Ever since all of the clubs on Pleasure Island closed their doors for the last time, the area has become somewhat forgotten and overlooked by the many guests visiting Downtown Disney. However, Raglan Road proves that there is still some life left here and offers a dining and entertainment experience geared more towards adults. With its pub-like atmosphere featuring live music and step dancing Monday thru Thursday from 7pm to midnight as well as Friday and Saturday from 8pm to 1am, dining at Raglan Road is about more than just the food and offers a setting where adults can relax and have a good time at night. Whether just stopping by the bar for a pint or having a full meal, Raglan Road offers a fun and lively dining experience that is just like a little bit of Ireland in the middle of Disney World.
The name Raglan Road actually comes from an Irish song which combines Patrick Kavanagh's poem "Dark Haired Miriam Ran Away" with the traditional Irish tune "The Dawning of the Day." Since it was first recorded in the 1960s, "Raglan Road" has become an extremely popular song performed by many famous Irish singers, including Van Morrison and Bono. With a name based on an Irish song, it comes as no surprise that Irish music is a theme carried throughout the restaurant. Equally as interesting as the origins of the restaurant's name is the resume of its head chef, who has cooked for many famous celebrities including Queen Elizabeth and U2.
Raglan Road offers a true, authentic Irish experience rather than one that is idealized or cliché (you will not find any shamrocks or leprechauns here) and even the restaurant's logo is based on a traditional Irish motif. The logo is a symbol is known as a triskele and is composed of three interlocking spirals representing the ancient Celtic concept of the interrelation between earth, water, and sky. This is but one example of the level of authenticity prevalent throughout the restaurant.
As soon as you step inside Raglan Road you feel as though you have been transported to Ireland thanks to a high degree of detail and theming you expect from restaurants at Disney World (although it should be noted that Raglan Road is not owned by Disney but is a third-party establishment). One of the most notable features when you enter is the massive bar, which is 130 years old and was actually transported to Florida from Ireland.The antique quality of the bar helps set the tone for the rest of the restaurant's old-world feel. Even though the restaurant opened in 2005, it feels much older than that.
Although the main dining room is a large, open space, it has a rather dark and intimate feel due to its stained glass windows and dark-wood tables, chairs, wall panels, and floor.
At the center of this main dining area is a raised platform used at night by the step dancer and along one of the walls by the fireplace is a small stage where the live band performs.
Off to the sides of the central dining area are two additional dining rooms. Although these rooms have windows that allow for more natural light, the wood-paneled walls help maintain the cozy, pub-like feel throughout the restaurant.
For those of you that like to dine al fresco, Raglan Road does offer an outside seating area as well, although you do not really get the same authentic Irish experience as you do when eating inside.
Overall, the restaurant has a very casual, laid-back feel, but this does not come at the expense of great details in the décor. The prevailing theme that is carried throughout the restaurant is Irish music, with the walls adorned with paintings, portraits, and pictures of various Irish bands and singers. Adding to the authenticity are large glass cabinets filled with a plethora of musical memorabilia ranging from records to sheet music to fiddles, banjos, and other instruments. While this musical theming is not over the top, there is just enough to give the restaurant a cohesive feel and also gives it a more immersive quality.
It should be noted that depending on what time of day you choose to dine at Raglan Road you will encounter an entirely different type of atmosphere. If you are looking for a more quiet meal I would definitely recommend going for lunch as you can normally walk in without having a reservation and have the restaurant largely to yourself. Dinner offers a louder and much more raucous, party-like atmosphere, especially with the live entertainment and the bar packed with patrons. If dining here with children lunch would definitely be the way to go, while dinner offers a good alternative for adults who want to have a night out on their own.
I think I could best describe the menu at Raglan Road as traditional Irish cuisine with a contemporary twist. While the menu features many classic Irish favorites, some are presented in a new way and there are other items featured that are a little less conventional (and many which are cleverly named). It should be noted that Raglan Road features a slightly different menu for both lunch and dinner and while there are some items that are found on both, there are others that are exclusive to either one or the other.
The appetizers for both lunch and dinner are the same and feature a wide variety of options. If you are in the mood for seafood there are the Mighty Mussels ($10.00) featuring a half pound of fresh mussels in a coconut infused curry broth, Salmon Swoon ($13.00), which is smoked salmon served with capers, shallots and créme fraiche, Kiss Before Shrimp ($13.00) with pan seared shrimp in a garlic and chili lemon butter sauce with sliced baguette, the Scallop Forest ($15.00) with Georges Bank scallops in a golden batter served with citrus lime dipping sauce and sweet chili jam, Calamari City ($12.00) featuring fried calamari and mixed tempura vegetables served with a spicy remoulade, and Smokie City ($13.00), a smoked haddock and Dubliner cheese dip with potatoes, tomatoes, and crostinis.
Other non-seafood appetizers include Mixed Green Salad ($5.00) with tomato, carrots, cucumbers, and balsamic vinaigrette, Tart Art ($10.00), an asparagus and goat cheese tart with garden peas, leeks and lemon oil dressed arugula, Crock o' Pate ($10.00), which is a crock of rustic chicken liver pate served with an apricot chutney, Heaven on Earth ($14.00) featuring baby back ribs tossed in a Guinness glaze, Nom Nom Wings ($10.00), sweet 'n spicy wings tossed in a honey, chili flake, soy and ginger sauce, and Dalkey Duo Sausages ($11.00) featuring battered cocktail sausages with a mustard dipping sauce.
