I took a trip down to Raglan Road last Sunday to try the Irish restaurant’s new brunch menu, and I ended up enjoying some pretty tasty food and rousing live entertainment.
The brunch menu isn’t extensive by any means, and those of you who equate Sunday brunch with an all-you-can-eat glutfest buffet will be disappointed to know it’s an a la carte affair.
There are only about 10 items on the designated brunch menu, although the restaurant’s regular menu flows beneath those items, so there should be plenty to choose from. But I was there to try to the brunch, so I confined my attention to the 10.
I selected the full Irish breakfast, which has the same mystique around it as the full English breakfast. That is, no one knows why either is called “full” -- other than that is what you’ll be if you eat it all -- or why it is comprised of the components it is. For the full Irish, those components are fried eggs, sausage, black and white pudding, Irish bacon (really more like ham, or what we call Canadian bacon), a small roasted tomato, potatoes and sauteed mushrooms. (The full English is pretty much the same, though the white pudding is usually deleted and baked beans are added.) I’ve done all sorts of research on this topic and cannot find any historical reasoning why these breakfasts contain the items that they do. So I’ve learned to just relax and enjoy them.
This isn’t a breakfast that is going to show the kitchen’s versatility, but it does show a commitment to quality. The eggs were a perfect sunny-side up with two bright yellow domes just waiting to be pricked. The ham/bacon was the first thing I plopped into the egg yolks, a nice blend. The sausage and mushrooms were, well, sausage and mushrooms. The black pudding -- a name that is likely more acceptable than blood pudding, which is what it is -- had a terrific earthy flavor and crumbly consistency, probably due to oatmeal in the mix. The white pudding, a specialty of Ireland, is made with pig but without the pig’s blood.
My brunch companion chose the eggs en cocotte, which featured eggs baked in a small casserole (cocotte in French) with spinach, mushrooms and Dubliner cheddar cheese in the mix. It was served with little logs of toast, called soldiers in Irish parlance (although I prefer my soldiers standing at attention rather than stacked like, well, pieces of sliced toast, but that’s just me). It was rich, creamy and delicious -- and much more imaginative than my selection.
For dessert we shared the bread and butter pudding, which was brought to the table in the large cup that it was baked in and inverted onto the serving plate with demi pitchers of butterscotch and cream sauces. It was perfectly custardized and impossibly buttery.
I also couldn’t resist giving the restaurant’s signature bloody mary, which is pretty much like a conventional bloody mary until they add a topping of Guinness. I can usually take a couple of sips of a bloody mary until it becomes too overwhelming. This one was interesting, but ultimately was just another bloody in my book.
While we ate, we enjoyed the guitar, fiddle and keyboard music, often joined by six dancers doing that type of Irish step dancing that keeps the legs moving at break-neck speed while the upper body pretty much stays put. It was very entertaining.
And our server was terrific. He was just the sort of server you hope to find at a Disney-property restaurant. He knew all the basics of good service, raised the level a bit more, but didn’t get all treacly or cloy about it.
Raglan Road is a humongous restaurant. Some of it was built in Ireland and dismantled and shipped to America. I don’t know why. And I don’t think it matters. What matters is whether you will find good food and have a good time. The answer is yes to both.
Raglan Road is at Downtown Disney. Sunday brunch is served from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. (entertainment begins at noon). Here is a link to the Raglan Road website, which features an annoying figure who talks at you every time you click a page. (It isn’t immediately apparent, but the mute button is near the guy’s mouth -- but beware, even if you mute him on one page, he’ll start talking again on the next one.) The phone number is 407-938-0300.