Hello and welcome to another food review! I recently went to Orlando for a work trip and got to spend a little time at Walt Disney World. I love when work brings me to the happiest place on earth. As some of you may know a new table service restaurant opened in December at the Magic Kingdom called the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd Skipper Canteen. Currently this restaurant is only accepting same day reservations so make sure and secure your reservation early in the morning. You really don’t want to miss out!
Ambiance: The themeing here is on point. From the moment you walk under the sign to the moment you leave you are in the operating headquarters of the Jungle Cruise. On the second floor of the restaurant there are several offices and occasionally you can hear shouting from the manager’s office (the hostess skipper will warn you about this) which is kinda fun. There are artifacts all throughout the restaurant with some off-shot dining rooms with extra special themeing. I could see one where you walked through a bookcase to enter but alas I was seated in the main hall.
Service: Like I said before the themeing is on point. The hostess skipper who takes you to the table is full of jokes and points out the highlights of the restaurant (I wont spoil this one for you) and in Jungle Cruise fashion, full of cheesy jokes. Next up is the server who again, has some fantastically corny jokes. If you come to the Skipper Canteen expect to have fun and play along with your skipper…I mean that’s why you came in the first place right! I didn’t go on the Jungle Cruise this trip but I felt like I did just from eating here. The food came out quickly and was hot. My only complaint is my server had quite a few tables and did not refill my water the whole time I was there. The bussers (I think they were bussers anyway) didn’t refill drinks either they just brought out food. The restaurant is still pretty new so hopefully they will work this out.
Eats: Its food time (no alcohol is served here which I think is a total missed opportunity)! I was prepared for a review this time and took a few pictures of the menu, which I asked, is not changing anytime soon. There may be some seasonality changes but for the most part will remain the same for the foreseeable future.
I had about all the sugary drinks I could handle for one day so I stuck with water…river water to be exact (inset Zika jokes here). My skipper recommended the falafel to start but they were spicy so I decided to start with the S.E.A Shu Mai (mixed meat dumplings). I love dumplings and have heard other food bloggers say how good they were. Before the appetizer came out there was bread service.
An African style bread served with an African honey, the name of which I cant remember he said it so fast. I liked that this was a different take on the bread service but the bread loaf itself but pretty rock hard and a little stale. The honey did have a different flavor but I think its just regular mass-produced honey with some spices added to it. Appetizer time!
There were 5 dumplings in a steam pot served with a side of soy sauce. The dumplings were very tender and cooked to perfection. The sesame seeds were a nice touch and the dumplings were slightly spicy which I was not expecting. I didn’t eat them all because that was too many for an appetizer for 1 (but a great size for sharing, no complaints about the serving size) but I would recommend them. I love dumplings and try them at almost every restaurant that has them on the menu. Now for the main event…I mean course. Skipper recommended the sustainable fish that is locally sourced from Vero Beach and is served within 24 hours of being caught. Count me in, plus that’s what I wanted to try anyway! Don’t worry its not piranha 🙂
Big pieces of fish, cooked perfectly and would have been fork tender but I had to cut through the skin. For those of you who don’t know, because I didn’t, you actually eat the skin because it adds an extra layer of flavor to the fish. I just recently found that out and have to say as weird as it seems the skin does add extra saltyness if not flavor. Weirds me out though. The fish was on the firmer side with a salty, slightly lemon flavor. I can definitely tell this was fresh. Having my fair share of bad fish this one definitely ranks on the top of fresh/tasty scale. I wish there were more veggies that were not carrots but on the whole this dish was pretty filling for fish. I would definitely order this again. Needless to say there were no survivors on my plate. I will say this dish was not as hot as I would have liked, it was almost room temp. Not sure if that’s just personal preference or perhaps the food runner was behind in bringing out orders, or maybe the food was made all at the same time and it was sitting under the food lamp until I was done with my appetizer. I’m not sure but I would have liked the dish to be a little warmer. Now for the real reason I didn’t finish all the dumplings…because I wanted to try dessert! There were a few unique desserts to choose from but ultimately I decided to go with the Coconut Bar with Pineapple-Basil Compote.
So pretty! The coconut cake was a little grainy in consistency so those coconut haters out there probably wont like this. The flavor was not overpowering and overall refreshing. I liked all the pineapple pieces and those which chocolate chip looking things were actually vanilla meringue! That was a nice texture surprise. All of the flavors paired very well together and I actually liked the meringue over the cream but more for a texture standpoint. My only comment is purely looks…such a small dessert should really be on a smaller plate. When the plate is too big it makes the dessert look sad. The dessert itself though I really enjoyed, it was light and fresh and didn’t make me feel like I was going to explode after eating it. Another recommend from me!
Overall: For a freshman restaurant this does very well. The menu is interesting and the food is cook expertly. What people will come here for though is the skippers. They are entertaining almost like having a dinner show without the high price point. I already know the menu will evolve and I say that mainly because the menu isn’t as extensive as I know many table service restaurants to be. I think this was done to gauge the success of certain items as well as the popularity of the location itself. While I wont come here on every visit like some restaurants I know and love the Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen will make its way into the rotation.
CHIME IN!!! Do you go to restaurants when they first open? What is your take on African inspired food? Have you been to the Skipper Canteen?