be called (the "Smith Expedition of four is now ready!") and then wait in line to be seated. This can take over an hour during very busy tourist times.

There are several different seating areas: The Ice Cave that is Ice Cave while bluecovered with "ice" and "snow" and changes colors during the meteor showers but mostly stays blue. The Kitchen of Fire area features woolly mammoths and pterodactyls, and the namesake rotisserie oIce Cave while pinkver fire. The Fern Forest, which is towards the back of the restaurant and is a little quieter (compared to the rest of the restaurant), has most of the herbivore dinosaurs and lots of greenery. And, the Coral Reef area is topped by a huge octopus flailing its tentacles over the bar with enormous “floating” prehistoric sea creatures, and a few real sea creatures in an aquarium.

I found that the only thing really unique about most of the food items on the menu was the Asteroid French Onion Soupname. So, you had Brachiosaurus Bruschetta which is really just bruschetta, and Asteroid French Onion Soup which is really just French onion soup. And frankly, I found the prices to be about twice what I would have normally paid for well, everything. For example, my pot of (Asteroid) French Onion Soup was very good but I would have preferred to pay $3.50 or so for it, not the $6.99 that I did pay. So, I have to conclude that it is like a dinner show... besides the food, you are also paying for the "entertainment" and atmosphere. If you go into it thinking that, you should be okay.

Discovery Blast - a raspberry and cherry slushieWhat with the roaring dinosaurs and meteor showers, it can be hard to hear your server depending on what area you are seated in. The menu is large with fun alcoholic (some with cotton candy no less) and non-alcoholic drinks in souvenir glasses, like the Discovery Blast slushie ($4.99), served in a large bone-shaped cup. The kid’s menu has a lot of activities, if they are bored by the multitude of things moving and roaring around them.

One of my friends got the Colosso Nachos for $13.99. It was a humongous heap of tri-color chips with beef, beans, pico de gallo, sour cream, and a Fire-Roasted Rotisserie Chickenvelveeta-like cheese sauce. She liked it, but couldn't finish it and took the rest home. Her husband got the Fire-Roasted Rotisserie Chicken ($19.99), a half-chicken with two sides. He thought it was “fine” but was expecting more for the price. I got the Tribal Tacos ($16.99), fried fish tacos with black beans and Tribal (Fish) Tacoswild rice. The taste of the fish was good, not too overly fishy, and the avocado cream sauce added a lot of flavor. I would have preferred the corn tortillas to be heated up a bit as they were a bit stiff. Plus, I could have done without so much red cabbage filler. My mother had the tacos on our second trip and she thought the pico de gallo was a bit too spicy for her tastes and agreed about the tortillas. My father ordered the Mega-Mes-O-Mes-O-BonesBones half-rack ribs ($21.99) with waffle fries and cinnamon apples. He really liked the ribs but wasn’t that impressed with the side dishes. On our second trip, I Triassic Tunastarted with the Asteroid French Onion Soup ($6.99) which is served in a cute metal bucket with a very savory slice of garlic toast. The soup was served hot, and was very cheesy with lots of onions and I really enjoyed it. My entrĂ©e was the Triassic Tuna appetizer ($11.99) consisting of three crispy squares of fried wonton topped with small chunks of ahi tuna, mango, and avocado, and topped with a wasabi aioli. The tuna was nice and fresh and the wasabi sauce added a nice kick without being too spicy. It was very good, but very pricey for what I got.

The kid’s menu runs from $6.99 - $7.99 with drinks $1.99 extra. Pasta and pizza items come with a cheese toast slice while the mini-corn dogs, quarter chicken, mini-cheeseburger, popcorn shrimp, and dinosaur chicken nuggets come with a choice of side dish – either carroMac-n-Cheeset sticks, Mini-cheeseburgerchips, baked beans, cinnamon apples, Jell-o, mashed potatoes, or a whole, unpeeled banana. My older son ordered Cosmo’s Cheesy Macaroni and ate the whole thing, including the cheese toast. My younger son got Sly’s Slider – the mini-cheeseburger -- with a banana. He ate about half of both. Both boys loved the atmosphere and we had to walk around the entire restaurant with them while waiting for the food so they could see all of the dinosaurs and take pictures.

We didn't have room for dessert (plus my wallet was cringing) either time we went but they do have the signature Chocolate Extinction ($14.99) that looked huge and could probably feed a whole tableful of people. In the several that we saw carried past our table, it looked like four large pieces of chocolate cake, with vanilla ice cream, caramel sauce, and a sweeping fog covering the plate (courtesy of dry ice in a sealed container) to give it some prehistoric atmosphere.

