Having spent the night in Lake City, we arrived in Orlando around late morning on Thursday. We grabbed some lunch at a place that wasn't review-worthy, checked into our resort, and made a bee line for Disney's Art of Animation resort to check out the Cars area. I'll write about both our resort and the Disney resorts we visited in another post. This post is about our first dinner in Orlando, which was at Raglan Road at Downtown Disney. The first thing that hit me about Raglan Road, after seeing the pretty Irish dancing girls hanging out in the entryway greeting customers that is, was how absolutely packed it was, even at 5:30. Due to traffic caused by construction delaying my wife's sister and brother-in-law, I got to spend a lot of time wandering around the shop just outside the restaurant and worry if we would ever get a table. Luckily, though, we were seated soon after they arrived since my wife had made reservations for us. We followed the hostess, weaving our way around a line of Irish dancing girls performing for a large table of people, and were eventually seated right in front of and just off to the side of the main stage.
Our server took our drink orders and made my day when I asked if they had Magners. His response was, "Yes sir, would you like apple or pear?" I didn't know Magners made a pear cider, so I ordered one. It was delightful. So good, in fact, that I quickly ordered a second with a glass of ice over which to pour it.
I love Magners apple cider on draft, and while I'm not ready to declare that Magers pear is better in every way, it was better for me on that night. Lighter and a bit sweeter, it was exactly what I needed after a hot day in the sun. I mentioned it on Twitter and Facebook and a couple of buddies confirmed they liked it as well. I can only imagine they didn't mention it to me in the past because they knew I would be sad without access to it in Knoxville.
When it came time to order, I did a double-take at the prices. We hadn't eaten at a Disney restaurant in several years, so I had forgotten how pronounced the "Disney Tax" can be. Still, we were on vacation and I had expected to pay more for meals in Orlando than I typically do back home, so I ordered my usual at any Irish place - Bangers & Mash - called Bangers and Booz on the menu.
Strangely enough, the Bangers & Mash at Raglan Road come in a bowl with a ladle of beef stew mixed in with them. The beef stew was quite good, and I would have been satisfied with it on its own any other night, but it was more than a little odd as a part of this dish. Were I to order it again, I'd ask for it on the side, as I didn't care for it mixing with the potatoes. The bangers, however, were outstanding. I commented both to the rest of the table and to the manager when he came by that, as good as the bangers are at my favorite Irish place in Nashville, McNamara's, these were better. The mashed potatoes were very good as well.
My wife and son split the Fish & Chips. I didn't think to snap a picture of it because I was still too giddy at trying Magners pear cider for the first time, but I did try the fish and it was quite good.
While we ate, we were able to enjoy two types of entertainment. The house band, The Brayzen Heads, was playing. They were good, if not quite awesome. I am a sucker for banjo music, however, so I really liked the songs they played that made heavy use of it. I grew up in Nashville, so it's my habit to always tip a band I like, and they were offering CD's for $10 each. I picked up a copy of "Floored" and have been enjoying listening to it as I write this review. In addition to the band, a group of Irish dancers, mostly young women but sometimes with a young man, would make their way either to the main stage or to a tall table near us. I'm not a huge fan of their feet stomping style of dance, but they were lively and our son certainly enjoyed it. At one point the young women gathered up some kids from the audience and danced with them on stage, and as a parent I got a kick out of that.
For dessert, we ordered The Bread and Butter Pudding, and I made a big mistake here. Bread pudding is my favorite dessert, and when my wife suggested she and our son could just share mine, I shook my head and said definitely not - they needed to order a separate one. You may not be able to tell it from the picture, but the serving of bread pudding was enormous; easily enough for three people to share - even if one of them is a two year-old with a bottomless tummy for sweets. So we each ate about half of our respective servings and enjoyed leftover dessert at the resort for the next couple of days.
The bread pudding was delicious. Lighter and fluffier than I'm used to, and the heavy cream and caramel sauce were delightful. It may be hard to believe, but I'm not really fond of sweets or desserts, but when I come across something this good, I add it to my short list of "must-have" dishes.
We had a great meal at Raglan Road, and I'd happily eat there again. The only thing that dampened the experience for me was the Disney Tax. There's simply no reason why a couple of sausages, some mashed potatoes, and a ladle of beef stew should cost $19. They were great, but I would have plenty of meals outside Disney's property over this vacation that were just as good, for consistently less money. Still, we were on vacation and not unfamiliar with how inflated Disney food prices are, so I just mention that as something to be aware of, not a reason to avoid Raglan Road. When you go visit the Mouse, you pay his tax, after all.