We’ve had dinner a few times at Jiko – The Cooking Place at The Animal Kingdom Lodge in Walt Disney World and we’ve enjoyed their Wine Tasting event as well. Each experience was wonderful and I would highly recommend the Wine Tasting (typically on Wednesday afternoons). It was a lot of fun and very educational.
On our latest trip, we wanted to enjoy a great bottle of South African wine and explore a variety of appetizers. We were concerned since we did not have reservations and expected the restaurant to be completely booked. We took a chance anyway. When we showed up with our 11 year old daughter and 16 year old son, we explained that we wanted to just have some drinks and appetizers. We were offered a spot at the bar overlooking the sous chefs preparing appetizers and flat breads. This worked out perfect since it was a relaxed environment and we could watch how each dish was prepared.
Looking at the menu, we picked the African-spiced Fire-roasted Chicken (chicken with red pepper) and Pickled Artichoke (my son recently decided he is a Vegetarian) Flatbreads.
We also selected the Taste of Africa (African inspired dips with Naan) and Artisanal Cheese Selection.
Jiko’s has the largest South African wine selection in North America and we have always been directed to a great wine to enjoy with our meal. Jiko has changed their wine list to categorize the wines by the characteristics rather than by varietal or region which makes it easier to navigate and have a more productive discussion on what wine you would like. It has been a while since I ‘ve had a good Pinotage and the 2009 Kanonkop Estate Pinotage was recommended. The Kanonkop Pinotage was extremely smooth for a 2009 and full bodied. It was a great accompaniment to our wide variety of dishes.
We thoroughly enjoyed our selection of great dishes as well as watching the sous chefs’ artistry. Throughout our meal, we were having conversations with the chefs from preparation techniques to their experiences as chefs at Disney. One interesting point is that the brick oven used to cook the flat breads was at 750 degrees Fahrenheit so the flatbread pizzas did not take long to cook and the bottoms were nice and crispy. In the end, we all enjoyed our meal and there was plenty to go around.
I would highly recommend dinner at Jiko or enjoying a variety of appetizers. One benefits to the appetizer approach is that you get to explore many great flavors at a price of about $10 a person before drinks. We have already made reservations for our next visit in September. We can’t wait!