Part of the experience of T-Rex is the gift shop, dino dig site (that's free!), and the Build-a-Dino store where kids can make dinosaur friends just like at their sister Build-a-Bear stores. I probably won't go back unless we have guests in town and they are big dinosaur fans.

Find out more here: T-Rex Cafe

T-Rex Cafe on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

How much did you tip?

Anonymous said...

Yeah, how was the service overall? I have heard mixed reviews. Some say this place is amazing, the food and service, and others say it is just so-so. I have seen the menu, and it is nothing like Rainforest, there are obvious differences in the two restaurants. Now that there is time removed from the experience, do you have anything to add?

Anonymous said...

its a good place and the service is very great. just make sure you read the menu carefully and choose what you like so it doesn't come out a different order than what you wanted. other than that the food is great. the mash potatoes are amazing and so are the fries

Anonymous said...

My experience with this restaurant was horrible. Worst $80 spent in my life. My water tasted super bad! I love eating out and this was the first time i didn't eat my food in the restaurant and what i took home i threw out. Had to wait in line for more than an hour, and it was NOT WORTH IT!! Really they are charging so much just of because of the way the restaurant looks, the food is of very poor quality and taste. Oh, and the next day i woke up with diarrhea which lasted for a week!

Anonymous said...

Horrible!! Wasnt worth the money or the experience

Anonymous said...

My kids (12&4) and I eat there this past week(6/09). We all loved it!!All the staff was super friendly,telling us to look around pet the dinosaurs and take some cool pictures. The menu is different from Rainforest but prices are about the same and you do get alot for the price.My 12yrs ate off the kids menu and that was enough for him. If you want to look over the menu go to they have everything. We had no wait at all and really any room has alot going on the dinos are always moving . The metor show every 20 mins is very cool. (check out the ice age room )We prefer to go to T-Rex from now on!!

Anonymous said...

Charming question

Damon said...

Very disappointed with management. Had an awful experience and no one at T-Rex (or corporate T-Rex) was willing to work with us. Great props, but that is all. What ever you do, don't leave your stroller in the designated stroller area. IT MAY GET STOLEN!!!!!!! AND NO ONE AT T-REX CARES ABOUT YOU!!! ONLY YOUR MONEY!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

well! I work for T-Rex and about prices is ok...I mean if you think about it,your at Disney everything is expensive. So! you do get a lot of food , and Disney restaurants they charge a lot and you leave with an empty stomach. The nachos make very sick, you will be lucky if you get diarrhea. The staff is very friendly, and yes we care about your money, thats how we get to work and help you guys. The stroller section there is nothing we can do about it, Disney doesn't let us make it more safe. so! if you wanna complain about the strollers not being watch call Disney and complain that will be the only way they would let the company do something about it... We also do not let the strollers be inside because is crowed is not safety to have strollers blocking your way in case of emergency. If you had a bad time at T-Rex is because you made it that way. You can not pretend that we give you all he coupons and discounts that you want to get. Those companies that gives you special coupons have to make a contract with our company so we do not lose money. We try to make your vacation very memorable with your wishes coming true and all those nice things that Disney tell you it will happen when you come and stay at Disney property. So! please do not get mad at everyone when someone else got you mad. We hate screaming kids but we get it if they scream because they get scare but what we hate the most is screaming parents.I really do not know what goes in their mind when they hit or scream at their kids in front of others. If I say I can give you a friking discount is not because I don't want to is because I simply CAN'T. Oh! and if you see that their is a line to eat at the restaurant ask the hostess how long is the wait because it might see like a big line but it can be just 10 to 15 min or just go to the bar and have a sit if you see an empty chair. YES, you can take your kids to the bar is a friendly kids zone, is the same menu as the restaurant. If you get a ticket and the line is like 45 mins or more don't complain, because the hostess always tells you how long the wait is before you "sign in." If you don't like just walk away. Most of the time your attitude towards us can affect us, we actually try our best to help you as long as your are respectful to us. TREAT US LIKE YOU WOULD LIKE TO BE TREAT IT...also, do not ask us if we like our job of course we are not going to say how much we hate it or what a bad day we had, we are humans and do not feel happy all the time. T-Rex is great as long as you make it great. Be happy and enjoy the moment.

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