Now, Raglan Road is not especially new, and not particularly a secret. Yet, within the myriad of new offerings and openings at Disney Springs, it’s easy to forget that this genuine Irish-style bar and restaurant is still there.
And, when there is so much to enjoy, especially if you haven’t been since last autumn, we thought it was worth going back to highlight just how good a job they do of making guests feel welcome, putting on some top-class entertainment and serving up some of the best food and drink in the Disney multiverse.
Just to start with, Raglan Road is a true Emerald Isle original. The owners all come from Ireland, with a great track record in the hospitality industry, and they are topped off by the executive chef being none other than Dublin celebrity chef Kevin Dundon (and, if you haven’t seen his superb cookbook, Full On Irish, you should definitely stop by the gift shop after your meal!).
The style and substance has been a big hit with us since it opened in 2005, and they have maintained the quality ever since, tweaking a few things here and there but, by and large, being consistent with what they offer. Dundon visits regularly to ensure everything is kept to his standards, and there have been some notable additions to the menu in recent years, including some excellent flatbreads, a full brunch menu at the weekend, and, last autumn, some delicious new dishes.
Now, alert readers will immediately spot the second reference to ‘last autumn’ and be wondering, “What’s up with that date?” Well, it was last September when Raglan Road unveiled its latest menu updates, as well as adding a whole raft of new live entertainment, highlighted by the 90-minute Rhythms of Raglan show.
And, if you thought the craic was good before, it’s now, well, even craic-ier, with more singers, dancers and musicians than ever before. It all starts at 4pm every day, and lasts into the wee small hours, so you don’t have to rush to get there, and you can definitely put your feet up when you do.
We were impressed when all the new elements made their debut during last year’s Great Irish Hooley (September 2-5, and one of the pub’s signature annual events), and have been equally impressed on several subsequent visits, hence we decided to wax lyrical about it in the blog this week (yes, we know; it’s a tough job but someone has to do it!).
It’s hard to pick out individual highlights as there are so many, so let us just tell you about our most recent trip to the Road and everything we sampled.
First off, the Rhythms of Raglan is a show everyone should make time for on their visit to Disney Springs. A fully choreographed and stage-quality performance, RoR features a bevy of dancers backed by the talents of The Flyin’ Marys, a four-piece band from Ireland. It was also produced in Ireland and directed by David Hayes (of Riverdance, and The Voice: Ireland Edition).
It delivers a non-stop kaleidoscope of everything that’s fun and impressive about the Riverdance show style, and there is no cover charge to come in from 4-5.30, which makes it a major bargain. It’s a great time for an early dinner (or very late lunch!) as you can pretty much guarantee a table in the main hall, and we have been in both for a full meal and just a drink and a seat at the bar.
Most of the dancers also hail from Dublin, and have performed with leading companies in Europe, hence this is as authentic as it gets in Irish terms.
When it comes to The Menu at Raglan Road, there are two things you need to know: 1) It’s really good, and 2) They like to have some fun with it. There are separate menus for lunch, dinner and brunch (Saturdays and Sundays, from 10am-3pm, with its own entertainment line-up, including the Rhythms of Raglan), and you don’t just choose a Starter and Main Course here. Oh no. You can choose from It’s All For Me or It’s All To Share (starters) and then progress to It’s All To Devour (main courses), plus It’s All Green (salads).
There is even a Late Night Dining menu, with a slimmed-down variety of offerings from 11pm to 1 or 2am (you see what we mean about a party?).
Many menu items remain long-time favourites, such as the Dalkey Duo (cocktail sausages served with a Dalkey sauce), and Keen Eye For The Shepherd’s Pie, as well as It’s Not Bleedin’ Chowder (which is, allegedly, what the head chef said when asked about his seafood-and-potato infused white wine cream broth) and their signature Bread Pudding dessert.
But, on our latest visit, we opted for the superb new Rack of Heaven (slow-roasted, Guinness-glazed baby back ribs) under the All For Sharing label. A melt-in-the-mouth taste sensation, the ribs were big, fat and succulent, and actually more than we could manage as a starter for two (thank goodness for the doggy bag!), especially as we also sampled another new item, the Irish Egg, a Guinness-and-onion sausage crusted egg, with pickled cabbage and saffron aioli. Unlike a traditional Scotch Egg, the egg in the middle was newly cooked, warm and gooey – just divine.
That was followed by Kevin’s Heavenly Ham – glazed loin of bacon with savoury cabbage, colcannon potatoes in a parsley cream sauce – and Sod the Stew, another Kevin-ism, which is a richly Guinness-infused beef stew of epic proportions.
For dessert, there was Chocolate Heaven (just as it sounds – a flourless chocolate cake with fresh berries, chocolate ganache and whipped cream) and Fluffy Lemon Clouds (lemon curd tart topped with meringue), followed by a Pumpkin Baileys Coffee, an outrageously rich coffee concoction of Pumpkin Baileys liqueur topped with whipped cream and cinnamon sugar.
Wait! We missed out the real starter – one of Raglan Road’s new Beer Flights, featuring Miriam’s Irish Coffee Stout, Bloomsday Pale Ale, Planted Strawberry and Lime Hard Cider, and Tri Wishes Grand Irish Red. Yowzer. If there is a better mix of sampling ales to be had in Orlando at the moment, it would have to be ridiculously good to beat Raglan Road’s.
As you can probably tell, it was a l-o-n-g dinner, and we weren’t able to depart with any kind of speed due to being weighed down by several pounds of the best food we have eaten in a while. But was it worth it? You bet!
And here’s a date (or dates) for your diary – March 16-19. This is their other big signature event, The Mighty Festival, otherwise known as St Patrick’s Week. Instead of just a mere Day to celebrate Ireland’s patron saint, Raglan Road offers four full days of music, food, dancing and craft beers, plus a few speciality cocktails. We might just see you there…
If you have questions about Orlando’s theme parks – or anything else about the wonders of Florida – be sure to go online and ask Susan and Simon on the ATD forums, on this link.
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