The cafe at Franklin Mills is one of more than 20 Rainforest ventures. In 1994, a group of investors financed the first Rainforest Cafe at the Mall of America, near Minneapolis.
Sometimes, the wildest happenings at the Rainforest Cafe can be the kiddies - little ones fearlessly tossing dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets to the floor - and their parents - often temporarily stymied in their attempts to maneuver strollers around the tables and tropical foliage.
As expected, the staff appears well-trained in handling even the youngest diners, and the restaurant is equipped with the necessary furniture to accommodate them. A suitable menu is available for children 12 and under: Simply ask your safari guide (Rainforest language for your server).
The regular menu features a variety of modestly priced items - all with appropriate names, such as Paradise Pot Roast and Primal Steak - from pastas to salads, entrees, soups and sandwiches.
Paradise Pot Roast ($11.99) had fine components - juicy and tender slices of meat, rich garlic mashed potatoes, a medley of sauteed vegetables, and crisp-fried onions - but the excessive gravy turned the deep dish entree into a kind of soup.
On the other hand, the 14-ounce strip steak ($16.99) was perfectly grilled, tender and flavorful. This came with a marble-sized ball of basil butter, crisp waffle fries, and the sauteed veggie medley.
For appetizers, the chimi cha-cha ($7.99) wonton skins cupped a blend of black beans, citrus zest, corn kernels, roasted peppers and cheese. These were served with a fresh salsa. Huge strips of chicken breast called Caribe Coconut Chicken ($6.99) were dusted with coconut and fried golden brown; and Bimini Wings ($7.99) were greaseless, crisp, large and juicy.
Pizzas are prepared on thin flatbread. The version named It's Greek to Me! had a blend of cheeses, including feta, combined with chopped tomato, spinach, onion and Kalamata olives ($9.99). The ingredients were extremely well balanced, and the fragile shell remained intact in handling.
For dessert, Key lime pie ($4.99) and banana cheesecake ($4.99) made a perfect journey's end. There also are a full-service bar, coffee concoctions, and a shop with assorted memorabilia, from cups to shirts.
Franklin Mills mall,
1133 Franklin Mills Circle, off Interstate 95.
Open: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, to 9 p.m. Sundays.
Price range: Burgers $8.29 to $8.99, pastas $8.99 to $14.99, entrees $10.99 to $16.99.
Credit cards: Yes.
Nonsmoking section: No smoking permitted.
Atmosphere: Your typical rainforest.