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One of the most consistently delicious stops on the Walt Disney World trail, we recently had the pleasure of a lunch date with my parents at Downtown Disney’s Raglan Road.
Located right at the front of what is (kind of) Pleasure Island, the vibe from the Emerald Isle spills right onto the sidewalk and around the corner as you take in Raglan Road Pub and Restaurant, the adjacent Gift Shop, the Hole in the Wall watering hold, and Cookes of Dublin next door.
Even though we were there during Spring Break, we didn’t find early lunchtime to be too busy. We stopped in JUST before the restaurant switched to an updated menu, but luckily most of our choices can still be found amongst the new offerings.
You want authentic atmosphere? You got it. Much of the decor here is authentically Irish, and the bars themselves were shipped directly from Ireland.
The entrance to the restaurant is central, while there is outdoor seating to the left and a nifty gift shop to the right. If Raglan Road does have one shortcoming it would be that there aren’t many places to sit while waiting for your table. Fortunately, that wasn’t an issue for us that day.
The gift shop really is so cool! You feel like you’ve wandered right into a shop that was destined for Epcot’s World Showcase (had they ever built a separate Ireland Pavilion.)
Tons of Irish souvenirs and sauces from the restaurant are available here. This is also a nifty place to pick up some of Master Chef Kevin Dundon’s fantastic cookbooks, like Recipes that Work or Full On Irish, if you wanna recreate a little Raglan Road in your kitchen once you head home!
What you see in the restaurant itself really is a little slice of Ireland in the Florida sunshine. You’re surrounded by rich, dark woods and brass fixtures. The tile floors below your feet add to the feeling of antiquity, and the soaring heights of the domed main dining room, complete with cupola, are crowned with leaded stained glass — again, the work of Irish craftspeople. Just walking into Raglan Road is a beautiful experience, and it only gets better when you open your menu. But we’ll get to that in a sec.
With its two beautiful — and very large! — bars, Raglan Road is also a fantastic place to stop in just for a drink and some light bites!
There are PLENTY of draught beers on tap, which makes this a very happy stop for the beer lover in your life.
They’ve also begun offering a wide selection of local craft beers, which is a really fun addition to the mix. There are several selections available on tap from Orlando Brewing Company, and they are all organic!
While there is no live music during lunch, you MUST come to Raglan Road for an evening visit if you’ve never been. The music and dancing are stellar, and the crowd really gets into it. It’s a pretty rockin’ – well, lilting and rockin’ – party.
There’s also a “music room,” where no music actually takes place. 😉 This is just another dining room, but a snazzy one to be sure.
Generally, all of the seating around here is pretty interesting. You’re definitely not going to be bored no matter where you’re parked.
I always want to sit in this spot every time I visit! Alas, I haven’t yet!
Now hopefully this tour has worked up an appetite for you!!
So we’re in a pub, right? And what must you do in a pub? Well, drink, of course! And so we did.
With so many amazing choices, it’s always hard to make a decision at Raglan Road, but eventually, I settled on the Celtic Martini. A note here, though: normally, this drink comes in a traditional martini glass, of which I am not a big fan. (Drinks get too warm, too fast in those glasses, imo.) That’s why my Celtic Martini appears in a tall glass, on the rocks. A blend of Irish Mist, Don Q Limon Rum, Pineapple and a hint of citrus & sprite, this was delicious!
One of my favorite features at Raglan Road are the beer flights. Can’t decide? You don’t need to! And now, you can even customize your choices with the Cream of the Crop Flight, and get it exactly the way you’d like it! We chose Warsteiner, Magners, Kilkenny, and Smithwicks, which was a terrific way to compare a lager, cider, cream ale, and an ale. It mad for a beautiful and diverse selection.
Another fun part of the drinks? The “learn to speak Irish” coasters with funny expressions. We were talking about “grannies” for the rest of the day.
All right, all right! Time for the FŪD!
We started with Raglan Road’s complimentary bread service, served with their house made Guinness reduction dipping sauce. The Irish Soda Bread is killer on its own, but then you add the dipping sauce and it’s a little slice of heaven.
Our server told us the sauce tasted like honey, but we were skeptical. Turns out the reduction is pretty much spiked with a TON of sugar, so it really does taste like honey! My mom ended up buying a few bottles of it in the gift shop on the way out — she was addicted.
After bread, we were anxious to dig into a selection of starters and began with the mushroom soup. Let me tell you — ANY soup that Kevin Dundon creates is going to be sensational, I promise you, so you should ALWAYS order it. This one can be summed up in three words: mushrooms, cream, and butter. That’s what I tasted, at least, and the flavors and textures were wonderfully, decadently, balanced. And I don’t even like mushrooms.
The Dalkey Duo Sausages were up next, and this is a MUST HAVE for any Raglan Road trip as well. Mild yet flavorful, the battered (yes! battered!) sausages and creamy mustard sauce are out of this world. And there are plenty to share with the whole table (although you won’t want to).
