an unplanned lunch at Sanaa with our niece

This dining experience took place on September 24, 2014

The three of us had spent our morning on the Backstage Safari at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (more on that to come next week). We had planned to go to Sanaa for Lunch with an Animal Specialist on Saturday (more on that next week too) however, when we finished our tour, we were all very hungry and since you can typically get into Sanaa as walk-ups (one of the few places that will still do that at Walt Disney World, Thank you Sanaa) we decided to give it a shot. Plus, they have LAMB on their lunch menu.

We started with the Appetizer Sampler (we skipped the excellent Indian-Style Bread Service because we knew that would be part of the Lunch with an Animal Specialist). The lamb kefta sliders were good, the salty feta cheese was especially appreciated by our little group. The Chana Tikki was just a bit bland and strange, the texture wasn’t what we expected (sort of like hummus with chick peas mixed in), I expected that they would have been a bit crispier on the edges. The potato and pea samosas were good as always. There were three accompaniments – a jicama slaw (not very vinegary or spicy), the mango chutney (a little spicier and quite tasty), and the cucumber raita (this was a huge hit with Nevie).

Nevie comments: Everything was great, the Lamb Kefta slider and the Potato and Pea samosas were my favorite. The Chana Tikki was a bit dry and had a weird texture on the tongue.

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Appetizer Sampler for Two: Potato and Pea Samosas, Chana Tikki (spiced chickpea cakes with tomato chutney), and Lamb Kefta Sliders

I decided to order something I’d never seen before; Chicken Chaat and Bhatura. Luckily, the new menus at Sanaa offer a lot more descriptions than we’ve seen in the past and I was able to figure out that Chicken Chaat was a stew and Bhatura was a bread. I did expect more than the slaw and chickpea salad as the “Chef’s Accompaniments” but by this point, I was getting full and didn’t really need them to fill in any empty spots. I shared the bhatura with Nick and Nevie, we all liked the soft and squishy texture of the bread and it was delicious dipped in the broth of the chicken stew.

At $11.99, Nick and I decided that I’d hit the lunch jackpot – both value-wise and flavor-wise. This is definitely something the two of us would order again. The Sauvignon Blanc paired with this dish was quite nice too.

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Chicken Chaat and Bhatura with Chef’s Accompaniments

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chicken chaat & bhatura (bread)

Nieve ordered the lamb kefta burger – the presentation and accompaniments/sauces are different from the small burgers on the appetizer menu. She really enjoyed this, especially the tamarind sauce. Unfortunately, she was getting full too! So half of the burger was eaten with bun, then the bun was discarded and we helped her finish the burger. The roasted potatoes were a combination of sweet potatoes (although I think they may have been true yams because the flavor was a bit different from sweet potatoes) and white potatoes (which we from the Carolinas grew up calling “irish potatoes”). The wine pairing worked well for Nevie, she likes her reds – she had the Goats do Roam red blend. Before lunch, she had a glass of Chakalaka on our recommendation (Thanks Lisa & Andy!)

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Grilled Lamb Kefta with Tamarind and Cucumber Raita with Roasted Potatoes

Nick ordered the Sustainable Fish with the wine pairing (a Chenin Blanc). The fish was good but the curry sauce was extremely mild and downright nondescript. For the price, this was not a good deal at all – it was priced like an entree at bluezoo for dinner and frankly, it didn’t measure up.

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Sustainable Fish (Corvina) served with seasonal vegetables and a mild curry

Now, we’ve rarely been disappointed with the food at Sanaa – but, honestly, the service is spotty. Our server started out quite attentive and informative. But then when the food started coming, um not so much. We requested the wine pairings when we ordered our entrees and the food was delivered before the wine AND the person bringing the wine didn’t know which white went with which entree (in the end, she got it wrong and the manager brought us two more glasses of wine). There was also a real lack of education and explanation – Nick asked if the sustainable fish changes based on what Sanaa gets, why doesn’t the wine change? It took quite a conversation with the manager to finally understand that they consistently order very mild, non fishy tasting fish for the sustainable fish. While we agree that corvina fits that bill, tilapia would not (it typically tastes a bit muddy).

So, we had a lovely lunch food-wise… And the service was spotty… It won’t stop us from going back to Sanaa… but I really wish they could get the service delivery stuff settled (Observation: they’ve had the same GM for a couple of years and the same Chef even longer… no excuses).

Nevie comments: Unfortunately, they somehow could not get the wine out with the entrees at the same time. Not really sure what happened, but the entrees were getting cold and there was not anything to drink with them. My burger was delicious but it was hard to pick up the lamb flavor through all the spices added to it. Nick’s fish was good but cold by the time he got his wine. Nora really won this one with her chicken dish. She added some of house-made hot sauce to it which gave it a great and welcomed kick. The bread dipped in her curry sauce was the best thing at that meal! We did not get dessert here since we were all very full from the appetizers and entrees. The food was very good but the service was something that definitely needs work.

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