We’ll grab dinner at Raglan Road, the incredibly popular Irish restaurant in Downtown Disney. It’s popular for a few reasons – the live entertainment, reasonably priced food, and the whole people love everything Irish thing. There’s also the fact that the head chef, Kevin Dundon, is among the most charming men in the world.
You might imagine I spend a lot of time here, but I really don’t – it’s often crowded and I’m not paying $10 for a bottle of beer. Although looking at the menu, I’ve never had an Innis & Gunn before. The Maduro Brown Ale would also be a good choice. It’s brewed down in Tampa by the excellent Cigar City Brewery. I’m not positive, but I don’t think they distribute much further than Florida.
Several of the wines from Splitsville reappear here at cheaper prices.
At the Hole in the Wall bar outside, you can get $2 off draft beer from 3pm – 7pm. As I’ve mentioned before, Orange Blossom Pilsner is a nice choice down here in Florida.
I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. I neglected to take a picture of the dinner menu – here it is at AllEars. But I did get pictures of the good stuff.
The meal begins with Irish soda bread served alongside a Guinness reduction dip.
It’s artsy because it’s tilted.
And blurry. Mr. Dundon shows you how to make it here: http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2010/07/how-to-make-irish-soda-bread-at-downtown-disney/. Anyway, the bread is quite good and the Guinness reduction is fabulous – sweet and unique.
We’re accompanied again by Darcie, Tim, and family, who were nice enough to invite me out to dinner. Darcie started with the “One for the Road – A blend of Ciroc Vodka and Midori Melon with the juices of oranges and pineapples – $9.50.” It looked to be refreshing and is larger than the drinks we sampled over at Splitsville for less money.
Tim with his Guinness. You can actually get certified in the Guinness pour at the Guinness Storehouse in Ireland. This looks to be proficient.
Arrogant Bastard Ale may be one of the better values on the menu, even at $18. It’s a 22oz bottle that would ordinarily run you $5 in the store. It’s a personal favorite and not just because I have a colossal ego that pairs nicely with the name. Just about everything Stone brews is amazing – their IPA is another favorite. In Florida, a six-pack of Rogue Dead Guy Ale is $13 – $15. So that’s about a 500% markup. Back in Washington, Costco often carried 24 packs of Dead Guy Ale in the fall for $29.99. Heaven.
I ordered An Irish Red Eye – Absolut Pepper, Spicy Bloody Mary Mix, and a Float of Guinness – $9.50. I think this is the most disgusting thing that I’ve ever consumed. I would guess some people must like it, but it was not at all to my taste. The spiciness from the vodka on top of the spicy mix seemed to be overwhelming. It was a struggle to get it down.
We started with the Appetiser D’Lirrah for Two – our Dalkey Duo, Scallop Forest, Heaven on Earth, and Drunk Chicken Skewers $27.
I never know what’s what. And there are three different sauces that are probably meant to pair with one of the choices. And I never pay enough attention to know which is which.
For the money, it also doesn’t seem to be a ton of food. Granted it’s earmarked for two to share and we normally share with four or five. But at 14 pieces for $27, it doesn’t strike me as being a compelling value. I’d probably order two full size appetizers – I like the Dalkey Duo – Dalkey-battered cocktail sausages with a Dalkey mustard dipping sauce – $11. That ships with six pieces on the forks and a bowl of six more instead of the three and three served up with the platter.
I ordered the “It’s Not Bleedin’ Chowder – Freshest cuts of seafood and potatoes in a white wine infused cream broth – $26. It was mostly salmon in a creamy broth. I thought the portion was on the light side of things, though it looks to be a heaping pile of seafood in the picture. Most of it is greens hidden underneath one of the three mussels. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t a particularly filling meal.
The large shrimp were probably the best part – they sucked up the flavor of the broth better than the salmon. Since there’s really no explanation of what the dish is, I wasn’t really sure what to expect.
Tim ordered the Mighty Mixed Grill – Lamb chop, Guinness banger, sirloin steak, black pudding, chicken drumstick & bacon – $29
He thought the food quality was the reverse of what he was expecting – the steak was tough. It looks to be a lot of meat for the money and a nice way to try a variety of Raglan Road’s featured items. Their ham is supposed to be particularly good I think.