Why are they all on a bunch of little forks? I have no idea. It’s all sausage foresty.
The scallop tart, ordered by my mom, is done up in lovely fashion, with a surround of puff pastry and a crown of watercress and grape tomato salad. It’s dressed lightly with a lemon vinaigrette. Mom pronounced it delicious (she’s a scallop-phile).
Full yet? Make room for entrees!!!
To begin, we ordered the Banger and Booz with Guinness Stew and Mashed potatoes. This dish is over the top, because it really is like two entrees in one!
You have the bangers (mild sausages), but then they are topped with a thick, rich Guinness stew, which is full of tender beef chunks and flavorful root veggies. Fun caramelized onions are piled up on top! I really like this dish, and though Rose and Crown still takes my vote in the Battle of the Bangers for pure sausage-i-ness (it’s a much simpler dish over there); this really should be on your list of items to try on an upcoming trip to Raglan Road.
The flavor is sophisticated, so don’t just expect a standard savory sausage taste — there’s more to this, especially with the deep Guinness flavors in the stew.
Next up: the Fada Burger. In short, it was amazing — so amazing that I’m already planning to order it on my next visit!
What sets it apart? There is a terrific mixture of flavors: Irish bacon; a slice of strong, sharp, nutty Dubliner cheddar cheese; a flavorful tomato chutney in lieu of ketchup; and a huge portion of savory beef really make this a taste explosion. Add in the Irish chips, and I’m a happy, happy AJ.
And about that cheese…I am serious when I say that it’s amazing and I LOVE it. I love it so much, in fact, that I ordered a piece of Dubliner cheese for myself just to satisfy a craving (you see…the burger wasn’t mine…so I couldn’t eat it all.)
The quality of this particular sharp cheddar just makes such a huge difference to this burger and the other dishes in which it’s featured. And so, that is the story of the lonely little piece of cheese on a plate…I’m pretty sure our server thought I was crazy with the martini in the tall glass and the random “piece of cheese” side order.
Our final entree is the Raglan Road’s fun take on a classic: Keen Eye for Shepherd’s Pie. A perennial Raglan Road favorite, this one has been on the menu for a long time, with good reason.
The HUGE portion is full of rich ground lamb, crowned with a perfect coronet of smooth mashed potato, and surrounded by savory gravy. The dish incorporates a healthy dose of Guinness, evident in its complexity. We’ll also take this opportunity to you remind you that shepherd’s pie traditionally signals that you’ll be eating lamb, whereas cottage pie, though similar, normally features beef.
Although we had certainly enjoyed a pretty wide selection of menu offerings, no way were we skipping dessert!
We began with the Bailey’s Creme Brulee Tart, a very interesting take on the standard “find-it-everywhere” creme brulee dessert. Making it into a pie is a fantastic twist! Everyone at the table enjoyed this one, which had a velvety, creamy and rich texture that never strayed into “gelatinous.”
This is one of my favorite hallmarks of Chef Dundon’s cooking. The custard-family desserts that I’ve tried of his have been strong and creamy, and never lacking in rich texture. To put it simply — they don’t taste or feel like milk jello. Yay! He even makes a panna cotta that I love! I never thought that would happen!
Next on our list was Ger’s Bread and Butter Pudding with Butterscotch and Custard Sauces, another classic Raglan Road dessert that everyone should try at least once. Granted, it’s very hard to finish due to the pure bigness of it, but you owe it to yourself to try! The taste comes close to ‘Ohana’s bread pudding, which you all know I worship.
I found the Raspberry Pavlova, on the other hand, to be very disappointing…and, even more sadly, this was the dessert I personally ordered. I’m NOT a meringue fan. NOT AT ALL. I don’t understand how puffy sugar is a dessert, so I was pretty unhappy here. (Why did I order it, you ask? THAT is a good question, my friends. Clearly I didn’t know what a pavlova was.)
It’s beautiful, and the ice cream was good, but it was wasted on me overall. Luckily, I snagged bites of the other desserts so I didn’t feel too deprived. If you’re a meringue fan, though, go for it!
But we were back to solid ground with the Strawberry and Apple Crumble. We really loved this dessert during our last visit to Raglan Road, and it was great again this time as well. Think warm oatmeal cookie with fruit, sauces, and ice cream. How can you go wrong?!
Once again, Raglan Road delivers with an amazing dining experience. Whether you are there for an evening of live entertainment, or you visit during the day for lunch as we did, you will not be disappointed.
Excellent food, beautiful surroundings, and a festive vibe will engage all of your senses. Once again: the menu has changed slightly since our visit, but most of the dishes we enjoyed are still available!
Have you had the pleasure of dining at Raglan Road, or do you plan to in the near future? What’s your choice for an entree?!