We make a return visit to Tiffins to try their new lunch offering and will mosey over to Nomad Lounge to see what’s going on over there. The website already reviewed every appetizer, all-but-one entree, every dessert, and every drink on the dinner menu in this post and I won’t spend a ton of time rehashing what we learned there. But we will discuss value and whether you want to take a long look at lunch or would prefer to visit later in the evening for dinner. There is also a lengthy review of Nomad Lounge with all of the “small plates” reviewed in this post.
I will take a moment to say that Tiffins is currently my favorite theme park restaurant and the lunch menu, which offers a choice of two items served with jade blend rice, is a nice opportunity to experience the flavors and atmosphere of the restaurant without committing to a pricier dinner.
At $28, lunch is less expensive than the least expensive entree from the main menu:
A couple of these items are straight off the appetizer menu and it perhaps does not make a ton of sense to order them together as part of the lunch.
The items that are from the appetizer list are the full or nearly-full portion, in addition to the rice. So if you went with the Fish Crudo and Grilled Octopus, you’d be looking at $31 worth of food versus ordering the Fritters and Blue Mussels, where the value would be just $23.
This is the entree portion of the Market Vegetable Curry, which I would reiterate is fantastic, but awfully expensive for a vegetarian dish at $29. But you are perhaps paying more for the careful preparation than literally adding up what the vegetables would cost at the grocery store.
The full-size portion of the chicken – we’ll see the lunch version shortly, but the preparation on both is the same.
But other lunch choices are more of a “side item” from a dinner entree rather than the main event. For example, the 72-hour Beef Short Rib on the lunch menu arrives alongside the Wagyu Strip Loin that would set you back $53 at dinner. The only item on the lunch menu that is not present as part of the main menu is the Chilled Shrimp and Noodle Salad.
Here is the rest of the menu that is available all-day. So if you have a group of four, a couple of you could order lunch while someone else goes with an entree from the main menu:
The menu has already been reprinted from opening day now with suggested wine pairings underneath each entree. The Peruvian Purple Potatoes that are served with the wagyu are now available as a $5 side and the Szechuan Green Beans are a new addition.
One of the three breads that arrives with the $10 Bread Service is delivered to each table complimentary. The Pomegranate Olive Oil is certainly an acquired taste and a little different than you’d receive just about anywhere else. Be prepared for the astringent sourness and give it a little stir before putting it on the bread.
The $12 Selection of Artisanal Cheeses is the lone addition to the appetizer lineup, served here and at Nomad Lounge next door.
At Nomad, it’s a no-brainer as you may recall that the lounge puts the small in small plates in terms of portion sizes.
$10 for three chicken wings seems silly.
But we were impressed with the quality of the cheeses – there’s a gouda, goat, feta and blue in sizable chunks with a side of toast/crostini for spreading, in addition to a couple gooseberries and a small handful of fabulous almonds with a distinct, earthy flavor. Obviously if you like cheese you might consider giving it a whirl at the restaurant, but I think it makes a little more sense at the lounge with drinks. Tiffins has some pretty interesting stuff going on otherwise.
With lunch, the portions of each particular item are not going to be overwhelmingly large, but I think the sum of the components adds up to a filling, robust meal.
The Chilled Shrimp and Noodle Salad – Bean Thread Noodles, Vegetables, and Ponzu was a refreshing beginning to the meal. I’m not sure if anybody has ever told you, but Florida is hot in the summer and sometimes soup or a hot entree just doesn’t sound appealing no matter how good it might taste. We are talking about just two shrimp here and being chilled, I thought they were more chewy than I would have liked, but they had a nice grilled flavor to them and were sizable. Also known as “cellophane noodles” or “Chinese vermicelli,” the thin, soft noodles underneath did a nice job of soaking up the flavors from the ponzu, shrimp, and veggies.
If we are attributing a cost of each dish to something like $11 plus $6 for the rice, then I think there’s decent value here. I would not have turned my nose up at a third shrimp though.
Since I am bad at this, I have a tendency to forget to take a picture of one of the items that I ordered as I worry about getting pictures of everybody else’s food. So we will be taking a moment to discuss that blur in the background, which is the Crispy Yellowtail Snapper – Som Tam and Black Bean Sauce served with Jade Blend Rice. This is a sizable amount of the $43 “Whole-Fried Sustainable Fish,” which you might remember is delivered to the table as a whole fish – skin, scales, bones, eyes, and all. Fortunately(?) your serving here is two pieces of said fish nicely de-boned for your enjoyment. It might be my favorite thing on the current menu with the creaminess of the sauce contrasting wonderfully with the saltiness of the fish and crispiness of the exterior. It’s a must-get I think and a nice alternative to the whole fish should you not wish to work for your meal.
The jade blend rice added some heft to the meal and should fill up any additional belly space. It’s a blend of bamboo and basmati rice, in addition to split baby garbanzo beans, wheat berries, green lentils and daikon radish seeds so you have a complete protein with an earthy, aromatic flavor.
Mr. The Tom joins us again for lunch. He went with the Chermoula-rubbed Chicken – Dried Fruits, Olives, Couscous, and Harissa Yogurt, which he was returning to after trying the $34 full-size version. For lunch, you’ll receive a few strips of chicken breast rather than the chopped up version that arrives with the entree. But the flavor profile is the same – distinctly lemony with a little spice from the harissa and chermoula rub, which is a mixture of herbs, oil, lemon juice, garlic, coriander, and tumeric. Very good and reasonably “safe.”
