Saturday, November 3, 2012

Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge

With 24 resorts in Disney World, we like to use dining reservations as an excuse to visit them all. I am kicking myself for not having visited Animal Kingdom Lodge until this most recent trip. What was I waiting for?!? 

Resort Impressions
The lobby is grand and impressive, similar to the magnificent grandeur of the Grand Floridian's lobby, but with far more detail and culture in my opinion. The lodge is six stories tall and you enter on the 3rd floor. Looking above, the whole roof is thatched and there are foot bridges on the upper stories to cut across the lobby. There was an overlook to see a bar and Boma below. We grabbed a drink at the bar before our tour and dinner, where we enjoyed all the detailed d├ęcor.

Boma/Jiko Tour
Every day at 4pm there is a free tour, no need to even sign up in advance. Just show up at Boma's front desk and a native African leads a brief tour through the story behind Boma before the restaurant opens up for dinner. We got behind schedule and showed up a few minutes late, but were able to join in. Frankly, between the cooks in the kitchen bustling about, the African music playing in the background, the babbling fountain and the dozen or so guests standing between me and the tour guide, we missed out on hearing the stories about the decoration choices and significance. (All the more reason to stay at the resort and take this tour a few more times, right?). I'll let your read another review of the tour here

Where the tour lacked in volume, it more than made up for in taste! The group got to sample some of Boma's infamous soups and they even handed out recipes for those who wanted them. Another perk of this free tour was  tasting Animal Kingdom Lodge's iconic zebra domes.

The tour then moved to the signature restaurant Jiko, which was right next to Boma. (On this round, I muscled my way up front to hear the guide better). The Jiko tour guide was from South Africa and explained that Jiko has the largest selection of South African vintage wines in North America. The ceiling had drapes hanging to represent birds and there was a beautiful long wall said to represent a sunset. The wall was yellow because it was still early in the day, but as the evening goes on, orange and purple hues appear on the wall to portray the setting sun. In addition to providing each of us with a menu to take home, we got to sample some flat breads, hummus, and sauces. It was simply delicious and I've since added this restaurant to my bucket list.

Overall, I would rate this tour a 4 out of 5 as it was free, no hassle to join, and included free samples, recipes and menus. The next time I'll be sure to arrive earlier to get a spot closer to the guide and enjoy the details.

Boma Dinner
There were a great variety of meats, soups, salads, breads and hummuses, and desserts. Perhaps it was because we had just taken the tour, but the soups and desserts stood out the most. We each had another 2-3 bowls each of the delicious soups. Our favorites were the Coconut Curry Chicken Soup and the Carrot Ginger Soup. The other unique dish that stood out was the watermelon rind salad.

At the end, I just barely had enough room left over for a few bites of dessert and a fabulous African coffee. If I had to do it over again (and I most definitely WILL do it again), I wouldn't take the tour right before dinner. All in all, I highly recommend this dining experience as a feast for the senses.
Clockwise from the top: banana and butterscotch bread pudding, zebra dome, brownie, coffee tart, cinnamon chocolate mousse.

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