Matt and I finally visited a restaurant that’s new to us that we’ve been talking about for a while: Tusker House! We made a reservation for Donald’s Safari Breakfast, and on the day we planned on going, our options were something like 8:35 or 10:50. Knowing we wanted to sleep in before starting our adventure, we chose the latter. Apart from being able to enjoy breakfast items (and we were assured we’d still be able to when the lunch changed over at 11), we were also able to sample some of the lunch items as well!
At the check-in podium, we saw the menu of some of the items that would be awaiting us inside the restaurant. We were given a pager and directed around the corner to another podium, where we were told to stand in line for a picture with Safari Donald (this is the ONLY photo op with Donald; he is not in the restaurant for his own breakfast ;)). There were several people ahead of us, and our pager went off about a minute after getting in the line. We were both famished and crazy parched, so we opted to be seated instead of waiting for a photo we weren’t going to buy. You’re still my favorite, Don! Maybe next time! 🙂
We were walked through the huge, open buffet area, through one of the dining rooms and into another, tucked away at a 4-seater in the corner. We spotted a couple dining at a 2-top and were pleased about the extra space.
After what seemed like an eternity (around 1o minutes – hey, that’s a LOT when you’re thirsty!), our server arrived to take our drink order. “Waaaa…terrrrrrrr…” I choked out, as if I had been crawling through the dessert for days. “Diet Coke …And a Bloody Mary,” said Matt, not skipping a beat. Safari Daisy was making her rounds at the time, and our server asked if we wanted to wait for pictures of her. “No thanks, we’re hungry,” we replied, as we nearly knocked over our own chairs making a bee-line for the buffet. Okay, I’m exaggerating about the chair thing. 😉
So we headed up to the buffet, and while Matt got in line, I grabbed pictures of the stations. The center station in the above is where you’ll find pastries, donuts and such. More photos of the other stations below. After taking the pictures and getting a plate of food, I headed back to the table, only to find no drinks had arrived. Matt arrived about a minute after me, and was not happy about this. When our server arrived, she apologized for the wait, but the bartender had “just arrived.” and gestured to the window. Lo and behold, outside was Dawa Bar. Soooo, who makes the “Signature” Bloody Marys and Mimosas prior to 11am? And why couldn’t the water and Diet Coke be brought in the interim? Anyway… We also wanted to start eating, but our server was adamant that Daisy, whom we had missed while getting food, return to our table for photos.
As for the “Signature” Bloody Mary, It was vodka and whatever standard Bloody Mary mix you’ll find on property, likely Finest Call, and not even the spicy version. Nothing to doctor it up, and the only garnish was a lime wedge (which Matt removed prior to the photo). It was standard and safe, but okay.
On to the food! Here’s a look at the buffet stations, but at this point it was more of a brunch with breakfast food as well as lunch items. Please note that I don’t think the signs had been swapped out on some of the stations that featured both lunch and breakfast items. Click for larger!
For my first plate, I had Cape Malay Curry Chicken, Jasmine Rice, Beef Bobotie,
Seasonal Vegetable Quiche, Bacon, and Tater Tots. The bacon was the thin-cut “Disney Standard” you find on buffets or as sides at breakfast. The tots were great; crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside. The Chicken Curry was reminiscent of what I enjoyed at Rose & Crown with a nice spice but with little heat, and tender pieces of chicken. The rice was unfortunately undercooked and clumped together. The beef bobotie was quite good flavor-wise, but texturally, the non-beef portions were a bit spongy. The quiche fell a bit flat for me as well.
On Matt’s first plate, he had Bacon, Spiced Corn Beef Hash, Mickey Waffle, Cheese Blintz with Apple Topping, Seasonal Vegetable Quiche, Carved Ham & Beef, and Sausage. He didn’t care for the Spiced Corn Beef Hash, but his heavily-buttered Mickey Waffle made up for that! The blintz’ texture wasn’t pleasing to him, but the apples he added on top “saved it.” Everything else was okay.
For my second plate, I loaded up on Fruit, Green Bean & Red Onion Salad, Tunisian Couscous salad, and a Strawberry Turnover. Everything on this plate was quite good. I really enjoyed the couscous’ seasoning and it was well-prepared. The turnover seemed like one of the massed produced ones you find packaged in your supermarket’s bakery, but I liked the crunch of the sugar crystals on top. The fruit was fresh, and the green bean salad was probably one of our favorite items we tried. The beans tasted farmers market fresh. The light dressing on red onions complemented them nicely. When Matt got up for his second plate, he even picked some up.
Matt returned with his second plate filled with Curried Rice with Golden Raisins, Orzo Salad, Tunisian Couscous Salad, Green Bean & Red Onion Salad, and Banana-Cinnamon Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce. The only thing Matt didn’t care for on this plate was the orzo since it was a bit undercooked. The rice was delicious, and as for the Banana-Cinnamon Bread Pudding with Vanilla Sauce? Amazing. His only “complaint” was that it had walnuts in it, as he’s not a fan of any sort of nut-addition to food. But, yeah, that was some gooood stuff.
At this point, our server had returned to clear our plates and asked if we were finished. I kind of wanted to go up and get a plate of that bread pudding myself, but they were clearly working on clearing out the remaining breakfast diners to make way for the noon reservations, despite lunch starting at 11am and a few freshly-sat tables settling in. Plus, this bird had been staring at us all meal.
Overall, the breakfast was pretty good. Some hits, a few misses, and we didn’t even get a chance to truly try everything. There were some service flaws, but nothing to deter us from returning. It’s no breakfast buffet from The Wave, which is more suitable to our personal tastes in terms of experience, but once we got some food in us, we began to have a much better time. There’s a lot of energy here thanks to the characters, and there are plenty of kid-friendly options on the buffet line. Dinner might be more our speed personally (no characters at that meal). If you enjoy character meals, are looking sample some African-inspired food, and relax from the heat of Animal Kingdom for a while, Tusker House fits the bill.
Have you been to Tusker House? Which meal do you prefer? Do like prefer the high energy character experience or prefer a quieter experience? Let us know!