Exclusive to the lunch menu are a wide variety of sandwiches such as the Prosciutto & Chicken Sambo ($15.00) with chicken breast, crispy prosciutto, Dubliner cheese, lettuce, tomato, and herb aioli, the Steak Sanger ($16.00) with tender grilled steak served open-faced with basil grilled vegetables and herb aioli, the Portobello Beauty ($15.00) featuring a grilled Portobello mushroom topped with Dubliner cheese and tomato chutney, the Lobster Club ($16.00), a lobster and avocado salad with crispy prosciutto, watercress, and citrus herb mayonnaise, Beefy Brisket ($15.00) served on a multigrain roll with caramelized onions and horseradish sauce, Gammon and Egg ($14.00) with thinly sliced gammon and fried egg on buttered toast, and the Burger 'r' Way ($15.00) which is available for both lunch and dinner topped with bacon, tomato chutney, and Dubliner vintage cheddar.
If you are looking for some lighter faire, both the lunch and dinner menus feature an assortment of salads such as the Cashel Castle ($14.00) with crumbled blue cheese, caramelized pecans, grape tomatoes, raspberries, prosciutto crisps, crostinis, and raspberry vinaigrette, the Hail Caesar ($12.00) topped with prosciutto crisps, grape tomatoes, croutons, and shaved Parmesan, the Citrus Salmon Salad ($17.00) with mixed greens, carrots, red onions, and toasted almonds in an herb citrus dressing, the SSS Beefy ($15.00) featuring seared beef with mixed greens tossed in balsamic dressing with roasted tomato, crispy onions, and a horseradish cream, the Vegetarian Goat ($15.00) with oven roasted vegetables tossed in a white balsamic and lemon oil dressing with goat cheese, and the Vroom Salad ($12.00) featuring gluten free quinoa grains with cider vinegar, marinated beans, sweet and sour carrots, watercress, and a honey mustard dressing.
Among the entrée choices available for both lunch and dinner are the Raglan Road Risotto ($15.00) with shitake mushrooms, garden peas, shaved parmesan, and rocket lettuce, Keen Eye for Shepherd's Pie ($18.00), Fish & Chips ($19.00), Pie in the Sky ($18.00), a chicken and wild mushroom pie, Kevin's Heavenly Ham ($22.00) served with cabbage and an apple potato cake, Salmon of Knowledge ($25.00) topped with smoked salmon and a maple glaze, King Cod ($25.00) crusted with lemon and parsley with leak fondue, butter beans, and a citrus white wine sauce, Cluck Curry ($19.00) featuring chicken breast in curry broth with onions, peppers, leeks, and steamed almond rice, Lambo Italiano ($22.00), a slow-braised lamb ragout served over rigatoni with tomatoes and fresh basil, Beefy Murray ($18.00), a beef curry pie with spinach, potatoes, mushrooms, and apple chutney, Sod the Stew ($17.00), which is a traditional beef stew infused with a hint of Guinness, Bangers and Booz ($18.00), featuring a Guinness and onion banger on mash potatoes topped with caramelized onions, and Pork Vienna ($20.00), a breaded and seared pork schnitzel with fried egg and chips.
Those entrees available exclusively for dinner are Lambo ($26.00), a lamb shank braised in rosemary jus with mashed potatoes, leeks, shiitake mushrooms, and baby carrots, the Mighty Mixed Grill ($28.00) featuring a lamb chop, Guinness banger, sirloin steak, black pudding, chicken drumstick and bacon, Pork Supreme ($25.00) grilled with colcannon potatoes, a port cider jus, and an apple chutney, Braised Beef ($25.00) with horseradish mashed potatoes, roasted carrots, and parsnips, Serious Steak ($27.00), a 10 ounce sirloin topped with an Irish whiskey marmalade glaze served with mashed potatoes and topped with crispy fried onion strings, It's Not Bleedin' Chowder ($25.00) featuring fresh cuts of seafood and potatoes in a white wine infused cream broth, and Mammy's Roast Chicken ($20.00),a lemon-thyme roasted half chicken with mashed potatoes and red wine sauce.
You will definitely want to save room for dessert as the menu features some delectable options including a Strawberry & Apple Crumble ($8.50) with fresh strawberries and apples in a tart with berry compote and vanilla bean ice cream, Ger's Bread & Butter Pudding ($8.50), a Bailey's Brulé Tart ($8.50), Trifle Sinful ($8.50), which is a kitchen baked Swiss roll with Gran Marnier, berries, custard and cream, Moore Market Street ($8.50), a fresh fruit basket with natural yogurt and a honey drizzle, and the Dunbrody Kiss ($8.50), which the menu describes a "Chocolate. Add chocolate. Then add some more."
