We arrived on time for our 5:30 reservation and I requested that we be seated by a window. I remembered that last time it was rather dark in the restaurant and consequently my pictures did not turn out well, so I was hoping that some natural light would help this time around and I was correct.
Emily took a few pictures by the entrance to the restaurant while we were waiting to be seated.
As you can see, it is quite unique and beautiful. The back wall, which was then a bright yellow-orange, changes colors throughout the night to represent the setting sun on the African savanna. The ceiling is a deep-blue to represent the sky and it is filled with big white sculptured birds that appear to be flying toward the sunset.
I read that the rings around the restaurant’s many columns represent the neck rings worn by the women of some tribes to indicate beauty and wealth.
Upon being seated at a table by the window, we were presented with this menu:
Jiko Menu as of May 21, 2012
As we were perusing this menu and the wine/cocktail menu, our server, Shellie, stopped by our table to introduce herself and welcome us to Jiko. Shellie provided us with excellent service throughout our meal at Jiko and therefore she would unanimously receive our award for “Favorite Server of this Trip”.
After giving us some time to make our decisions, Shellie took our beverage orders. DD1 went with a South African red wine, the Warwick Estate Pinotage, which she very much enjoyed. Sorry, but we apparently forgot to take a picture of it. I opted to order the same cocktail that I had enjoyed on my last visit…
Jiko Sunriser – Parrot Bay coconut rum, Banana liqueur, orange, pineapple and cranberry juices.
This was again sweet, fruity and delicious, which (as you have probably figured out by now) is the way I like my cocktails. Now Shellie noticed the sad, longing look on DD2’s face when I ordered this sweet, fruity drink and offered to bring her a non-alcoholic version of the Sunriser. DD2 happily accepted this offer and Shellie gained some huge points with her right from the start. We liked both versions of the Sunriser and gave it a rating of “Very Good”. The only problem was trying to hold ourselves back from quickly downing it because it was so light and refreshing on such a hot day.
Oh, and I also wanted to mention that this drink was only $7.00 for the alcoholic version ($4.19 for the Virgin Sunriser), which I thought was very reasonable for a Disney cocktail. And as I was looking at the picture from our 2001 dinner, I realized that I am drinking a Jiko Sunriser! When I went back to my scrapbook to confirm with my notes from that dinner, I discovered that not only was my drink the Sunriser but that it was $6.50. That means the price of it has only risen by $.50 in 11 years. Wow! Way to go, Jiko!
The first food brought to our table was the bread basket …
I forgot to take a picture (probably because I was enjoying my drink so much ) and of course DD2 had told me at the beginning of our trip that she would NOT be taking any pictures of our bread. But I’m pretty sure that the bread service had not changed since our last visit in 2011 so I’ve reused the picture (as you can see, our pictures from that meal came out rather dark. ). Anyway, the bread basket consisted of Dabo bread (an Ethiopian honey-wheat bread which was slightly sweet) and a flaxseed focaccia. These were served with tandoori butter, which was slightly spicy with flavors of curry, garlic, cilantro, and ginger. The sweetness of the Dabo bread and the spiciness of the tandoori butter made for an interesting combination, which I myself didn’t really care for but I’m sure others might enjoy.
Then we had a difference of opinion when choosing our shared appetizer. I really wanted the Inguday Tibs, but the girls objected to this because mushrooms were listed as an ingredient. They proposed that we get our usual. Yes, yet another cheese plate.
So which did we get???
Inguday Tibs in Brik – Mushrooms, spinach, and cheese in crispy Tunisian filo with apples and curry vinaigrette
Artisanal Cheese Selection
Five tasting portions of cheese from around the world with accompaniments – $14.00 (Cheese Plate #6 of the Trip)
Yep, we got both!
So I will first tell you about the cheese plate, our 6th of the trip! You would think we were from Wisconsin…right Tracy (aka Tracerr00)? Anyway, this time the included cheeses were (pictured from left to right): MT TAM (Cow cheese from California), Pleasant Ridge Reserve (Cow, from Wisconsin), Fromage d’Affinois de Brebis (Sheep, from the Rhone-Alps region of France), Pecorino Toscano (Sheep, from Tuscany, Italy), and of course my favorite, the Valdeon Blue Cheese (Blend of Cow and Sheep, from Spain). Unfortunately I forgot to note the accompaniments but I remember that there was spiced fruit jam inside the cup and it was very tasty. The next one I’m not sure about but it may have been pieces of dried fig??? (I guess I’ll go with that unless someone recognizes it to be something else ). Then we have dates, pear gelatin, and slices of toasted fig bread. Oh, and just as a side note, two of these cheeses, the MT TAM and Pleasant Ridge, were also included in the California Grill cheese plate.
And so I’m happy to report that this cheese plate was an all-around success (well, except for the blue cheese which only I liked). We all rated it as “Excellent” and the “Best Cheese Plate” we had had so far! So I was very glad that we had gotten this cheese plate, even though it was the 6th of our trip.
Our other appetizer though was the biggest surprise of the meal. Now it wasn’t really a surprise that I loved these, but the fact that the girls also loved them (despite the mushrooms ) is evidence that these were truly amazing. I would describe them as being similar to Spanakopita, but even better. DD1 and I both rated the Inguday Tibs as “Excellent” and DD2 gave them a “Very Good” (still a very high rating considering the mushroom thing ). But since it was two against one, this appetizer also receives an “Excellent” rating.
