REVIEW: Tiffins Restaurant Provides Best In-Park Signature Dining; Jungle Book Package Value?; Every Plate Reviewed
Tiffins, the very first signature restaurant ever inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park opened recently, and rather then rush to a review, I decided to take a few visits here before summing up my thoughts on it. Of course, I did already present a review of the attached Nomad Lounge which you should check out, but I wanted to tackle the entire menu at Tiffins before letting you know what I thought. Let’s dive in…
The restaurant is situated just behind Pizzafari, on what will eventually be the path to Pandora: The World of AVATAR.
The attention to detail in the art around the restaurant and lounge is impeccable: everything you would expect from Disney’s animal Kingdom at this point.
The restaurant is broken into four sections: The Nomad Lounge, Safari Gallery, Grand Gallery, and the Trek Gallery.
If you would like to see more, we offer a full video tour of Tiffins and the Nomad Lounge as well:
OK, enough of that, let’s take a look at the menu…
There is a nice sized drink menu available as well, including a separate wine menu which I’ll highlight towards the end. Many of the specialty beverages are covered in our Nomad Lounge review.
There is also an allergy friendly menu that is bound just as nicely.
Let’s begin with appetizers…
The Lobster Popcorn Thai Curry Soup was my favorite appetizer. It is poured in front of you which is a nice touch.
So unique in presentation and flavor, possibly my favorite soup in all of Walt Disney World.
Not heavy on lobster, but big on flavor.
Black-Eyed Pea Fritters are a restaurant staff favorite and it’s easy to see why. They come with a green zhough sauce and a less spicy Peppadew Sauce which I suppose you can choose between. It’s not a lot, but I was really impressed with the flavor.
The Salad of Roasted Baby Beets was solid, if you like beets I guess…
The Marinated Grilled Octopus is an interesting dish. The octopus is cooked nicely and is very tender and blends well with the rest of the plate. One thing I love about all of the Tiffins menu items is the choice of sauces and accompaniments. It’s somewhat fun to try just the main portion, but then scoop some of the other items on the plate on to it to see what difference they make. A whole lot of thought went into every dish on this menu, and you can taste it.
The following two photos are provided by Josh of EasyWDW.com since my pictures of these two dishes didn’t turn out all that great…
The Archaeologist Salad had my favorite presentation as the presence of crushed pumpernickel bread made it look like it had just been unearthed. A solid salad option, but nothing special for the price.
Flash-fried Icy Blue Mussels are a must if you are a fan of mussels. These featured one of the unique flavor and texture combinations I’ve ever experienced on mussels and I look forward to trying these again.
Josh and I both pretty much refused to try the House-made Head Cheese and Chicken Liver Pâté, so you’ll have to live with just the photo. That being said, the person in my
Sustainable Seasonal Fish Crudo was surprisingly good. I’m not the biggest fan of raw fish, but I would order this again, especially with the Jungle Book dining package for maximum value.
Another favorite of mine was the bread service. While not quite the draw it is at Sanaa, it’s nice to see this make it into the theme parks finally. While it may be disappointing compared to the sister-dish at Sanaa, I was rather happy with the sauce choices here: Harissa Yogurt, Lime Chutney, and Black-Eyed Pea Hummus (along with one more that was not listed in-menu).
Now, some of the sauces have changed since the restaurant opened, with the green sauce being toned down as some guests thought it was too spicy.
Last night we received a yogurt-filled green sauce which lacked the kick of the older offering. However, our server informed us that the darker green, spicier sauce could still be requested since it is still made for use with another dish in the restaurant.
If you don’t want to spend $10 on the bread service, there is a complimentary bread that is served with one of the sauces anyway, so you will get bread one way or the other.
Now, on to the entrees!
The head-on shrimp from Skipper Canteen at the Magic Kingdom is one of my favorites, but Tiffins may have very well done it better. The sea urchin butter sauce has a taste straight out of the ocean, but it was additive good.
the chermoula-rubbed Chicken is the ubiquitous chicken dish for those who aren’t as adventurous, but it wasn’t bad, just a little dry. Not something I would order here, but still fine.
The Berkshire Pork Tenderloin was another solid entry. The “Huitlacoche Tamale” was really dry, but I enjoyed it. Overall a good portion and a worthwhile plate.
The Pan-seared Duck Breast was a big letdown. Small portion and not nearly one of the better pieces of duck I’ve ever had. Stick to Morimoto Asia if you would like a duck dish worth this kind of money.
The most expensive dish is the is the $53 Wagyu Strip Loin and Braised Short Rib (served medium rare), and it is worth it. One of my favorite steak dishes at Walt Disney World an easily your best option on the Dining Plan or Dining Package. I wish the potatoes were better, but the tender and flavorful meat was good enough for me.