With such an expansive menu it took me a while to decide what I wanted. I chose to start my meal with the Heaven on Earth appetizer. These were unlike any other baby back ribs that I have ever had. The distinguishing feature of the ribs themselves is that they are so light and are served slightly crispy. They are also extremely tender and not fatty at all; as you are eating them the meat falls right off the bone. What really takes the ribs to the next level is the Guinness sauce which, like the ribs, is also very light and also slightly sweet in flavor. There is a definite hint of Guinness but it is not overpowering. This dish is a perfect way to start a meal because it is fairly light and not filling if splitting amongst a group. However, the portion size is large enough that it could be a meal unto itself.
For my entrée I went with the Fish & Chips. Being from New England where seafood is abundant, I have tried many different versions of Fish & Chips, but I can say that the ones at Raglan Road are some of the best I have ever tasted. The batter is very light in flavor with just the slightest hint of beer so that it is noticeable but does not take away from or overpower the flavor of the fish. The fish was perfectly fried so that the batter was crispy (but not overly so) on the outside and the fish was still light and flaky on the inside. The chips (fries) were thick-cut but I would have preferred it if they had been served a little more crispy. Also, there is no need to add salt to the fries as they came served with enough salt already on them. The tartar sauce that accompanies the fish is freshly made, very creamy, thick and rich in flavor, providing the perfect complement to the light-tasting fish.
For dessert I wanted to try something a little different so I decided on the Bailey's Brulee Tart, an Irish spin on the traditional crème brulee. When it was served it looked more like a slice of cheesecake than crème brulee. The custard is far thicker and a little firmer than what you would typically find in crème brulee, but it still comes topped with the traditional layer of caramelized sugar. This is a very light, smooth, and creamy dessert and, while it has a slight hint of Bailey's flavor, it is not too overpowering. I am not usually a big fan of crème brulee, but I thought this dessert was very good.
No review of Raglan Road would be complete without talking about my favorite dessert in all of Disney World, Ger's Bread & Butter Pudding. If you are a fan of bread pudding (and even if you are not) this is definitely a dessert that you need to try. It is unlike any other bread pudding that I have ever had. First of all the dessert is absolutely huge. It comes served piping hot in a large coffee mug accompanied by butterscotch and vanilla sauces which you can add on top to suit your own taste. Both of the sauces compliment the flavor of the bread pudding extremely well while at the same time enhancing its flavor and adding a little sweetness to the dessert. This dessert is extremely rich and very filling, but you will definitely savor each and every bite.
In keeping with the pub-like atmosphere of the restaurant, I found the service to be very laid back and casual, but this is not necessarily a bad thing. My server was very conversational, and not just limited to offering advice about different items on the menu. I was wearing a Washington Nationals baseball cap and we struck up a conversation about baseball and Washington DC. I did notice that all the servers in the restaurant really try to push the alcohol, especially the numerous types of Irish beer they offer. This is due primarily to the pub-like nature of the restaurant. Overall, the meal progressed at a relaxed and leisurely pace, not too slow but just enough time between courses to digest. If you are looking for a quick meal, however, this may not necessarily be the best place for you.
Dining on a Budget:
Raglan Road is fairly reasonably priced by Disney standards. If you are looking to save some money I would definitely recommend going to Raglan Road for lunch instead of dinner as there are many sandwiches that make for a more affordable meal. The numerous salad selections on the menu are another inexpensive option as well if dining on a budget. Having been to Raglan Road many times I can safely say that many of the appetizers are large enough to be meals unto themselves. You could order the Heaven on Earth appetizer along with Ger's Bread and Butter Pudding for dessert and have a reasonably priced meal that will certainly not leave you hungry.
If you are in the mood for Irish fare, but do not want the expense of a sit-down restaurant, I highly recommend Cooke's of Dublin. This counter service restaurant adjacent to Raglan Road features some items, such as Fish & Chips, found on Raglan Road's menu at a more affordable price (although also a smaller portion size). It is a great option if you are looking for a quick bite to eat while visiting Downtown Disney.
The Overall Experience:
Raglan Road has quickly become one of my favorite restaurants at Downtown Disney because it offers a dining experience that is truly authentic and immersive. Everything about the restaurant, from its pub-like atmosphere to the live entertainment at night to the traditional Irish foods found on the menu, all make you feel as though you have been transported to Ireland. The restaurant offers everything you would expect when dining at Disney, a well detailed décor with subtle yet immersive theming, great food in terms of both quantity and quality, and extremely friendly service.
I highly recommend this restaurant for everyone, but especially for those adults who may be looking for a night out on their own away from the kids. Nighttime at Raglan Road offers a fun and exciting atmosphere where adults can relax, have a good time, and enjoy a good drink and a good meal. This is also a great restaurant for anyone looking to try food that is a little different from what we are normally used to eating, a little taste of Ireland in the middle of Disney World.
Mom and the Magic at Raglan Road
See past reviews by Guest Blogger Andrew Rossi.
Check out Reader Reviews of Raglan Road and post your own too!
The previous post in this blog was From Dreamer to Dreamfinder: A Life and Lessons Learned in 40 Years Behind a Name Tag - Review.
The next post in this blog is Ft. Wilderness Christmas -- Dave “The Castle Guy”.