Victoria Falls is the lounge at Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House on the floor in between the main lobby above and Boma and Jiko below.
Despite being buoyed in between several capable kitchens, the lounge menu consisted of just three food items for years – A seasonal cheese plate, crisp breads and dips, and roasted nuts with African spices. That changed recently with the addition of several hot dishes and an expansion of the various breads and dips.
$15 buys you three hunks alongside honey, jam, and pappadam. The Valdeon up front runs about $25 a pound and is a creamy, rich cow and goat’s milk blue cheese. Cabot Clothbound is even more expensive at $30/pound and is a much firmer cheese, bandaged with muslin and skillfully aged about a year in Vermont. It nicely balances sharpness and nuttiness. And perhaps more importantly, the milk comes from a single herd of cows and Jasper Hills only distribute 25 wheels of it a month. At the bargain price of about $20/pound, Petit Agour is a French sheep’s milk cheese that is firm and equal parts sweet, spicy, and creamy. The Marcona almonds, imported from Spain, are a trendy addition that are a bit sweeter than your usual nut. All in all, the plate is a good value.
Or you could say the cheese tasted like cheese.
The African-inspired tapas is a nice assortment of dates, cumin green olives, Sambal Calamata olives, Bresaola, sea salt pistachios, spiced honey roasted peanuts, dried banana chips, Black Mission figs, and pumpkin seed crisp, each in its own little bowl for $12. Probably best shared among three or four people, there are a lot of flavors going on here. While the peanuts, banana chips, and pistachios were all pedestrian, the Sambal Calamata olives impressed with a genuinely spicy flavor, the beef was a couple ounces of high quality salted meat, and the figs and dates added a fruity component.
The breads and spreads are largely the same as what you’d be able to sample downstairs at Boma. The mango chutney is a page right out of Sanaa’s playbook.
For nine bucks, this is going to be a filling assortment for several people to share, though it’s likely most of the bread comes from a bag and the hummus arrives in gigantic tubs from off-site. Still, it’s a lot of stuff and it does come wrapped in leopard print tissue paper.
On the other hand, Sanaa’s bread service with three accompaniments is $9.99 and with all nine accompaniments, just $11.99. And all the bread is freshly prepared and the various dips range from familiar to far more exotic. It’s a significantly better value for higher quality food.
There is a lot going on with the Crispy Chickpea Bites – bite-sized fritters served with Sag Dahl, Tunisian olive oil, lemon balm, roasted eggplant salad and sautéed feta cheese. Why they don’t simply call these falafel I’m not sure, but your eight bucks buys you eight balls, two sizable hunks of feta cheese, and a lot of interesting flavors going on underneath in the eggplant salad. Unfortunately, ours were served lukewarm, which detracted from the bites, but you may have better luck as staff gets more comfortable with the new menu.
Pork Wings – served with tamarind barbecue sauce, crispy onions and cilantro – $10 buys you four ribs and some Funyun-like onions. I’m not real sure why they don’t call these ribs, unless Applebee’s ALL YOU CAN EAT “Crosscut Ribs” have ruined ribs for everybody. These too arrived lukewarm at best, which was unfortunate, because the tangy glaze and tender meat were excellent. The onions arrived limp, but added another dimension of flavor.
All in all, the new menu is promising, but the execution was lacking.
The Falls offers three somewhat unique signature cocktails and two beers.
We’ve covered the forgettable Casa in depth. Tusker is a bit better and comes in at 5% in the same style as Kirin Ichiban or Longboard Island Lager. Both will set you back $7.50.
Speaking of beer, Disney greatly expanded its lounge offerings last year.
That’s over 35 options, which is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, that list has been cut dramatically at most locations, which now offer just:
Options are down about 40%, including most of the “best” options like Jai Ala, Dale’s Pale Ale, Ommegang Abbey, St. Bernardus 12, Left Hand Milk Stout, and others.
You may have seen the website get on La Cava over at Epcot for pre-mixing their margaritas in 150 oz+ jugs and charging $14.50 a pop for the privilege. Victoria Falls was doing the same thing. We wouldn’t have known except the drinks came out unbelievably fast after they were ordered. Lisa ordered the $9 Victoria Falls Mist – Van der Hum Tangerine Liqueur, Melon Liqueur, Banana Liqueur, Citrus, and Sprite and not 30 seconds later, it was delivered tableside. The drink was otherwise unbalanced, thick, and tasting of little more than melon liqueur.
The Nyani Nyani is a frozen blend of Amarula Cream and Banana Liqueur and tastes largely like the inside of a Zebra Dome. It was the tastiest and most refreshing of the bunch. And requiring blending, also the freshest made.
My $9 Mt. Kilimarita – Sauza Gold Tequila, Van der Hum Tangerine Liqueur, Citrus, and Cranberry Juice also arrived far too quickly to be freshly made and tasted like it.
The Lounge was unusually busy because of the wet weather and you may have more luck when things are “normal” and there’s four or five people there.
Overall, Victoria Falls’ new menu offers some nice snacks to enjoy over cocktails. Those looking for “real food” probably want to head over to Sanaa at Kidani Village, which has its own menu and is open until midnight.
Most of the resorts that offer unique merchandise have a new logo and Animal Kingdom Lodge is no different: