When entering the Raglan Road Restaurant in Downtown Disney, stained glass, polished bars, and leather booths welcome you into what immediately feels like an authentic Irish dining experience.
With a 6:00PM reservation, my guest and I, both first time visitors, were seated immediately and our waiter began by acting as our tour guide for the evening. He explained that much of the restaurant was created in Ireland and transported to Disney—even the master chef who was “celebrated for creating traditional Irish meals with a modern flair.”
Our server suggested we begin with the Smokie City appetizer. The description didn’t excite us as it was a creamy smoked haddock & Dubliner cheese dip with potatoes, tomatoes & grilled baguette. However, our guide “staked his career” on his belief that we would love it. He was right. The texture was that of robust chowder; full of chunky pieces of fish and potatoes. As a bonus, we also enjoyed rich, grainy Irish soda bread with a Guinness reduction dip that resembled honey. As we finished our appetizer, we were delighted to hear music and the thump of Irish Dancing far behind us. The crowd clapped in unison and diners chanted their encouragement. Fortunately, we were far enough away from the stage to be able to see the exquisite dancers without being overwhelmed by the fast tempo beats and echoing feedback from the rowdier bar section.
We also sought our server’s advice when selecting our entrees. Walking to the restaurant, I anticipated ordering Shepherd’s Pie. However, I hesitated after reading the description, “We give the traditional Shepherd’s Pie a little makeover with our contemporary twist to this favorite dish.” I asked about the “twist” and our waiter revealed that Shepherd’s Pie is usually made with either ground beef or ground lamb. This was made with both. Since, I am not a fan of lamb; I opted instead for the fish and chips. My dining companion chose the braised beef with horseradish mashed potatoes, roasted carrots & parsnips.
Service was so efficient that there was very little time between courses. The fish and chips arrived in a wire basket wrapped in paper. The homemade French fries were such a welcome change from those we have grown accustomed to in fast food restaurants. They were perfectly salted and I could have spent the entire evening just dipping these “chips” in ketchup, sipping my drink, and watching the entertainment. The fish was so white and flaky that it barely could be picked up with a fork. It just crumbled from freshness. Meanwhile, the crunchy batter coating was dry and whispered hints of seasoning that delighted the senses.
The Braised Beef was incredible. The shredded meat was tender and exploded with succulent, and sweet flavors. It was served in an aluminum pot that also included mashed potatoes perked-up with a splash of fiery horseradish. The side parsnip and carrots sticks were crisp, snappy, and wholesome.
For dessert, we had a tough time deciding between the strawberry and apple crumble and the bread pudding. When our server mentioned that Ger’s Bread & Butter Pudding was the master chef’s grandmother’s recipe, what choice did we have? We coaxed this snug mound of golden Texas toast out of its bowl and onto the accompanying platter to drench it with the caramel sauce and fresh cream served beside it in small pitchers. This dessert was superb.
There is no doubt that our newly Irish eyes were smiling after this delectable dining experience.
Food: Our selections were excellent and presented beautifully. Our only complaint was that there were too many great menu options from which to choose.
Atmosphere: Exuberant bursts of music and dance. The massive restaurant offers choices including rail, table, booth, and outdoor options that are both in close proximity and far away from the music and dancing.
Service: Impressive. Well-trained professionals are extremely attentive and informative. The manager was ever-present ensuring the satisfaction of guests.
Tips: Make a reservation. We were seated immediately, while others waited at the bar for 30-35 minutes. Select your table wisely based on your desired level of participation. Go at night to enjoy live music as the band takes requests after 11:00PM. Save room for dessert and order Ger’s Bread and Butter Pudding— the best we ever had!
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