Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Disney Reviews Restaurant Edition #3 - Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant
There always seems to be that one restaurant in Disney World that instantly becomes one of your favorites, that never fails to surpass your expectations, and always ends up being your favorite of the trip. Mine has been Raglan Road since our first experience there! My blood is strong with my Celtic heritage (although I'm Scottish and not Irish) and the entire atmosphere and menu appeal to me on a blood level versus my stomach's cravings...I even say "bangers and mash" in a strange, almost whispery tone. The decorations, the seating, the bars, the table settings, even the Chef, were all imported directly from Ireland, so it's definitely not like your local pub (although mine does have seating imported from Ireland, church pews to be exact, which make you feel a bit weird sitting in them and drinking alcohol, but I digress).
Because of my social issues, I have to pick my solo spots very carefully, with careful consideration to crowds and noise levels and, for that reason, Raglan Road is definitely NOT a solo place. It is very loud, very large, and always very very busy, but I have still spent a significant amount of time there on my own after my sister left the meal early due to illness. That, in itself, is a testament to the power of the place...if I can sit in that kind of environment alone (even if I can't arrive alone) and still enjoy it, then just WOW!
Our Raglan Road night often falls after our Animal Kingdom day. AK closes typically at 5 or 6 pm and it is the most exhausting of all the parks. It's hotter because of the tall/thick foliage and it is really big with lots of space between things. That's why, despite it's short daily hours, it's still a full day park...if it stayed open later, you could either share it with another park or have a midday break easily, but it's not. But the early closing time gives us time to go back to the resort and rest a bit and still have primping time.
We do dress up a bit to go to Raglan Road, although it's not a Signature restaurant and the "Business Casual" attire is not required (and, FYI, business casual means no tanks or short shorts or T-shirts with rude slogans on them, just "better" jeans and a nice top - but you'll always see some hoo-haa in a wife-beater and board shorts). We just like to make a night of it (and it just feels a bit classier than other Downtown Disney restaurants), so dressing up is a personal choice for us. But we are girls, so that process takes time. That's why AK day is best for RR night...we aren't losing valuable park time from Magic Kingdom or Epcot, which stay open the latest, by leaving the park to go back to the resort, rushing to get ready, spending a couple of hours Downtown, and then either returning to the resort to change to return to the parks (if they are still open) or just giving up and heading back to the resort for the night and missing out on nighttime events at the parks (which are unmiss-able events). Plus, since Magic Kingdom is an alcohol-free park (well, all but Be Our Guest restaurant), I don't like to go there smelling of Guinness (my drink of choice at RR). The Studios does close earlier than MK or Epcot, but you are typically not out of there and back to your resort until about 10, so that's not enough time to get ready for RR.
But back to Raglan Road, it is in the Pleasure Island section of Downtown Disney, which means it's about right in the middle. Due to all the construction in that area, the PI bus stop is now closed so you have to walk from the Marketplace and it is quite a jaunt (aka you have to be careful of your shoe choice). At least the walk back allows you to walk off your meal. Until the Disney Springs conversion is complete, you should expect tons of construction walls around it as well. A side effect of Disney progress, but the entire area will look AMAZING once it's finished and Raglan Road isn't going anywhere!
RR is deceptively massive on the inside, from a quite large gift shop at the front podium (and, since RR uses the typical Disney beeper system, you can browse freely through the store) to several different dining rooms that all tend to look alike (especially when you've had a few Guinnesses and you have to go to the bathroom and then find your way back...my biggest weakness). If you want to see the Irish dancers or the band, then you'd better request a dancer or band view at the podium or you'll find yourself not being able to see (although you might have to wait longer for it). There are various little dancing stands throughout each room though, so don't fret if you can't get near the main stage. If you prefer to sit at the bar, well there are four to choose from, so just let them know you prefer bar seating (I'm not a typical "bar" seater, I'd prefer a table, but mainly because we usually order enough food to feed a small army and I prefer to sit with my back to a wall with full view of the people...I get a bit paranoid when things are happening behind me...I call it the Blair Witch syndrome).
Although we were in the middle of a room last year:
We were still lucky enough to be seated almost in front of the main stage:
as well as a smaller one to my right behind my mother:
We have been by the kitchens to the far right of the music stage in the past (which looks a lot like the dancing stage, but trust me, it is two separate rooms, so can you see why you could easily get lost?
and there was a smaller dancer stage in front of it:
We've also had no view of the dancers or the band either in other years...it's just the luck of the draw if you don't ask. But trust me, that place is LOUD, so don't worry about not being able to hear the band (and, if you like them, they sell their CD's in the gift shop).
I am a creature of habit and my typical pub fare has always been bangers and mash. I absolutely LOVE it! And, of course, RR has the best bangers I have ever had (plus, they add a bit of Guinness stew along which really goes well with the sausages).
Then there is a bread pudding...OMBGIH!! I am a bread pudding snob and am very particular about it...if there is cinnamon on it, I won't touch it with a ten foot pole and, since I don't like bread, the type of bread used is another yes/no factor for me. Again, RR doesn't fail to please on the bread front or the lack of cinnamon and the sauces they give you are amazing! But I would definitely share an order with someone else because the portions are MASSIVE:
Last time, after such a successful taste of the pavlova at the Australian booth of the F&W Festival in October, I opted for the pavlova at RR and, although it wasn't as good as the F&W offering, it was still really good (and easier to consume all of it versus the bread pudding...damn diet!):
There is also an attached outside bar to Raglan Road and a counter service restaurant Cooke's of Dublin to the right of it (if you are arriving from the Marketplace side). We actually tried Cooke's fish & chips as a last minute "on our way out" stop last December, and it was quite good (although I think the fish & chips at Yorkshire County Fish Shop in Epcot's UK Pavilion are actually better taste wise (but Rose and Crown, the table service in Epcot's UK has NOTHING on Raglan Road and should only be eaten at if you crave pub food and you don't want to leave Epcot). I will say it is nicer to be indoors at Cooke's than the outdoor seating at Yorkshire and not having to worry about seagulls stealing your fish - which actually happened to me one year. And Cooke's has brown sauce (it's a version of what we call Heinz 57, but a bit darker and richer) which I am addicted to!
So that's Raglan Road! I'm not sure where I'm heading to next review-wise, so be prepared!
As a side note, I've always thought I had good pictures of Disney World, but until I started these review posts, I never realized how generic and bland my pictures actually are (and how I never manage to have the shots I'm looking for to convey my message). I'll have to make it a point to do a better job next time and think more like a blogger than a tourist! When I take pictures inside the restaurants, it's apparently just of my food or my sister because I had a whale of a time finding indoor pictures of the restaurants themselves! Same with the resorts...I have dozens of the room we stay in, but barely any in and around them. It has to do with being afraid someone is going to see me take a picture, like it's illegal or something! I'm trying to fix that.