So we have gotten off to a fantastic start here, but would our success continue into our entree course??? Well, let’s find out, shall we?
Now I was somewhat worried going into this meal that DD2 would not be able to find an entree on the menu to suit her, shall we say, “limited” tastes. Well, she didn’t find an entree, but she did see a wood-fired flatbread that sounded good.
African-spice Fire-roasted Chicken Flatbread – with Four Cheeses, Bacon, Arugula, Peppadew, and Zough
First of all, I have to ask here, what exactly is zough? I’m thinking it is a sauce or paste, but I can’t seem to find much about it on the internet. Can anyone help with this one? DonaldDoleWhip, perhaps? Anyway, whatever zough is, DD2 liked it and the rest of the ingredients of her flatbread. She gave it a rating of “Very Good”.
EDIT: DonaldDoleWhip came through with an explanation of what “zough” is. It is a chili paste originating in North Africa or the Middle East (it’s popular in countries like Tunisia and Yemen).
DD1 of course ordered the…
Braised Beef Short Rib – This time served with Butter-whipped Potatoes
and a Cabernet-Blood Orange Sauce.
It also again came with Pearl Onions and Baby Carrots.
So some slight changes were made to the potato side and the sauce from last year’s version of this dish, both of which she thought were improvements. She again loved this and gave it a rating of “Excellent”.
And here was my process for choosing my entree: Although the new version of the Filet Mignon was enticing to me, as it was now served with grilled asparagus, cabernet reduction (which I knew I liked from Yachtsman), and “Injera” pudding (I had no idea what this was but it sure sounded interesting), I had had filets on the two previous evenings so I eliminated that option. I also quickly ruled out the “Bunny Chow” just based on its name alone. I was a little afraid about the spiciness of the curry sauce, so nixed the Gulf Shrimp entree. That left six entrees on this menu that sounded equally good to me. I don’t recall any other time on this trip where so many of one menu’s entrees appealed to me. But rather than doing the smart thing and asking Shellie for her recommendation from these six, I instead took the easy way out and copied Allison’s order. In my defense though, as I was about to order something else, I had an image run through my head of my daughter’s very happy face as she ate every bite of her Short Rib dish last year while I sat there with my filet and mac ‘n’ cheese and a very bad case of entree envy.
Yes, again this is the Short Rib Entree
And so, what did I think of the Short Rib?
Well, I must say that the first few bites were really good. I was just getting ready to pat myself on the back for making the right choice, when I suddenly got a mouthful of disgusting fatty meat. Now I should probably tell you that my tolerance for this sort of thing is pretty low…as in, I really, really hate it. I realize that I should have known better than to order a short rib dish, in that they do have a tendency to have some/much fat. But I had had the short rib entree at Citricos last year without issue and Allison seemed to have no problem with her Jiko Short Rib, so I guess I had been lulled into a false sense of security when it came to Short Ribs at Disney Signature restaurants. Now some will say that I should have sent it back if it wasn’t to my liking. However, everything had been so good to this point and the girls were so happy with their food that I didn’t want to change the “wonderful mood” of this meal by complaining about a fatty short rib. Does that make any sense? Well, anyway, I ate the mashed potatoes and carrots, which were good, and I was content. To my girls I said my meal was good, but to you I must be honest and say that it was only “Okay”. I wish there was a “emoji” in the list showing someone attempting to kick themself, because that would very accurately portray my thoughts at this time. I am convinced that if I had ordered any one of the other five entrees, I would have probably been giddy with happiness at this point of our meal.
But as the French say, C’est la vie… or whatever the African version of that phrase would be.
Okay, now on to dessert… or, should I say, what I had hoped would be our dessert.
I of course had both a dessert (Chocolate and Tea Safari) and a tea (Vanilla Rooibos) picked out, when I again heard those awful words coming from my daughter’s mouth (and with her sister nodding in agreement)…”Mom, I’m really full, can we just skip dessert?” I quickly looked at the menu again. No gelato, so that trick wouldn’t work again. And so it was with great sadness, that I told Shellie that we would not be ordering dessert.
But all (dessert) is not lost my friends, because Shellie, being the wonderful server that she was, brought Allison these in honor of her graduation…
Card of Congratulations signed by all the Jiko staff
(Very nice, but didn’t taste good )
Complimentary Portion of the Chocolate and Tea Safari
Vanilla Rooibos-Tanzanian Chocolate Cake decorated with Mickey sprinkles and served with three spoons.
So at this time I must award our server, Shellie a :
And now, Emily was happily full. She passed on the cake.
Allison was very happy to receive the special attention. She gave the cake a “Good”.
I was happy that I got to try that cake after all. I gave it a “Good”
Shellie was probably happy because I gave her an extra good tip.
And so we had a “Happy Ending”!!!
Our overall rating for this meal was: Very Good
So in summary, my daughters loved this meal, so much so that when asked what their favorite meals of this trip were, Jiko is always mentioned by both girls. As for me, I am not quite yet convinced. Although I have loved all of their appetizers, after two less than stellar entrees, I am still on the fence regarding Jiko. But I am very anxious to return there on a quest to find the perfect (for me) entree. I have a feeling it was on that menu, calling my name…but sadly I just didn’t listen that night.
And that, my dear folks, finally concludes this Jiko Dinner Review!