A restaurant that bills itself as a Prehistoric Family Adventure sounds like the perfect way to spend a lunch, and my daughters Eilis and Granuaile did just that on our recent visit to Downtown Disney in Orlando. Seeing an obvious lack of a lunch crowd, we walked into the restaurant and were seated right away – well, right away after the girls at the podium finished discussing their nail polish and how long it doesn’t last. Hmmmm, can you tell where this might be going?
When you go to a restaurant named T-Rex, you can probably assume you could feed a “dinosaur” of an appetite with their “mammoth” portions (why am I not in advertising??), and you would be correct. Everything here is big – the animatronics, the gift shop, the dining room, the portions, and the delay in service. We’ll take it all one step at a time.
We are seated in the Coral Reef room, which is supposed to be an underwater adventure type atmosphere. The good thing about being seated here is that there aren’t any dinosaurs that will frighten small children – meaning Granuaile – during the meteor shower that occurs during the course of your meal. The bad thing about being seated here is that we’re not quite sure what it has to do with dinosaurs. It’s darned cute here, though. Another area of the restaurant that seems pretty insulated from the dinosaurs is the Glacier room – very cool (no pun intended – oh who am I kidding, of course there was).
Our waitress comes over and takes a drink order, then disappears for a period of time equal to the length of the Mesozoic Era (alright, maybe she wasn’t gone for 180 million years, but when you’re thirsty, it certainly seems that long!). We played musical chairs a bit, because once we were settled, Eilis couldn’t see the dinosaurs and Granuaile could see too much of them, and then she couldn’t see the fish tank, and by the time we all finally settled into our seats, the waitress came back to take our order. Yay!
The kids meal is pretty typical kids meal fare. Pizza, pasta, mac and cheese, burgers. Eilis ordered the Shrimpkens – popcorn shrimp and chicken tidbits. The meal comes with a choice of side dishes, but Eilis was not offered a choice. They delivered her meal with baked beans, which she loves about as much as she loves having teeth pulled, without novacaine, using gardening tools. The other options, which I did not know until after lunch when Eilis showed me the menu, include a fresh banana, cinnamon apples, carrot sticks, potato chips, Jello, or mashed potatoes. They did add some chips after she told the waitress she could keep the baked beans.
Granuaile ordered the macaroni and cheese. which came with a slice of a cheesy garlic bread. Granuaile’s meal was $7 and Eilis’ was $8.
I started with a soup, and those that know me and how much I loathe tomato soup will be suprised to learn I ordered the tomato basil soup. When we were at WDW Moms Panel training, we were served a soup with lunch one day that I tried without considering what it might be. It was a blush color – almost like a vodka sauce in an Italian restaurant, and it was SOOOO good. I was optimistic that this soup would be as good, and it did not disappoint. My problem with traditional tomato soup is that it’s, ummm, what’s the technical term? Oh yeah – yucky. It’s acidy tasting and like drinking a can of tomato juice, only without the best part of drinking tomato juice – the vodka. But the tomato basil, again a blush color, is thick and flavorful on a number of levels – not just the acid, tomato taste. It is garnished with a thin slice of Parmesan cheese that melts as I’m eating it, and it’s just delicious.
When I asked our waitress how big the soup portion was, she said it came in a little cup like thing. It does not. It comes in a small cauldron type thing, and had I known it was going to be such a huge portion, I would not have ordered anything else. The thick, rich soup was a pouch filler, and that was after sharing a good bit with Granuaile and a bite or two for Eilis. If you are recently post-op and just moving onto soft foods from liquids, there is no way you’ll be able to finish this – in two meals. Two years post op, I got through about half of it before wanting to call it quits.
Thinking I was going to get a small cup of soup, I also ordered the Footprints Flatbread. The description makes your mouth water – mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan and goat cheese with rotisserie chicken and carmelized onion on flatbread, drizzled with balsamic glaze. You’re drooling, right? Who could blame you!
I must say, I am not now a waitress, although I have been one in the past. Admittedly, my waitress days were at an ice cream parlor in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and in a Hardees restaurant, also in Manteo, NC. I have not waited tables in a busy restaurant with a huge menu, like our waitress here at T-Rex. But I might make mention of the fact that the appetizer a single person is ordering is likely going to feed half of the room before I jot down her order. Our waitress did not. So, here’s my appetizer – remember the “mammoth portions” thing?
Okay, so you notice it’s way too much for a typical individual to eat. But then you’ll notice a clump of green stuff on one end – not so much anywhere else; and a glop of balsamic drizzle at the other end; and one corner had not much of anything but red sauce. And it was a bit mushy – like there was too much moisture on top of the pizza and they couldn’t cook it long enough to make it less mushy without burning the crust. The flavors, on a good day, would have been spectacular. This was not a good day.
I managed to eat one slice of the pizza, but picked the chicken off. It was too dry. The edges were actually very good, and I really would have enjoyed this had it been better thought out. I think they tried to do too much on a flat bread – maybe lighten the toppings? – but on a more substantial crust, this is a good pizza.
When the waitress eventually came back – after a lengthy conversation off to the side with two other members of the waitstaff, and after cleaning the floors along the row of booths behind our table – I asked for a box to wrap the pizza in. This is when she tells me “Yeah, that’s much better heated up the next day than it is the first day.” Good to know. Of course, most people coming here are on vacation, without the option of taking the pizza to go and heating it the next day when it would actually be good. So why is this on the menu?
We decide to skip dessert in favor of a walk over to Goofy’s Candy Company, where I let the kids choose something to snack on later. We also pick up some Jordan almonds for Grandmom and some Rice Krispie treats for Pop-Pop.
Overall, you are going here for the theming, so food might be secondary, and if it is, then you’ll enjoy your meal. It’s great fun to come here, browse around, check out the shop, and appreciate the atmosphere. You can find foods your pouch will tolerate, and you will probably find things you would enjoy. Just know that portions here are large, so you’ll want to share or be prepared to take home left overs.