Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel
9939 Universal Boulevard
Jetting from one corner of the US down to almost the exact opposite quadrant is something that I never enjoy. I realize its just one country, but man, can America seem massive some times. And I’m not just talking about the gigantic people I sometimes get sat next to on the airplane. So after a day long journey, a taxi ride once I landed and a groggy check-in past the dinner hour, I was in no mood to check in with my mates (one of whom had arrived two hours before me) and desperately needed to eat something as I got into my room. Thank goodness for that wonderful thing called room service.
Those massively, old fashioned binders that house the pages of the hotel’s restaurant options had some not bad looking choices, but room service was limited to just the one. Fine, I thought, let’s just roll with it. It seemed to be from the Cafe Osceola located on the main floor, and their menu choices were pretty standard fare variety American family fare. As I really hadn’t had anything substantial on the plane rides (after all, who wants airplane food?), I thought it might be overwhelming but decided to get a French Onion Soup to begin with. I should have taken the plastic wrap in taking this shot – so excuse the shiny glare. It was a good size, easily the palm of my hand. A thick layer of oozy cheese was cut through, revealing a very thick with bread cubes soup. Rich and flavorful, and not too salty. The only downside with room service is of course, the temperature of the soup had cooled somewhat, to the point where it was getting just above warm.
Disney Animal Kingdom
505 N Rainforest Road
Lake Buena Vista, FL
Downtown Disney. A destination location without a doubt. Flooded with families and young children on a hot day in Florida, the scene is a quintessential vacation scene. Sun, fun and shopping. What’s not to like. Especially for the kids. But there is a dark side. When it comes to eating, things can become a) quite pricey as they have you a virtual hostage and b) choices are limited. With only two hours to kill and figuring we should at least check things out (no kids in tow of course) on a business trip, a colleague and I tried to squeeze in both some gift shopping and a late lunch. Seeking shelter from the bright sun, our reprieve from the unwavering heat ended up being the Rainforest Cafe. Not the only choice nor a preferred one, just the closest one…
In hindsight, I’ve learned this is a big chain in the States with roots in thirteen states. As well, they have some international representation in places such as Tokyo, London, Paris, Mexico City and Dubai! I suppose this theme-style restaurant that stretches the ideal through its menu and motif remains a popular one, despite the downturn of other such adventurous chains like Planet Hollywood and the Hard Rock Cafe. Inside and once seated, we got that “have you been here before?” query, no doubt something each server is required to ask patrons. The reason? Well, if it were not for the “warning” regarding the every-thirty-minutes sudden explosion of sights and sounds that occurs throughout the entire restaurant – attributed to the animal-themed decorations and props – I’m sure there would be quite the number of shocked customers. Heart attack-inducing loudness I might add. Complete with a thunderous roar of artificial sounding thunderstorms and lightning. Yes, we are after all, in a rain forest people.
4969 International Drive
A short reprieve from the business at hand led me and a partner to hit one of the larger outlet shopping malls in this wildly spaced out city. As such, some quick shopping was our main focus and grabbing a quick meal before we had to return elsewhere wearing uncomfortable business attire under the sunny skies was secondary. Out of pure convenience, we popped into Kafé Kalik, who’s signage claimed they were a “taste of the Bahamas”. While I have never been to the Caribbean, my Spanish speaking pal has many times so I had to twist his arm to join me – while we both knew we were likely in for some underwhelming wannabe-ethnic cuisine.
Our suspicious were confirmed as once we were seated in a very empty dining hall near the bar side, I spotted a connecting sushi bar that was tied to the business. I think in spite, my dining buddy actually ordered a sushi roll as his main meal. With this Japanese and Caribbean fused sushi roll menu that included things like tempura conch, and curried tuna among them, it kind of reminded me of the eclectic mix at The Lions Den Cafe. I won’t even go there as I’m not sure it deserves any comment. Our server was a cheery and quite outgoing Latina woman, who was overly interested in pushing the special items on the lunch menu. I hardly paid attention as the first mention was some kind of trio of mini burgers. Not exactly unique.