After our “African-Inspired Disney-Designed” tour, we decided to have dinner at Sanaa. We went to the check-in desk and were able to get an ADR for a 5:00 dinner. We took our buzzer and went to wait in the hallway (away from the raucous children). We were seated soon, at a window table.
During our earlier tour, we were told about the Hidden Mickey at the center of the table; sometimes it can be difficult to see because it’s covered with the candle.
We explained to Danielle (she’s been our server before) that we were very hungry, and asked for two Bud Lights and the Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Cauliflower. While we waited for these, we enjoyed the zebras out the window
Nick looked down at the menu and when he looked back up, the zebras were much closer.
We LIKE spicy food and that’s one of the reasons that we keep returning to Sanaa even though the food can be hit or miss and the service can be good or just “eh”… This shrimp appetizer didn’t disappoint on the spicy front (not sure, but we think this is new to menu from our last dinner at Sanaa).
The dish was well composed with a nice amount of spiciness; there were 7 to 9 shrimp. We couldn’t figure out what the yellow stuff is around the edges, nick thought it might have been pureed cauliflower with saffron and nora thought it might have been some sort of starch.
We each started with a taste of the cauliflower and were concerned that the spiciness might overpower the shrimp (the cauliflower stood up to the sauce just fine). The shrimp were not overcooked and it was detectable that we were eating shrimp. While we aren’t big fans of mint leaves in our food, these hit the correct note and added to the dish.
Nora decided that she liked this enough that if she combined this with the bread service and a side of vegetables, it could easily be a full meal for her.
It is so cool that the animals are just right there for you to enjoy.
We ordered two entrees and split them.
The Vegetarian Sampler: Spicy Peas, chickpeas, and potatoes; Basmati rice; and Vindaloo-style vegetables + Sula Chenin Blanc
The Tandoori Lamb with Five Grain Pilaf, sauce, and apple raisin chutney + Rustenburg John X Merriman Bordeaux Blend
Our food came out pretty quickly, then we sat and waited and waited and waited for our wine. Finally, Danielle stopped and asked if everything was okay and we let her know that we wanted the wine with the food (that’s pretty much the whole point of food and wine pairings…). So she went and discovered that they were out of the John X Merriman… She suggested that we get Edgebaston The Pepper Pot (red blend), we agreed and then we requested that our meals be redone because by now they were cold.
Of course, now we had wine and no food… So what did we think of the wine without food?
- nora thought it smelled of grass and mineral, the taste without food was slightly sweet and rather yum
- nick smelled pears crossed with apples (neither pear nor apple), the taste was somewhat pleasing
The Pepper Pot
- nora smelled rich cabernet scents, the taste without food included some tannins but not too much, pleasant
- nick thought that it smelled sweet and enjoyed the flavors more than he anticipated
This was disappointing. Let’s start with the Vindaloo-style vegetables – in a word “lacking” – something was missing, the scents were tempting, but the flavor was just blah. And the spicy pea stew – it was “too much” – the sauce was just too something, the best way nora can describe it is that it seemed overcrowded with ground spices making it have a muddy texture and taste. Worse yet, the potatoes were not fully cooked, nor was it heated through.
The chenin blanc was fine with the vegetable dishes – to a small extent, the food smoothed out any overt grassiness.
We struggled a bit with the lamb tandoori:
- it wasn’t as lamby as we’ve come to expect lamb to be (nick said it could have been any four legged animal flesh),
- it was very difficult to eat in the small deep bowl (and if we had dumped it out on the plate it would have cooled too rapidly and we would have lost the meat juices)
- neither of us cared for the sauce (just didn’t like the flavor and the texture was muddy again)
At one point the manager came by to see if things were okay. Nick pointed out that the service of this dish was problematic… she suggested pouring it out (see above)… nick suggested that grilled meat should be served with a steak knife (duh) & once she brought a steak knife it became much easier to eat.
The lamb itself was okay, the pilaf was a bit chewy but not undercooked, and the chutney was great. Nick thought that the chutney would be better served on a cheese plate than served with lamb, nora agrees. The lamb tandoori is not likely to be something we order again.
As an experiment, near the end of the meal, nick tried the chenin blanc with the chutney – expecting something good because he liked both of these – Oooo! Sour combination! Exactly the opposite of what he expected.
Danielle is knowledgeable about the food and very capable of answering our questions (ex: what’s in the vindaloo? does it contain green peppers?). She’s also a certified sommelier and her suggestion of The Pepper Pot was spot on.
Roasted meat should be served with a steak knife (don’t care if it’s roasted chicken, lamb, beef, or wildebeest).
It can be fun to try wines with food.
Yes, we’ll go back to Sanaa – we’ve decided that our food selections here tend to be hit or miss (we won’t be ordering either of those vegetarian dishes again though)