One of the newest restaurants out at Walt Disney World is also one of its most high-end. And unlike other fancy options like California Grill in the Contemporary Resort, this one is located inside a theme park.
Tiffins, which opened about a year ago in the Discovery Island area of the Animal Kingdom park, sits right on the edge of what will become Avatar land on May 27. The name refers to an Indian word for a type of container used to carry food.
The restaurant is open for both lunch and dinner, but don't be fooled by the T-shirts and flip-flops of the patrons: This is a splurge.
Like everything at Disney, the 252-seat restaurant aims to be immersive, starting with three themed dining rooms: The Trek Gallery celebrates Asia, the Safari Gallery is all about Africa, and the largest, the Grand Gallery, pays homage to the animals featured in the park as part of the Disney Conservation Fund. Throughout each of the rooms, there is a lot of travel-themed artwork, plus journals and sketches from those who worked to create Animal Kingdom. Diners leave with a postcard-sized sketch from a Disney Imagineer.
The menu is similarly themed. The adjoining Nomad Lounge is a real looker, with indoor and outdoor seating plus a gorgeous patio on which to sip a cocktail like the Annapurna Zing (gin, passion fruit puree, mint, lime juice and ginger beer, $8.50) and eat from a short menu of small plates. Also notable is a house beer, the Kungaloosh Spiced Excursion Ale Draft ($8.75), a dark ale brewed with sorghum.
Inside, things are more upscale, with entrees starting at $29. The restaurant does a good job of making you forget that you're dining in a theme park, with servers who are informed but not pushy and some very solid food. The Black-Eyed Pea Fritters, with yogurt and a peppadew puree ($11), make for a hearty appetizer; a complimentary sweet foccacia served with pomegranate olive oil renders the Tiffins Signature Bread Service ($10) unnecessary.
Entree-wise, there is a lot of variety, from the Wagyu Strip Loin and Braised Short Rib ($53) and the Berkshire Pork Tenderloin with a tamale and mole sauce ($39) to the Grilled Swordfish with carrot-coconut puree ($42) and Roasted Vegetable Curry ($29). The Duo of Lamb ($41), which contains a loin and a house-made sausage, came with a striking "leek ash" coating one side of the plate. For dessert, the Lime Cheesecake ($10) isn't your sweetest option, but it may be the best, the custardy cheesecake given texture by an almond-sesame tuile.