Boma Restaurant located in Animal Kingdom Lodge, Disney World, Florida
Animal Kingdom located at Disney World, Florida, was the least favorite of mine of all the park themes. However, the Boma Restaurant at the Animal Kingdom Lodge was a wonderful treat for our family. It is touted as giving you the flavors of Africa. As you approach the lodge it appears huge, as are most of Disney hotels. This one is dark and almost mysterious. You walk in the front doors and enter almost a cathedral size lobby with a huge window at the far end. The ceiling opens upward multiple stories once you are a ways into the lobby. The floor space of this lobby is immense but cut up with areas of seating that are done as separate somewhat private areas like a posh library, some with screens to mark off and provide some amount of privacy. I thought this was really neat to allow family groups to get together when they wished to wait for family members to arrive, plan the day’s events or just hang out. Even though this was during spring break at many schools and the resort was full of people there were many of these checkerboard like family congregation areas still empty. This would be a fun place to take a book (and flashlight) and read a good magazine or book. It took me a while to walk around this lobby and take in the really unusual interior decor. Further back into the lobby from where you enter but to the right I found a cartoon artist offering pretty good cartoon like sketches for anyone wanting to pay. Just back and against the wall is a gentle ramp taking you down to the Boma Restaurant below. If you stay on the main floor you have opportunities to look down into the bar and restaurant areas. Keep in mind that this whole building is done in dark colors and dark woods. You almost want to carry a flashlight with you (just kidding). Our tour guide, Janice Edwards got us to this restaurant way ahead of our reservations so we went to the bar and ordered some drinks. From the bar you can see more of the restaurant but what was interesting was the bar itself had a series of TV sets along the back of the bar showing different TV stations, typically news. We sat at a table with nice chairs and it was quite relaxing. We finally were called to our table, which actually turned out to be a booth along the buffet line. Most other seating was at tables but booths were strung along the buffet line in a curved line. Looking overhead at the ceiling the room had a variety of ceiling lamps. One type appeared to be vertical dark cans that appeared to have beaded pipe cleaners protruding down from the light opening to act as light diffusers. These “pipe cleaners” were twisted into the light beam and the beads became illuminated. The ceiling had large painted, printed, fabric in various shades, many close to being triangle in shape but many did not come to a point but were cut off before the sides came together. The cloth appeared to be a duck like fabric. I asked one of the young persons who was standing by the reception area and appeared that she might be from Africa what the fabric was and she spelled this word out on my note pad “sisweswe”. Her printing was perfect so I am sure I got the word down correctly but when I did an Internet search, nothing came up.
Many of the booths at Walt Disney World are cushioned like long booth benches. On one side of the table would be the booth bench and chairs on the opposite side of the table. This was the case at this restaurant too. The women in our group sat on the cushioned long seat with their backs to the buffet line and my son and I sat in the opposing chairs, which was nice as I could see the cooks behind the buffet line working. Some restaurants like to put the cooks, the chef’s, out for the public to see working. Wolfgang Puck does this. Because the cooks need to move food quickly to the buffet line, this arrangement made a lot of sense. No need to plow through a door to get the food from kitchen to the line. It was really nice to see how extensive the kitchen was and how clean everything looked. I bet the cooks had to be told to keep everything pristine as the public could see everywhere into the kitchen. The kitchen extended back from the buffet line in an uneven fashion as the buffet line curved and this offered more or less room for the kitchen behind the line spaced from the back kitchen wall. This buffet line was only one line. To move more people too and from getting the food a number of Disney restaurant buffet lines are mirrored into two lines. Be aware that you might think the mirroring is exact. It is not. We found one or two items on one line and not another, so it is best to check both buffet lines if you do not want to make sure you do not miss any food item. If you are into sampling as much food as possible and don’t want to leave the restaurant in pain, I have a tip for you. Take small portions, I mean really small portions. Remember that you can go back as many times as you wish. The person who washes the dishes is going to hate you for doing this, going back and forth getting a new dish for small portions but remember, what matters is this, you are not doing the dishes. Here is a good example, at this restaurant; I was most presently surprised to find a whole selection of soups. I dished out only a half ladle into each bowl and when we got back to the table our group of people compared notes as to what we thought was the spice in this or that soup and which ones we ranked as better. I have another tip for you, grab some bread and in-between eating each food item, take a small taste of bread to render your palate back to normal if you wish to gain any unique and more complete appreciation of flavor from new dishes you sample. Another tip, take your time eating. Try to notice how each dish tastes at the beginning, when you first taste, and then compare the flavor out to the end. Some items will pop with flavor at the beginning while others do not or have a consistent flavor from start to finish. Some times the flavor changes a bit while you are still eating the dish. Some times I can almost chart the intensity and changes of flavors on paper. My point is, when you are dining at a good restaurant, where the dishes are well conceived and executed you are more likely to get a new appreciation if you take your time and notice the flavors and textures you are eating all along the continuum of time it takes you to have your dinner. The reason I am telling you all this is this is one restaurant where it is fun to do this wine tasting type of food eating. If you rush though your meal at this restaurant, you are missing out on a wonderful experience. The dishes here are very different and some are very, very good.
Soup reviews in order of being scored by our party:
Mulligatawny soup rocks, utterly fantastic. It had a rich flavor and a bit sweet.
Mushroom soup was our second pick. It was simply outstanding. It was a tad bit salty, good mushroom flavor and nicely robust.
Potato bacon was our third pick. This soup was very creamy, nice bacon flavor, perfect blend of potato and bacon, not over stated.
Palaver stew had a strong pepper like flavor coming from, partly curry and paprika. It was slightly pasty.
Seafood gumbo was our last pick. It did have a strong flavor but a bit odd and at times we detected a pasty texture.
Bread: They offered Mealie bread, a corn bread from South Africa, but we decided not to review it, as it was not remarkable in any way for us.
Main dish reviews:
Bobotie was down right interesting, different, fun to try.
Pepper pot pork loin was very good, had a mild sauce, meat a bit dry under the sauce.
Crusted prime rib was really moist, red in color, definitely not over cooked and had a very mild flavor. We have had prime rib now at a number of buffet lines and this was the best. The chef cutting the prime rib did start a new piece of meat and that was beneficial for me as it came to me moist, did not dry out under the heat lamps. The crust flavor was mild. (Note: Claim Jumper, found in California trumps this crust flavor by a mile.)
Banana bread pudding with chocolate rum sauce was very good. The pudding flavor overwhelms the rum sauce nicely.
Chocolate mousse truffle was good.
Zebra Dome seemed to be typical American fare, a small pastry, quite safe and good.
M’Hencha, nutty, very nutty
Melk Tart had the consistency of angle cake. Janice Edwards told me it had a cinnamon flavor, because by the time I had this, all the other dishes blew my taste buds away.
Meringue Tart, tasted sour, a bit odd flavor but as I sat back and reflected on the taste it grew on me.
My son had a birthday button clipped to his shirt and the waiter spotted it and took special care of him and giving him a special desert. The waiter’s attention was a low-key affair, perfect for a teen-age boy.
Review conclusion: This restaurant is one of the top places to eat at Disney World, Florida in our opinion. We love to try new dishes and this place gave us that opportunity but even better, the dishes were very, very good. I especially recommend that you sample all of the soups; a real treat and the deserts were right up there for being wonderful. And let us not forget the setting. This restaurant has some class for being a buffet style restaurant.