Wednesday, 16 November 2011
Rainforest Cafe, Dubai
Back in the UK, I avoided chain restaurants like the plague. Boring interiors, expensive menus, poor quality and all the ambience of a furniture showroom, chains never did inspire me or stretch my tastebuds to the extreme. As a noob in Dubai, and not knowing where the 'good bits', the 'dodgy bits' and the 'chav tourist bits' were, I spend my first week muddling my way from one mall to the next, trying to dodge hordes of tourists. When I noticed that the Rainforest Cafe was stone empty, I decided to go there, not questioning why there is such an empty restaurant in a jam-packed mall.
The cafe's USP is its rainforest theme- mechanical animals move round the restaurant, fake vegetation surrounds the tables. At first, this seems quite cool, but you and your fellow diners will soon feel like caged animals yourselves, as other curious mallrats peer in at you in this alternative eaterie. The Rainforest is not completely private, which a high-priced restaurant should be, but allows visitors to the Dubai Aquarium to look in at you after they have looked at the sharks. At this point, I felt like asking whether they could pay me for eating there!
I was looking forward to seeing the menu as I thought it would be as vibrant and exotic as the decor. Nope. Completely bog-standard offerings were served up, reminiscent of a 'two for a fiver' meal deal in a grotty pub back in Blighty. Veggie options were rare, but I managed to find one- oh, how grateful I was! A limp ciabatta with a layer of mayo and some bits of supposedly fresh grilled veg, served with some chips. This non-feast was about £8- a rip off for what was essentially a chip butty. The carnivores could enjoy some processed chicken with more chips, or even a selection of fishy delicacies- a bit inappropriate, considering the view from the restaurant is the world's largest fish tank.
The only plus point to this dismal experience was the friendly staff. I suppose they pity any diners who are so foolish to part with their cash and buy an overpriced, substandard Subway, which is what you're doing if you eat at this overhyped tourist trap. I declare R*inforest C*fe a profanity for all food lovers!