Out of the park we came – myself, my husband and daughter – searching for the entrance to the fabled Jungle, where all manner of beasts and monsters lurked. The impressive gate rose up before us and we entered with trepidation, yet strangley eager to discover what lay within.
We walked through the low-lit canopy and encountered a menagerie of beasts – a dinosaur, crocodile, orangutan and huge python. The humidity, luscious greenery and the waterfall all added to the sense of wonder – and our three-year-old daughter was thrilled. The dinosaur roared. Was it real? Later, we even got caught in a monsoon downpour on one of our many visits to the rainforest.
Inside, as much attention was given to the décor, with a variety of textures including carved stone, wood, bamboo, rope and carvings reminiscent of cave paintings and Aztec-style hieroglyphs. The Jungle definitely delivered on atmosphere. All the earthy colours were lifted by the bright green place mats. The attention to design and detail were obvious and it wasn’t just for the kids – the centrepiece open kitchen was another winning feature.
The menu reflected themes of prehistoric and ancient cultures with a Hunter and a Gatherer menu, and everything from kangaroo and camel meat to Scotland’s own fried Mars Bar!
The staff were very attentive and helpful from the moment we entered. One’s eyes only needed to flicker away from the table and someone was there with a smile, offering to help. The waitresses were lovely, bringing Amali plastic creatures to play with and, just as she was slurping her fresh fruit smoothie, they brought her a complementary blue slush drink. I wish they hadn’t but, hey, Amali was happy and clearly having a great time.
For starters my husband ordered the Dinosour Egg Drop, a Chinese-style chicken and egg drop soup with sweetcorn. I ordered the Spicy Sweet Shrimps – golden shrimps tossed in a fiery yet sweet chilli sauce. Joe’s soup was okay, tasty more with salt than flavour. My giant shrimps came impressively standing up like a tepee on a bed of salad – all three of them. They were battered with a pot of sweet chilli sauce for dipping. I bit straight through the batter into the shell and realised that only half of each shrimp was edible, so this grand entrance ended up as a modest starter.
We took our time to decide on a main course as there was so much to choose from. Amali had fish fingers and chips from the comprehensive children’s menu. Joe chose the Pad Thai noodles and I chose the Morrocan Grill – minced lamb meat balls with onion, capsicum, chilli, eggplant and garlic.
I should say at this point that I suffer from terrible food envy and always want what my husband chooses. The waiter told me that what I had ordered was only three meatballs on a skewer. I still assumed it came with the side dish and salad as it said on top of the page, but I was wrong. I got an empty plate with three meatballs, and some sad-looking pieces of red and yellow pepper on a skewer.
Where was the eggplant? Then came a bit of a surprise – a basket with battered fish and chips. Was this a Moroccan custom to have lamb and fish together? My meat balls were barely room temperature. I tried a bite of my husband’s tasty noodles – good but nothing spectacular. Still, I wanted to cry with envy.
Finally Joe persuaded me to ask about my basket of fish and chips – yes, there had been a misunderstanding and it was taken away. Whilst I was at it, I asked to exchange my meal completely. Without a moment’s hesitation, the waiter agreed and brought me back the menu. I went for a Jungle signature dish, their Butter Chicken. This saved the day. I had the tastiest meal on the table, lovely succulent chicken, delicious spices, and the best nan bread I have ever tried. Puffed, soft, crispy and glistening with butter!
In a better mood now, we finished our meal. My daughter was happy, dragging us to the jungle between courses and playing with the waitresses. I made sure I saved some room for the exciting-looking dessert menu. Having scored well with their signature dish we chose the signature dessert – the traditional Middle Eastern Um Ali milk pudding. This was delicious. Thoughtfully, they guessed we’re a family of sharers and brought three spoons and plates. Warming, soothing, creamy and sweet, it felt like a big fat aunty’s cuddle. With oohs and aahhs, we devoured it and finished our meal smiling.
I’m a believer in teaching my daughter how to behave in adult environments and have never been a fan of kids’ eateries. However, she really did have a great evening and there was nothing about the Jungle restaurant that was garish or painful for adults either. I enjoyed the night as much as her. There was as much to keep me looking around as there was to keep her entertained. This is not the place to come if you are a gourmet eater but if you select carefully from the menu, and I advise the signature meals which are marked, then it’s a great place for some tasty nosh and a family night out.
Great service, great fun for the kids.