I feel like I’ve said this about quite a few dishes lately, but the Roasted Market Vegetable Curry was one of the best vegetarian options on property. A whole lot of spice in this dish which is offset by the side dish.
I ordered the Whole-fried Sustainable Fish the second time at Tiffins just to get this picture really. I had never ordered a fish like this in my life and I decided the time had come to have a fish head on my plate. It’s a yellow snapper with fermented black bean sauce, som tam, and peanuts. You do have to work for your food here to cut it away from bone, but it is worth it for the flavor. If this seems like something you would enjoy, I highly recommend this. Probably my second favorite dish at Tiffins.
I though ti might start signing “take me to the river” at some point…
The Berbere-spiced Lamb Chop was tender and cooked to perfection as well, a wonderful option if you love lamb-chops.
I saved the best for last – The Hoisin-Glazed Halibut. This might be the best seafood dish I’ve ever had in my life. The forbidden rice is a perfect side, and anything that touches the Turmeric sauce is instantly enhanced. I would drink a cup of this sauce if it were provided, but it certainly helps that it was with the most perfectly cooked piece of white fish I’ve ever had. I’m currently plotting a return trip to Tiffins just to eat this again…
Now, to the dessert menu:
The Lime Cheesecake with Almond-Sesame Tuile and Green Tea Sponge was light, but flavorful. Probably a good choice after eating a full appetizer, bread, entree, and drink.
The Passion Fruit Tapioca Créme was a multi-layered delight. Much better than I thought it would be.
The Sorbet Tasting with Kaffir Lime Syrup, Passion Fruit Curd, and Crunchy Vanilla Crouton was OK, but confusing in that you select two flavors from four choices that aren’t even listed in the menu. I ordered passion fruit and jack-fruit flavors as they were the only two I even recognized as real flavors (and I only knew jack-fruit from Living with the Land). This was nothing special, but healthier than most of the others I guess. I wouldn’t recommend it.
The South American Chocolate Ganache is my favorite of the desserts. It’s just perfect: rich chocolate tastes blend perfectly with all of the accompaniments, which also makes each bite of this dessert a little different from the last.
The Calamansi Mousse is as beautiful as it is forgettable. I honestly don’t even remember a flavor (other than being dared to eat the flower).
Coffee and teas are pressed tableside, providing roughly just over 2 cups. A nice touch.
While we did not order any wine, here is the full wine list for you to peruse…
In review, Tiffins is everything this park needed in a table service restaurant. The addition of a signature restaurant to the existing line-up was much needed (although I’m hoping for a lower-end table service addition to the park in Pandora next year). I appreciate that the theme and menu were not regurgitated from Jiko, and also that we truly have the first restaurant ever designed for designers. Who would have ever thought we would get a restaurant about Imagineers designing a theme park?
The menu has some really top notch offerings you really can’t find anywhere else (a few could use some work of course) and the drink menu might be the best from top to bottom of any location on property. Same as Skipper Canteen, I’m proud of Disney for letting the chefs create a menu like this for theme park consumption, and I feel like Tiffins will succeed where Skipper Canteen couldn’t being located in the Magic Kingdom.
As far as pricing, it is a signature restaurant, so the prices are as you expect. That being said, I felt like the prices here were slightly more reasonable than Brown Derby (which I would most closely equate as the only signature in a park of limited options). Of course, I always feel like Brown Derby is worth the price, but I think Tiffins boasts a stronger menu and may have been a better choice for a dining package should the show offered after it had been “Fantasmic!” and not Jungle Book: Alive with Magic. Let’s talk about that package…
If you haven’t read my review of The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic, I think it’s a good preface to what I’m about to say. Now, leaving out that I’m apparently a “get off my lawn” type for not thinking the show is worth a dining package (according to another blog), I will say the value of the package really comes in your meal at Tiffins. Looking at Tiffins prices, there are many options that would leave you with a really tremendous value for your money. Lunch or dinner at Tiffins in the dining package is $67 for adults and $32 for children 9 years of age and younger (tax and gratuity not included) and includes your choice of appetizer, entrée, dessert and non-alcoholic beverage. Considering the combination of the most expensive entree and appetizer alone can cost $69.00, with the proper choices, you can end up saving a nice penny on a Tiffins meal, regardless of whether or not you see the show later.
The viewing area location for the dining package is good, likely one of the best spots to see this show from (and hopefully Rivers of Light someday). So, the consensus the informal survey I took after the show of the guests around us was that Tiffins was worth the price of the package alone, even if the show wasn’t all that great, and I agree. Tiffins is worth visiting at Animal Kingdom regardless of any package, so why not save a few bucks and get a saved seat at this show? Even if you don’t go to the show, I think you will come out ahead.