LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- A true slice of Ireland comes to Walt Disney World Resort with the opening of Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Downtown Disney Pleasure Island. Owned and operated by an Irish company, Raglan Road features the very best of authentic Irish food, drink, heritage and live entertainment.
The Irish culture is known for its warmth, character and hospitality, and Raglan Road delivers an experience immersed in genuine Irish ambiance. With capacity for 600 guests, Raglan Road is warm and welcoming with custom furnishings, lighting and wall coverings -- all designed and built in Ireland by Irish craftspeople. Irish antiques, ornamentation and bric-a-brac complete the authentic décor.
Four distinct antique bars, each more than 130 years old and imported from Ireland, serve as focal gathering areas. These grand fixtures were crafted from rich woods, such as mahogany and walnut, and feature marble adornments, leaded glass and ornate detailing. To complete the authenticity, and in keeping with tradition, a wide selection of cold, creamy and fresh Irish beers and fine Irish whiskies will be served.
Traditional and contemporary Irish music, storytelling and dance help create a spirited social ambience, and the friendly pub staff brings Emerald Isle charm to Downtown Disney. Irish musicians entertain nightly and guests are encouraged to sing, clap and dance to the lively performances.
The restaurant's gastronomic delights are the creation of Master Chef Kevin Dundon, one of Ireland's best-known and most celebrated chefs. With training in Ireland, Switzerland and Canada, Dundon has cooked for celebrities and heads of state, including Queen Elizabeth. His credits also include opening an award-winning Irish hotel and restaurant, appearing in his own television series on UK Food Channel, making numerous national television appearances in the U.S., U.K. and Canada, authoring the cookbook "Full On Irish" and being invited to cook at the prestigious James Beard Foundation in New York.
The Raglan Road menu offers bistro-style Irish fare and fresh ingredients, all with a modern flair and Celtic creativity. Natural tastes, flavor and quality prevail in dishes such as Raglan Rack (rack of lamb on a delicate Irish stew consommé), Kevin's Kudos (oven-roasted loin of bacon with an Irish mist glaze, served with braised cabbage and creamed potato) and Salmon of Knowledge (fresh grilled salmon with a hickory-scented maple sauce).
For guests wanting food to go, Cooke's of Dublin is a counter service location adjacent to Raglan Road where fish and chips and other quick and casual fare are available. There is also a retail location that offers Raglan Road and Irish-designed clothing and merchandise.
"We are thrilled to introduce an authentic Irish pub to Downtown Disney," said Djuan Rivers, vice president of Downtown Disney. "The superior level of quality, authenticity and energy that this new venue brings is a perfect complement to Downtown Disney's lineup of world-class retail, dining and entertainment."
"Having built more than 400 Irish pubs, literally in the four corners of the world, we believe that this is our best expression yet," said Paul Nolan, Raglan Road co-owner. "We are incredibly proud and excited to have the opportunity to bring a real slice of Ireland to Downtown Disney."
The "real" Raglan Road is located on the south side of Dublin. It was made famous by renowned Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh in a love poem entitled, "The Dawning of the Day." In the 1960s, Irish folk singer Luke Kelly first put the poem to music. "Raglan Road" has become a seminal Irish song and has since been covered by such artists as U2, Sinead O'Connor and Van Morrison. As a tribute to Patrick Kavanagh, a specially commissioned bronze sculpture of the poet sits outside Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Downtown Disney.
Raglan Road is owned and operated by Great Irish Pubs Florida, Inc., the Irish-owned company that previously created Nine Fine Irishmen at the New York-New York Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas.
Pleasure Island club admission is not required for entrance to Raglan Road.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The shepherd's pie is Angus beef and the Colorado lamb comes with a rich port wine sauce that takes three days to create. The fish is flown in fresh daily from Boston, creatively sauced or crisped in a delicate beer batter.
This isn't your uncle's Irish pub.
"We left corned beef and cabbage behind 50 years ago," said Paul Nolan, co-owner of Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant at Downtown Disney. "Ireland is one of the richest and most sophisticated countries in the world, and our attitude toward food is much more expansive."
Everything is fresh on the menu at Raglan Road, the new Irish pub and restaurant at Downtown Disney Pleasure Island. Celebrated Irish chef Kevin Dundon is behind the superb cuisine, and calls the concept "fine dining standards in a casual context -- with Celtic creativity."
Chef Dundon has cooked for notables such as Queen Elizabeth, U2 and Brad Pitt. He is best known for his own television series on the UK Food Channel and as proprietor of the prestigious Dunbrody Country House Hotel & Restaurant in southeast Ireland.
"The menu is contemporary, but you'll still find Irish classics at Raglan Road," said Dundon. The diverse dishes all start with high-quality ingredients," he explained.
"We know the ship and skipper's name for each fish, and the Irish bacon is from a local butcher," he continued. "Choice ingredients are the heart of each dish, all fresh, nothing frozen."
There's plenty of upscale bar food for noshing, like smoked salmon and cream cheese served with blinis, scallops with a lime dipping sauce and battered cocktail sausages served with a mustard dip -- bite-sized servings all cleverly presented on upright forks. The decadent "Smokie City" is layers of smoked cod and Wexford cheddar and double cream, served with crusty bread for dipping. Little crocks of pate with chutney are perfect with a creamy dark ale.
The roast rack of lamb arrives with a light, broth-based Irish stew. An indulgent loin of bacon is glazed with Irish Mist and served with creamy potatoes and braised cabbage. And, of course, there are beer-battered fish and chips with a side of tartar sauce.
For sweet endings, the Dunbrody Kiss, a decadent chocolate mousse with a crunchy caramel base drizzled with chocolate ganache sauce, is irresistible. Other favorites include bread-and-butter pudding with butterscotch and crème anglaise and a Baileys coffee cream pot.
"We're taking Irish food to a new level," explained Dundon. Chef Brian Kenney, who trained in Ireland with Dundon, is at the helm of the Raglan Road kitchen. Dundon was pivotal in setting up the kitchen, creating the menu and training the staff, and will travel from Ireland several times a year. When he's away, Dundon communicates with the staff via a Web camera installed in the 21st century kitchen.
To complete the authenticity and complement the tradition, a full selection of Irish stouts, lagers, creamy ales and premium spirits is served. Add nightly live music by a band direct from Ireland and the true Irish ambiance is complete.
"Raglan Road is authentic in every way," said Nolan, who hails from Dublin. "It's like lifting a pub from Ireland and dropping it in Orlando. It oozes Irishness."