Darcie ordered the not particularly bloggable Fish & Chips – Our famous beer battered fish & chips served with our fresh tartar sauce – $19. There’s a single piece of fish snuck in between the fries.
I’d probably stick to the Cookes of Dublin version, which is $10.95. Cookes is the quick service arm of Raglan Road that operates right next door. They serve a number of the same items, including several of the appetizers. This may not appear to be a large piece of fish, but this was actually more food than I could eat and I was quite hungry at the time. That almost never happens.
I was going to chat up the Cookes’ Fisherman’s Pie, but it is apparently off the menu! The Chicken/Mushroom and Beef/Lamb versions look to remain though. The Fisherman’s Pie was so good.
The Kids’ Fish & Chips, for nine bucks, was “literally” the exact same amount of food as the adult portion. The batter is light and flaky with more flavor from the fish than you’d usually find from the deep fried variety.
Dessert to share!
The Fluffy Lemon Clouds – Intense Lemon Curd Tart Topped with Fluffy Meringue – $8.50.
My initial reaction was that the presentation is on the sad side of things. I only had a small bite, but it didn’t seem to be anything particularly special.
Ger’s Bread and Butter Pudding – $8.50.
I consumed more of this one and thought it was quite good, particularly with the natural sweetness of the raisins.
The entertainment begins at 6pm nightly and runs through midnight. Sunday is typically the day where you’ll find the least entertainment offered.
If you’d like to be seated near the stage, request it when you check in. The last two times I’ve eaten at Raglan, we’ve been put in the back room where you don’t see much of the stage.
But the dancers did come back for a short gig.
Each danced for a minute at most.
And then packed up and went outside.
Service was okay. I’ve never really had stellar service at Raglan Road, so my expectations have been diminished somewhat. I don’t think the server stopped by to see how anything was and water glasses were often empty. Considering how hot Florida is and how seldom the servers make the rounds, you’d think their water glasses would be much larger. But they’re maybe 12 ounces at most. But food came out quickly enough and we didn’t experience a wait of more than two minutes to be seated. I had made the 5pm reservation earlier that morning for six. It was the only time available on Disney’s site. Only part of their inventory is available directly through Disney. If nothing is available, try Open Table: http://www.opentable.com/orlando-restaurants?mn=64 and search for Raglan Road.
With fairly inexpensive entrees and a fun atmosphere, Raglan Road is a good choice for lunch or dinner. Unlike a lot of Disney restaurants these days, they also have a dedicated lunch menu served through 3pm with less expensive options. Most/all of the dinner entrees are also available, so you might consider a 2:30pm reservation to save a few dollars.
A shoddy picture of the temporary bar setup outside the restaurant. I don’t think they do this every night, but it was a busy holiday weekend Saturday.
We’ll take a brief interlude at one of my favorite haunts, House of Blues.
For Happy Hour.
The usual $3.75 House Margarita.
And a Long Island Iced Tea. I’ve had a few pour quality “issues” here the last couple of times I’ve visited. The white haired gentleman that calls you “brother” and the guy that looks like he’s as high as a kite pour much stronger drinks than two of the younger female bartenders.
If the drink tastes mostly of sour mix, you can always switch to a beer. Thinking back, I don’t think I’ve ever had a Corona before. It’s just not something I’d buy.
And an Amstel Light, which at 3.5% ABV, is basically water. It’s about as inoffensive as beers get.
Otherwise, House of Blues gets two thumbs up from me, even with a couple of questionable drinks mixed in. They also offer happy hour at their outdoor bar, where music starts at 4pm.
Earlier in the day, Steve and I popped into Portobello for a quick lunch.
You may remember me raving about their meatball sliders, which are 3 for $5 at the bar. I don’t think there’s a better way to spend five dollars on property. They’re also available individually for $1.95. They’re $7.95 when ordered somewhere that isn’t the bar.
One thing I like about Portobello is that when you arrive at the bar, you’re greeted with a smile and a glass of water.
