by Sarah Peterson
Hidden on the third floor of the Mall of America is one of the most colorful, interesting, interactive and delicious places to eat: The Rainforest Café. When you first walk up to the café, you are greeted by a pond that is filled with intricate details to make it look like a real waterfront in a rainforest, including fog and lush greenery. Right above it is the Rainforest Café sign surrounded by sculptures of animals such as tree frogs, a gorilla and a parrot.
Once you step inside, you are instantly greeted by the “Peace, Love and Frogs” t-shirts that are on display in the gift shop. Inside you can pick up t-shirts, cups, sweatshirts, colorful rocks, stuffed animals and much more. It is very hard to walk away empty handed. Once your tour guide has seated you, you are instantly surrounded by the sights and sounds of the rainforest. Gorillas are yapping, tigers are roaring, and every twenty minutes or so the whole restaurant erupts in a “tropical storm,” which includes strobe-light lightning and aggressive thunder. The animated animals that are tucked away all around the Café erupt with noise. The trees shake from the gorillas, and the elephant in the back corner starts shaking his gigantic ears.
Once seated on wooden chairs that were tucked under tables decorated with flower and animal patterns, your tour guide comes around to take your order. I started with a strawberry lemonade. Though it sounds ordinary, it is a lemonade like no other. It is so refreshing—there are actual pieces of strawberries swirling around my glass as I take sip after sip.
After a few minutes, I ordered the Rasta Pasta, which did not disappoint. Noodles covered in an Alfredo; garlic sauce were paired with chicken, roasted red peppers, broccoli and spinach. As if the pasta wasn’t enough, on the side came a piece of bread that was delicious—I would have been satisfied with just that. It was flavored with a seasoning that made a nice crust on the top of the bread, and which was just protecting the melt-in-your-mouth center.
Taking your time eating is something that you will want to do when you come to the Rainforest Café, because wherever you look, you see something that you hadn’t noticed before—like the giant butterfly flapping its wings by the front exit, the carpet that looks like there are jungle leaves spread across the floor, or the intricate details that are carved in the tree in the center of the restaurant, serving as the focal point of the whole rainforest experience.
Finally, dessert came and blew my mind. It was called Chocolate Indulgence, and it wasn’t cheap. But when it was placed in front of me, I knew why. This dessert could have easily served four or five people. It was layers of ice-cream, gooey fudge and whipped topping. Intermixed in these layers were a chocolate cookie crust and chocolate candy pieces. All of this was then drizzled with hot fudge that brought the whole dessert together. It was the richest dessert I have ever eaten, but it was so delicious that I couldn’t help but take bite after bite.
At the end of the visit, I got a to-go box and exited the rainforest happy, energized and absolutely stuffed from the amazing food.
The Rainforest Café is one of the best places I have ever eaten. However, it is a little expensive. So if students don’t mind spending a little more money for great food and a cool experience, the Rainforest Café is worth giving a try.
306 South Avenue (Level 3)
Bloomington, MN 55425