By the morning of March 19, the thousands of thirsty people, having sang, danced, ate, drank and proclaimed their manifest Irish identity, will be gone. Raglan Road and its important corner of Disney Springs will once again be quiet.
Yes, the “Mighty” Saint-Patrick will have been celebrated there, from March 16 and throughout the weekend, as every year, having spilled into the streets during one of the biggest events in the country.
Yes there will have been music by people like Celtic rock Young Dubliners, the most traditional Maguires, Byrne Brothers and Reel Republic; all feminine Briste; home groups Out of the gap and the Raglan Root Coalition; and the group tribute to U2 Elevation.
Yes, there will have been jitter.
And God knows, yes there will have been beer: pints and pints of beer, from Ireland and elsewhere, including five varieties brewed especially for Mighty St. Patrick’s Day. If spirits are your preference, there will have been Bushmills, Jameson, Redbreast, Tullamore Dew and the rest, many available by age and flight.
But at the end of it all, the quintessential Central Florida pub will still be Irish, with no need for a hooley to celebrate the good, tasty and friendly on the Emerald Isle. St. Paddy’s – “St. Patty’s” is an insult – will have been celebrated there just because it’s a good excuse to bring people together.
As for the rest of what Americans expect from what started out as a religious observance, and not a major observance, don’t look at Raglan Road.
Leprechauns and shamrocks are poorly represented here, and if you want green beer, try Chicago. You also won’t find corned beef on the menu because, in the words of front desk manager Enda O’Connor from Killarney, “It’s not Irish. Irish-American, but not Irish.
Yes, you can order a burger or a salad, largely because such things are found on modern Irish menus, but the point is to show what real Irish food is, prepared and presented by people from all over the world. the island, or who understand it very well, very well.
Raglan Road is, after all, owned by a pair of Gaels, John Cooke and Paul Nolan, who have brought the whole place of Eire, carefully, to pieces. Its interior and exterior are decorated with various elements of Irish culture, including original paintings depicting artists such as Luke Kelly from Dubliners and Bono from U2, as well as James Joyce and Brendan Behan.
This statue at the front is not that of Joyce, but that of Patrick Kavanagh, who wrote the poem “On Raglan Road”.
Cooke and Nolan still do the transatlantic shuttle, and they understand Irish food as well as craic and the rest of Irish culture.
Their restaurant incorporates traditional dishes with twists of what is known as the ‘Irish Culinary Revolution’ that began in the 1990s and continues, with restaurants as destinations and some of the best young chefs on the planet. In 1971, five restaurants in Ireland received Michelin Guide stars; since 2011, 16 restaurants have been honored in this way.
Receiving his fair share of accolades, TV chef and restaurateur Kevin Dundon set the stage for Raglan Road to do what it does. His success being what he is in Europe and unable to continue to travel, he left the restaurant at the end of last year.
His successor and right-hand man, Herberto Segura, is one of the few non-Irish things about the place. Segura continues on the same path with executive sous chef and Waterford man James Guinan, operating what O’Connor happily declares “a kitchen to scratch.” Everything is prepared in-house here.
Provisions are locally sourced and seasonal, to the extent possible, continuing with one of Dundon’s main directives (or obsessions, depending on your level of knowledge). Cold-water seafood is flown daily from Foley Fish Market in Boston.
The result is that Raglan’s menu is rich in foods that Ireland eats, like boxty and a full Irish breakfast for brunch; Heavenly Ham (Irish Mist-Glazed Bacon Loin with Savoy Cabbage, Colcannon, Creamy Parsley Sauce, and Raisin Cider Juice; and It’s Not Bleedin ‘Chowder (large chunks of seafood in a creamy broth) ) For dinner.
The menu offers no less than 12 dishes based on fish or shellfish, from starters to main courses; pork, this Irish staple, is important. including Rack of Heaven (Irish ribs), It’s a Porker (lollipop chop) and Dalkey Duo (sausage with Dalkey mustard sauce); and there’s the Lambo (braised lamb shank).
There is a lot of braising in Raglan Road, because there is a lot of braising in Ireland. And yes, you can get your bangers and mash; your fried eggs coated with sausages; your meat pies; and your soda bread, and Raglan Road is famous for this dense, dark, and lightly salty great-grandma-style soda bread sliced with a cheese wire. “Not many people leave it in the basket,” says O’Connor.
Of course, the entertainment is also Irish, contracted through a company in Ireland and featuring people from across the island. The young Maguires are from Wicklow; the Byrne brothers are residents of Donegal; Reel Republic comes from the southwest (Cork and Kerry); and the members of Briste come from Armagh and Monaghan in Ulster.
For these and other reasons, Raglan Road is loved regionally as well as by the tourists who frequent it daily, and its inhabitants are not unheard of outside of Disney Springs, either.
“Ah, Nolan’s Irish pub; I’ve been there and we see people from Cocoa Beach (at Raglan Road) including the Nolans, ”O’Connor said happily.
“We love Raglan Road,” says Johnny Nolan of Wexford and now Cocoa Beach, the owner of Nolan, for whom pub ownership is a family tradition. “It’s a phenomenal example of what an Irish pub can be, especially in a modern sense. Raglan Road takes the Irish pub to a new level.
He also shows the way for others. Nolan plans to install a full kitchen in his establishment which will also allow him to serve traditional dishes, but for the moment, lighter dishes, fine whiskeys and beer – never green in color there either – are served with entertainment.
“Enda is right,” Nolan said with a chuckle. “We don’t do anything like that either. Usually the only people who don’t wear green on St. Patrick’s Day are the Irish.
“The energy starts with the shows, at dinner,” says O’Connor, and gestures towards the dancers typing in the background. “But Raglan Road is still Irish, where drinks are still served in glasses and the food and entertainment is authentic. No corned beef and no green beer. We are Irish.
Mighty St. Patrick’s Day
What: A celebration of all that is Irish
When: 12 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. on March 16 and 10 a.m. to 1:30 a.m. on March 17 and 18
Or: Raglan Road, Disney Springs
Entertainment: Young Dubliners, Elevation (U2), the Maguires, Briste, the Byrne Brothers, Raglan Roots Coalition, Out the Gap and the Raglan Road Irish Dancers.
Cost: $ 10 cover charge on March 17; First come, first served
Food: Lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays; bar menu from 11 p.m. to late; Rollicking Raglan Brunch from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Contact: www.raglanroad.com or 407-938-0300
Dowling is a Central Brevard-based freelance writer.