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Rainforest Cafe

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by Kat Parr Mackintosh (subscribe)
Young and coffee in varying degrees, Kat also says stuff @ThoroughlyMode
Published December 20th 2010

Not all kids have had a chance to finely tune their palate beyond fish fingers and need an extra-sensory dining experience before they'll give a restaurant a five star review. Some restaurants do work at pleasing their smallest guests though, and in turn the families of said small guests, and The Rainforest Cafe is one of the largest and most specialised of this category in London.

They bill their place as a 'tropical hideaway in the heart of the West End', which is a tag-line they try to achieve by recreating the sights, sounds, and even sensations of the rainforest. 'Cause it's not just the animatronic jaguar, elephant, crocodile and butterflies that they're expecting you to be impressed by, it's also the indoor thunder, lightening and sporadic rain showers and a waterfall or two. You'll also be dining to the backdrop of jungle noises, so heed this information all you slightly jumpy Mummies.

This is a themed family restaurant so you need to accept that the menu is going to have extra words added to it to make it more fun. Here's a few translations: Raging Thunder Buffalo Wings = chicken wings, Mojo Bones = pork ribs, Brave New World Pasta = linguini with seafood. You should also note that the chilli is 'volcanic', the steak is 'primal' and the meatballs 'mambo'. The prices aren't quite as fun, but you're paying for the kid-friendly atmosphere and their cheerful little nipper's faces, and who can put a price on that. And what price would you put on experiencing an incident of indoor thunder and lighting?

They back up their gimmicks by caring about rainforest causes, in particular the World Land Trust, who they're major sponsors of. Teaching children about our vanishing rainforests is something parents will be impressed by because it borders on the educational, and we all know that parents like to slip 'educational' into everything.

Their gift shop is a bit of a jungle trap, with lots of colourful, plush characters for your little ones to fall in love with but money from the purchase of these new furry friends also goes towards the cafe's causes, so it's not as dangerous as you might think.

Careful when clicking though to their website... it sounds a bit like cicadas are plaguing your room...
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Why? It's fun and kid-sy.
When: Monday to Friday Midday to 10:00pm Saturday 11:30am to 8:00pm Sunday 11:30am to 10:00pm
Where: 20 Shaftesbury Avenue London W1D 7EU, nearest tube station Piccadilly Circus
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