You may or may not be offered bread, garlic, and oil. I would imagine if it isn’t offered that you could request some. They have it. The garlic is a little different than your typical butter. We deemed the foccacia better than the standard dinner roll.
Their beer selection is rather mundane. The Birra Moretti La Rossa would be a wise choice. I like the Orlando Brewing beers pretty well and you’re not going to find them outside of the general Orlando area, so I’d be looking in that direction.
The Red Ale is kind of pedestrian as far as amber ales are concerned. It’s not particularly hoppy, but the light carbonation makes it easy to drink with food.
The Olde Pelican EPA is my favorite of the bunch. This is a summer-y Czech Pilsner that is absolutely delicious in the summer. Pilsner Urquel and Sierra Nevada’s Summerfest are two of the more well-known Czechs.
I should have taken a picture of the menu since it appears like what I ordered isn’t on any of the menus online. There it is. It’s the $11.95 SALSICCIA E CIPOLLE – Italian sausage, shaved red onion, mozzarella.
At the time, I was mentally comparing it to Wolfgang Puck Express and I think it holds up well. It’s a similar amount of food for a couple dollars less. It was served hot and had full cheese coverage. The toppings were a little centralized for my liking, but that seems like a minor quibble. The pizzas remain the same price at dinner – $10 – $12 and would be one of the least expensive ways to experience a sit-down meal at Downtown Disney.
The pasta entrees are much less expensive for lunch than dinner. This is the lunch portion of the Black Linguine with Florida Rock Shrimp – garlic, tomatoes, asparagus – $15.95. For dinner, the same entree is $24.95. I have admittedly never ordered the same item for lunch and dinner, but I can’t see the portion being any larger for dinner.
A pretty nominally priced meal.
This picture should look familiar. We’ll be unexpectedly returning to Portobello for dinner. Without a dinner reservation on Saturday February 9th, things were kind of hopeless. You’d be looking at a 60 minute wait for basically any restaurant. Cookes of Dublin was long out of tables. Portobello quoted 60 minutes for a table inside or 15 for a table outside. It was a chilly evening, but outdoor seating was about the only option. Looking back, popping into Splitsville may have been wiser.
We started with the SICILIAN EGGPLANT FRIES – Tomato basil sauce. At $7.95, the portion was large enough to share. The fries were lightly battered and fried and tasted heavenly dipped into the tomato basil sauce. I’d eat these anytime and they’d be a nice appetizer in the bar to pair with a drink.
I ordered the Rigatoni Calabrese – Italian sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, escarole $21.95 – I think. Or $12.95 for lunch.
The pasta was cooked a little too “al dente” for me. Like my broccoli, I tend to cook pasta thoroughly. The Italian sausage had a nice strong flavor, but the sauce otherwise seemed forgettable. I’d definitely visit Portobello for a less expensive lunch, but I think you can do better for $20+ for dinner.
Peggy ordered the Chicken Farfalle- snow peas, asparagus, tomatoes, parmigiano cream sauce – $12.95 for lunch or $21.95 for dinner. She was less impressed with hers, noting the sauce had basically dried on the pasta – indicative of something that’s been sitting under a heat lamp for a while.
The Penne Bolognese – slow cooked beef and pork meat sauce $18.95 for dinner or $12.95 for lunch. Steve may have to interject on this one, but he seemed to enjoy his dish more than Peggy.
My recommendation would be to visit Portobello during the lunch hour, when the same food is less expensive. But I realize that isn’t possible in most situations where you’re only visiting Disney for a week. Downtown Disney isn’t usually on people’s radars until Friday evening when they’ve visited the major theme parks and Magic Kingdom closes at 8pm.
Portobello was otherwise a pleasant meal, though it was a bit chilly out on the patio. I’m not sure what it is about Levy’s Restaurant servers that makes them so chatty, but they are a chatty bunch. Our server was busy chat chat chatting away with another table while all we wanted to do was eat eat eat.
The September 2013 operating schedule is still unavailable. Extra Magic Hours could be axed as soon as September, which may be the reason for the delay. But we’ll see.