Monday, April 1, 2013

The full Irish Brunch: Raglan Road Review, a Downtown Disney restaurant and bar

It's April, and I'm sure you won't be thinking about Irish food for at least the next 11 months. No one seems to eat pumpkin pie in May or candy canes in June or drink eggnog in July either. It just doesn't seem right. Well, it's time we broke with tradition and enjoyed Irish food and drink all year round. Let's just remember to over-indulge in March as always.

I recently met up with a few local bloggers for a Sunday Brunch at Raglan Road, an Irish Pub and Restaurant located at Downtown Disney. No one felt the need to wear green or wear silly beads around their necks. No one threw up and no one got drunk and started speaking in an Irish accent. Eating Irish in April does have it's benefits.

The "Rollicking Raglan Sunday Brunch," new for 2013, is served every Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and features live music from Irish house band Creel and performances by the Raglan Road Dancers, a troupe of pros who pound out foot-stomping jigs and some real fancy footwork. It's loud and it's fun.

This isn't the Irish food you've eaten before. It's not your old school corn beef and cabbage. Served with a modern twist, as envisioned by Master Chef Kevin Dundon, the brunch menu covers everything from a full Irish breakfast to smoked salmon omelets to pancakes with a crème fraiche, maple syrup and a mixed berry compote. You can order from the lunch or dinner menu as well, and there are several signature cocktails served just for brunch. Yes, Guinness too.

I started with a Bloody Mary, even though I'm not a Bloody Mary kind of person. We're branching out here, remember? This was a good one, with a very spicy kick and a splash of Guinness -- what else?

First up, my guest and I chose an appetizer: the Dalkey Duo ($12). Small, batter-fried cocktail sausages were served on the ends of upright forks in a special tray. Accompanied by a Dalkey mustard dipping sauce, this was a traditional Irish dish served in a surprising way: fun and delicious.

For the main dish, my guest chose Kevin's Ham Schnitzel ($19). A fried egg was served atop a breaded and fried ham schnitzel accompanied by an order of chips, er, fries. I grabbed a bite of ham, and it was fried to crisp perfection. Just about anything fried is great (note to self: try the fried candy bar next door at Cookes of Dublin sometime), but a perfectly-seasoned slab of ham fried is a delight. My guest noted, however, that a few strawberries on the side, or maybe some applesauce would have been a nice addition to the plate and a respite from all the fried items.

I chose the Full Irish breakfast ($19). I guess I like a little bit of everything. With sausages, black and white pudding, bacon, mushrooms, two eggs (over easy -- my choice), a roasted tomato, and potato roasties, I got just what I ordered - a bit of everything.

For those of you who don't know, black pudding, or blood pudding, is a type of sausage made by cooking dried blood down until it thickens and congeals into a filler for a sausage casing. It's an acquired taste, as they say, but I've acquired it somehow. There wasn't a bite of food left on my plate.

Other brunch items include Irish Oatmeal, Eggs en Cocotte, and Eggs Benedict. But if you're dining at Raglan Road for the full Irish experience, you've got to order the full Irish breakfast.

Irish food is hearty and filling, but what the heck, let's eat some more. Raglan Road treated our table to a real Irish treat, the traditional Sunday Roast known here as "Host the Roast."

Available only for Sunday Brunch, the meal is reminiscent of the great Sunday lunch when Irish families sat down together to celebrate and catch up on family time. It includes a carved, premium signature roast served with a variety of sides including sweet and sour carrots, green beans, potato roasties, pomme au gratin (cheesy spuds) and choice of a family style dessert: Gran Marnier fruit and custard trifle or baked strawberry and apple crumble. There's also a gluten free option available.

Each order is priced per person depending on the roast. The roast we tried was pork loin ($47), and it was just about as tender and juicy as pork gets. The roast of the week can also include roast rib of beef ($55), roast stuffed leg of lamb ($45) or roast lemon thyme chicken ($35). Call ahead for reservations before 6 p.m. on Saturday, minimum of 6 guests. Phone: 407-938-0300.

For dessert, Ger's Bread and Butter Pudding ($8.50) was incredible. Save room for dessert!

Of course there's a full bar, with a fantastic assortment of draft beers on tap -- all served on aged mahogany and walnut bars from old Irish bars and churches that were built in Ireland and shipped to Orlando.

So if it's April, or May, or June, or July, or any month of the year, make sure you head to Raglan Road for a fantastic Irish feast and what I would consider the best bar and/or pub on Disney property. And maybe one of the best restaurants. I was truly impressed.

5 Pots of Gold out of 5

Note: I dined compliments of Raglan Road

Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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