Monday, September 25, 2006

Jungle Japes

My son Frankie and I had a great day together yesterday. We walked far and wide across London under Indian summer skies, taking in everything from Pokémon in Forbidden Planet to mummies at the British Museum.

We started out with lunch at the Rainforest Café, a huge tourist trap located in Piccadilly. I don’t know what made me suggest it, as it’s the kind of global franchise I generally loathe, but Frankie seemed enchanted by the fibre glass jungle setting, fake waterfalls and tank full of tropical fish we sat by. The service was also good, if a bit mechanically good-natured. The waitress made a special fuss of Frankie because it was his birthday. This included standing him on his chair and insisting that everyone around us sang happy birthday to him.

The food, however, was extremely average – my steak was utterly tasteless and Frankie’s meatballs could have come out of a tin. We also discovered the downside of being sat by the fish tank – dozens of kids and parents trooping around us to look at the aquatic wonders within. I had to have words with one four year old lad who tried to use my chair as a climbing frame to get a better view. He was German, so couldn’t understand a word I said, but my tone made him cry, which was a satisfactory outcome.

All in all, the Rainforest Café is the kind of soulless experience that you try to make the best of because you think your kids won’t see the cracks in the fibreglass trees and the regimentation behind the friendliness of the staff. For me, it evokes a world where the real rainforests have been destroyed and the fake jungles of franchise restaurants are the only distorted historical record.

6 comments:

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Tarzan said...

The trumpeting elephant and random tropical thunderstorms had my nephew diving for cover under the table.

Tristan said...

Frankie was unmoved by the tropical thunder storms, but he was delighted by the 'rain' water feature. I dunno, maybe I'm too cynical about these places...

tarzan said...

I love 'em and now won't eat anywhere without animatronic mammals and an abundance of plastic shrubbery.

Tristan said...

Don't forget the pleasure of being waited upon by immigrant youth in khaki on the minimum wage...

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