Rain Forest Café
North Clark, Chicago, IL
Review by Rosie
Our group of adults and sprouts had had a busy day of sightseeing and shopping and were ready to sit down to a good meal in a fun place. And the restaurant was ready for us - no lost reservation, but due to circumstances beyond anyone's control we were not seated for nearly an hour. To make it up to us, the management offered us complimentary drinks, appetizers, and even dessert. After a few sips of a delicious Colada concoction or sodas respectively, adults and sprouts were inclined to forgive the long wait and settled down to a fun dinner of great food and lots of laughter.
The long wait before being seated was at least not dull. The front of the restaurant is a good-sized store selling much rain forest themed merchandise from key chains and refrigerator magnets to stuffed animals of the rain forest and Frisbees. Even batteries for cameras about to run out of juice were available. And if that wasn't enough, you could listen to Tracy Tree do her animatronic spiel about rain forest preservation, watch a spotted leopard lounging on a branch as its tail swung below, or even toss a penny in a wishing pool. If none of those appeal to you, you can be mesmerized by the myriad of tropical fish swimming up and over your head in the arch-shaped aquarium which leads to the restaurant proper.
Back to the food… The hungry sprouts pounced on cheese sticks, while we enjoyed an upgraded appetizer platter rightfully dubbed Awesome. It included chicken strips, calamari, mini chimichangas, and a delicious crab dip and tortilla chips.
Chicken strips, hot dogs, and mini-pizzas were the meal of choice for the various sprouts. Although the menu was quite extensive, when our waiter described the shrimp special nearly all of us chose it for our meal - and we were not disappointed. How could we go wrong with shrimp scampi, crab-stuffed shrimp, and coconut shrimp, all accompanied by a rice pilaf and a warm coleslaw with red cabbage, carrot strips, and even raisins.
We were getting quite full, but since the management was kind enough to offer us dessert, we made an effort. During the course of dinner, we heard the wait staff coming through the restaurant yelling "VOLCAAAAANO!" When we looked, they were carrying large plates with something mounded high on it and a lit sparkler sticking out of the top. Imagine our delight when the waiter came to our table bearing three Volcanoes. And what's in a volcano? This one was a huge mound of vanilla ice cream surrounded by three large wedges of fudgey brownie leaned up against the ice cream like a volcano. That is covered by a large dollop of whipped cream which is in turn drizzled with hot fudge sauce and topped with the sparkler. And we demolished three of them!
Rain Forest Café is a chain with locations around the country, some more accessible than others. Its theme makes it popular for large groups and families with children so delays are almost inevitable, but if you're willing to stick it out, it's really a fun dining experience.
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