Usually if I talk about shipping down from Boston for dinner, I’m referring to the guest, not the entree. The opposite is true at Raglan Road—the staple Irish Pub at Disney Springs—where freshly caught fish arrives every few days from New England. But carefully selected seafood is just part of the pub’s dedication to serving up fresh ingredients and authentic Irish entertainment. Raglan’s menus were recently upgraded with a slew of new food and drink offerings to reflect this pursuit.
“Within the past few months,” says Public Relations Coordinator Jennie Hess, “we’ve added: Chunky Monk beer battered monkfish and zucchini chips, Drunk Mussels, Bangin’ Bangers and Mighty Mash, Pork Blah Blaa, Fall Seasonal Risotto with butternut squash (it changes seasonally). Lamb Stew and the Joycean Club sandwich.”
From the bar — as of Dec. 17 — guests can also pick up two new signature cocktails with gin and vodka from the Dingle Distilerry in Kerry, Ireland. The Pride of the Peninsula is their take on the gin and tonic, garnished with cucumber and mint, and their new espresso martini called the Daingean Espressotini adds banana liqueur and Dark Creme de Cacao to the mix.
These drinks represent the latest addition to Raglan Road’s pursuit of authentic Irish pub experiences, as visitors would be hard-pressed to find Dingle spirits at another bar this side of the pond. The small batch distillery’s specialties include a quintuple-distilled vodka and a gin made with a unique blend of botanicals local to the Kerry landscape.
“Irish hospitality is famed the world over,” says Paul Nolan, who co-owns Raglan Road with fellow Irishman John Cooke.
“We run Raglan like we’d run any good Irish restaurant from home,” says Nolan. “Our philosophy is to never take your customer for granted, keep them intrigued and enthused by constantly evolving our menus, and keep our Irish chefs engaged and enthused by constantly evolving menus.”
For the traditionalists, Raglan’s kitchen covers the basics like fish and chips and their full bar features the expected pints of guinness or hard ciders.
“All our food is cooked fresh in-house, and we’re the number one Guinness seller in the USA,” says Nolan, “in part due to our Irish beer dispense system which delivers far better quality.”
Beyond the expected, Raglan’s menu surprises the palette with contemporary dishes like “The Big Q,” a red quinoa and white bean burger with Dubliner cheddar, grilled zucchini, herb aioli and tomato chutney on a wholegrain bun. The bar also offers a selection of signature brews developed with local Orlando craft breweries and Irish brewers.
This fresh and extensive menu is served up in an energetic dining room or patio where live entertainment is scheduled seven days a week. The stage is where guests might find Scottish fiddler, Cameron Ross, one of Raglan Road’s regular entertainers. Recently, he advanced to the finals of a prestigious competition in Scotland, the BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician contest.
“It’s absolutely a huge honor – I didn’t expect to get into the finals because the standard has always been extremely high,” says Ross, who returns to Scotland Jan. 25-27 for the finals to be held at the Celtic Connections Festival. Cameron plays on Raglan Road’s stage five to six days each week late nights with the Raglan Roots Coaltion.
If the dining room where this all takes place feels somehow “more Irish” than the typical stateside Irish pub, that might be because the entire thing was actually built in Dublin by Irish craftspeople using Irish woods, glass, tile, brass, furniture, and mirrors. It was then dismantled, shipped to Orlando, and reassembled in its present location in the Landing area of Disney Springs when it was still known as Downtown Disney. According to Nolan, Raglan Road even imports Irish management and staff.
“Authenticity is key to our success since opening in 2005,” says Nolan, adding that he and Cooke are both from Dublin. “Raglan Road feels like a local place because it’s run by the two of us. We’re on-site frequently. Our interiors were imported from Ireland.”
Keen eyed guests might enjoy a survey of these interiors. Imported antiques are integrated into the design at almost every turn. The wooden paneling on the walls come from Victorian-era homes in Dublin that had been slated for replacement or demolition. The dancer’s stage in the center of the main dining room was once a preacher’s pulpit. One of the bars was built from a salvaged Dublin apothecary shop — its drawers still labeled for their original contents.
Outside, guests might find an open seat on the bench next to a bronze statue of Irish poet Patrick Kavanaugh, erected as a nod to the original along the banks of Dublin’s Grand Canal. Before leaving, consider that only after his chance meeting at a Dublin pub with a musician did one of Kavanaugh’s 1946 poems became the iconic folk song, “On Raglan Road.”