Apparently I'm only concerned with the portions of our trip that involved food. On with the report...
Jiko, Swahili for "the cooking place" is located at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge. The atmosphere is very relaxed despite the fact that it is one a handful of truly upscale restaurants in terms of menu, attention to detail, dress code, etc.Jiko's menu can best be described as New African Fusion -- a lot of different tastes incorporated into some modern dishes. All four of us went to dinner (Joe, my mother-in-law, Alex and me), but Alex fell asleep on the way there and slept in his stroller through the entire 2-hour meal.
To begin we shared 2 selections from "The Cooking Place":
Lentil "Pastilla" - lentil-filled phyllo pockets with a sweet and sour sauce (this had sweet potato in it, too)
Kenyan Coffee Barbecued Chicken Flatbread -- with grilled onions, apple julienne, and four cheeses
After this course, we were served some wonderful bread -- very grainy, with sesame seeds and a distinct fennel flavor. With the bread came tandoori butter.
The appetizers all looked wonderful, and I was tempted by the Lemon-Cumin Marinated Ahi Tuna, but in the end I can't pass up a delicious sounding soup, so I had the Roasted Brentwood Corn Soup with spinach chiffanade, roasted corn kernels and sagh dhal cottage cheese. Everyone else had the same thing. The presentation of this soup is both refined and comforting. The server placed a square bowl in front of each of us. Each bowl contained the spinach, roasted corn, and cheese. Then from a ceramic carafe he poured the soup into each bowl. And OMG, it was divine. I think the corn bisque at California Grill was better ("No, I mentioned the bisque.") but this was still a wonderful soup.
For the next course, we chose the following:
Tamarind Braised Beef Short Ribs - with white and sweet potato gratin and tamarind-onion-garlic sauce (Joe)
Seared Jumbo Scallops - with golden brown mealie pap and spicy tomato-onion Chaka-Laka (MIL)
Oak-Grilled Filet Mignon - with macaroni and cheese and red wine sauce (me)
Now, you might be thinking, "macaroni and cheese??" Let me assure you that this was like nothing you'd get out of a box. The cheeses were very creamy and it had just the right amount of flavor and was really a great compliment to the beef, which was excellent. Joe said his ribs were excellent and fall-off-the-bone tender. My MIL said the scallops were the best she'd ever had.
I should add that this restaurant has the largest South African wine selection in North America. I counted 68 wines, with 35 offered by the glass. I had the Rudera Syrah (Deep, intense ruby with violet rim. Whiffs of spice - hints of leafy forest floor on the nose. Gentle and soft entry on to the palate gives way to rich, ripe, concentrated berry fruit flavours. Elegant and aproachable but doesn't dominate. Lingering aftertaste.) I'm not much of a wine drinker, but this wine was superb. Joe had beer Windhoek Lager, a beer from Namibia.
For dessert, we chose the following:
Pistachio Creme Brulee - with layered chocolate bottom (MIL)
And here's where I run into a problem. I didn't get a copy of the dessert menu, and in checking the versions of the menu I can find online, I see that what I had must be a newer dish as it's not on the menu. But it was a tart granny smith apple sorbet paired with a buttermilk ice cream (which was also tart, as if it had lemon in it), served over a bed of cinnamon-dusted julienne apples. Joe had a glass of port. I might have the name of it at home, but I do recall it was a tawny.
As we ordered dessert, Alex began to stir, so we ordered a grilled cheese to go. He ended up sleeping until we got in the car, then devoured the grilled cheese like it was the best one he'd ever had.
So now California Grill has a very, very close runner up for the coveted spot of Tara's Favorite WDW Restaurant.