The 72-Hour Beef Short Rib with Carrots and Chimichurri was a surprisingly large portion considering what Disney often serves at its other signature restaurants.
This is $48 at Jiko for example.
With that said, the meat served here is a little different than what most of us are probably accustomed to, as it doesn’t arrive with that thick, rich cabernet sauce that usually accompanies short ribs. The addition of the chimichurri instead gives it more of a garlicky, oily flavor in what is sort of like a Latin pesto sauce. The meat is tender but not fall-off-the-bone with a bit of chew to it that’s really more like a skirt steak than the typical short rib. But if you’re looking for the most food, this is going to be one of your selections. Still very good if not a bit unexpected.
We added the $5 Szechuan Green Beans as a side and it was another highlight. Large in number, the sauce had some spice to it and the beans were prepared to a perfect al dente. I’d add them to most meals here.
The $5 side of Peruvian Purple Potatoes is about the least artfully arranged plate of food that I’ve been served at Disney World. There are perhaps some health benefits due to an abundance of antioxidants, but they pretty much taste like boiled potatoes. They certainly do not have the rich purple-y exterior that you might expect. You might add them if you have interest, but I don’t think they add much as a side. And it’s a pretty small portion though the price isn’t necessarily outrageous. It wouldn’t surprise me if Disney starts charging people $8 just to look at each marketplace menu during Food/Wine. *don’t make eye contact don’t make eye contact*
Overall, we really enjoyed lunch. The restaurant has not caught on…at all…making it incredibly easy to secure reservations, particularly in the afternoon. We had a noon reservation on Sunday July 10th and there were maybe two other tables occupied. It is not often that you feel like whispering to your tablemates is the appropriate form of communication in Disney restaurants. It did fill in a bit towards the end of our meal, but you shouldn’t have difficulty getting in should you choose to dine here.
Tiffins is otherwise a delightful restaurant serving flavorful food in a fun, unique setting that helps set it apart from other restaurants at Animal Kingdom. The lunch is a nice opportunity to give it a try without having to plunk down $45 per person on entrees. If you were to add two appetizers, I think most couples could get away with that and one lunch if you went with the beef and chicken.
Since it opened, I don’t think that I’ve visited Animal Kingdom without taking a break at Nomad Lounge for a drink and some air-conditioning. It’s a fantastic spot with attentive service and great drinks.
See this post for a full rundown of the menu and reviews of the food and most of the drinks.
The exclusive Kungaloosh Spiced Excursion Ale is one of the most unique drafts on property and perhaps a top five entry overall.
It should be in your top ten. The Xingu is a very good, surprisingly light option as well.
On a recent visit I added a couple of new-to-me drinks in the $10.75 Dalang’s Delight – Starr African Rum, Batavia-Arrack van Oosten, Vander Hum Tangerine Liqueur, Mountain Berry Tea, Simple Syrup, and Lemon Juice on the left and $9.75 Spice Trader Classic – Hayman’s Old Tom Gin, Dolin Vermouth Blanc, Lemon Juice, and Strawberries topped with Soda Water on the right. How much you enjoy any of these is mostly a matter of personal taste, but we thought the Dalang’s Delight was too syrupy with a bland, distantly sweet flavor. None of us were real sure where the strawberry component came into play on the Spice Trader Classic, but it was refreshing, nicely balanced, and packed a subtle punch.
Joe Rohde pronounces it “Moo-stang” so we also pronounce it as though we are a cow. I think the menu infers some kind of unique presentation.
But there is not much to it with the Crown Royal, Brown Sugar, and Butter with hot Coffee being served in a small glass. The quality of your drink depends greatly on how fresh the coffee they use is, but they have improved things since the first day we visited. The coffee has a very rich flavor, sweetened up with the sugar and the Crown providing some alcohol. It is decidedly not my thing, but if the temperature drops to 90 degrees then you might find yourself in the market.
After pressing our poor server into confiding in us over whether the Sinaloa Sangria – A South American Sangria made with Miquel Torres Rosé Wine, Barsol Quebranta Pisco, and fresh Fruit was actually just boxed Beso del Sol, we found out that it really wasn’t, instead being made fresh with a pretty decent rosé. It’s a sweet, refreshing cocktail that you might enjoy if you are not into something a little harder. And at $9.75, it’s a better value than any other sangria that you’ll likely find on property. I got six liters of Beso for $20 at Publix last week in case you want to come over.
The $10.25 Jenn’s Tattoo – Ketel One Vodka, Watermelon, Hibiscus, and Lime Juice is perhaps the second most refreshing drink on the menu, sweet but not cloyingly so. Very summer.
The $12.75 Tempting Tigress – Russell’s Reserve 10yr Bourbon, St. Elizabeth Allspice Dram, Tamarind Syrup, and Lime Juice is my favorite drink on the menu, blending the sweetness of the tamarind with the spiciness of the dram and the acidity of the citrus. Yummmm.
Overall, anyone looking to relax and enjoy a cocktail, alcoholic or not, would be remiss to pass over Nomad Lounge. It’s so comfortable and everyone is so nice. Consider sticking to the cheese and bread service on the food front though.
The addition of a lunch option at Tiffins should make the restaurant more accessible to more prospective diners. I think you’ll love it and find yourself on your phone looking up dinner availability by the end of the meal.
Once I stop laughing about the Yak & Yeti hamburger I will get a review of that up, in addition to more of what’s going on around Animal Kingdom.