Raglan Road (In Ireland!): An Interview with Chef Kevin Dundon

Welcome to our final report about Disney Food Blog’s recent trip to Ireland for the #RaglanRoadTrip!

Raglan Road. Like, the Real Place.

Raglan Road. Like, the Real Place.

From my time in Dublin, to checking out local producers of fresh ingredients, to spending time in the kitchen with Chef Kevin, it was a first hand look into what inspires this popular Downtown Disney restaurant.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was sitting down and speaking with Chef Kevin Dundon, who launched Raglan Road.

Chef Kevin Dundon at Dunbrody House

Chef Kevin Dundon at Dunbrody House

Today, I’d like to share a bit of that conversation with you.

Interview with Raglan Road’s Chef Kevin Dundon

DFB: Let’s talk about the story of Raglan Road. I know that you and your partners have written a book that talks about how it all started. But is there anything that you’d like to expand upon?

Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant

Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant

KD: Raglan Road was probably one of the most challenging projects to pull off. First, because of its location being in Disney, it had to be family friendly; second, the size of a 600 seat restaurant; third — to get the quality I’m looking for all of the time; and fourth — probably the most important one for me — was sourcing the ingredients. That’s still my biggest challenge, and I’m a stickler for it. But we’ve succeeded. We’ve got great suppliers at Raglan.

But the other thing that really makes it what it is — is my passion for food. My belief in being consistent. I think it’s so important that we maintain that Ethos of Irish food.

DFB: So, let’s talk a little bit about this experience, bringing homecooks to Ireland. Why this 10th anniversary contest?

KD: Ten years is a milestone. We wanted to celebrate that, and we have a lot of loyal customers at Raglan Road. So we asked, “How can we involve them in this tenth birthday?” And Paul [Nolan, one of Raglan Road’s partners] the genius [behind the idea], suggested doing a Master Chef Competition. And it came together from there — choose five winners, and bring them to Ireland, along with five bloggers to document the whole trip. So it comes back to our message, our Ethos — in terms of our beliefs, where we source food, how important it is for us, and how important it is for people to see how Irish food has progressed. Raglan Road isn’t just a myth. It’s not something that John [Cooke], Paul, and I made up. It’s actually authentically Irish. It’s totally true and honest.

DFB: Let’s turn our attention to the contest itself and the recipes that the finalists created. We’ve talked about the fact that the recipes served as inspiration for the tenth anniversary private celebration menu. Is there any plan to share them in other ways?

Winners and Writers at Dunbrody House in Ireland (photo by Raglan Road photographer Ivan Cummins)

Winners and Writers at Dunbrody House in Ireland (photo by Raglan Road photographer Ivan Cummins)

KD: I’m so impressed with the ideas. There were many elements of their menus that I really liked. So I looked at their ideas, and I took inspiration from them. Because it’s important that they’re very much involved in the menu, but it’s also a case of respecting our Ethos. And I saw how each course evolved into something spectacular. So I’m actually contemplating using some of the elements for both the private and Signature Dinners this October.

Winner Colleen Applying What She's Learned

Winner Colleen Applying What She’s Learned

DFB: Will everyone have a chance to enjoy these dishes? Do you foresee using them in a cookbook or a column?

KD: Yes. Some of the dishes could go onto the Raglan Road menu as specials during the time of our tenth anniversary celebration. And you can expect to see recipes on our Facebook page, on my website, and in our monthly newsletter as well.

DFB: Where do you want to see Raglan Road go from here?

KD: We’ve been there for ten years, and we’ve never sat on our laurels. We’re always upgrading, we’re always thinking of special things. Our ambition in 2015 is to make 10 changes to mark our tenth birthday. We’ve already started rolling them out, with the new cocktail menu. And we’re planning new china, and you’ll see updates to the patio as well.

Raspy Old Fashioned

Raspy Old Fashioned, One of Our Favorite New Raglan Road Cocktails

KD: As far as where it’s going…Raglan Road will always evolve, because that’s its nature. We’re creative people, and it would be very complacent and easy to just sit there and watch it coast. But you see too many restaurants doing that. And they just fall apart. Our goal is to make it just as great always as it has been up to this point.

DFB: Do you think you’ll continue to offer retail and entertainment?

KD: Definitely. Entertainment is a huge part of our business. That’s one of our core passions, and it will never go away. Even when the recession hit, we made a conscious decision to up the music, to up the dancing. Entertainment is going nowhere.

Raglan Road Dancers

Raglan Road Dancers

And the celebration of their 10th Anniversary has only just begun. Be sure to stay tuned to the Disney Food Blog and Raglan Road’s website for more information on the Great Irish Hooley coming up in September and more events honoring this milestone in the restaurant’s history!

Is Raglan Road a favorite Disney dining destination for you? Leave a comment and tell us your thoughts!

DFB was invited to Ireland by Raglan Road to cover the Master Chef Competition. DFB was not required to write about or promote Raglan Road. You can see more information in our disclosure policy.

Update: Raglan Road Master Chef Competition

It’s a big week for us here at Disney Food Blog! While AJ has been busy reporting to you LIVE from the kickoff of Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary Celebration, I’m in Ireland with Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant!

Cod Cornucopia at Raglan Road Irish Pub in Disney Springs

Cod Cornucopia at Raglan Road Irish Pub in Disney Springs

But what does that have to do with Disney, Brooke?

Haha — Excellent question!

As we previously reported, Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant will celebrate its Tenth Anniversary this Fall, and they’re doing it up BIG! To mark the occasion, they sponsored a Raglan Road Master Chef Contest. Read more about it here.

Welp — the five finalists have traveled to Ireland to spend time soaking up the atmosphere, fine tuning their culinary skills, and honing their attention to detail with Master Chef Kevin Dundon!

Raglan Road tries to bring a slice of authentic, contemporary Ireland straight to Walt Disney World. We see it in the decor of the pub and their menu. We’ve had the opportunity to dine at some of Chef Kevin Dundon’s favorite spots that provide inspiration for the menus at Raglan Road, including brunch at Herb Street in the heart of Dublin.

Herb Street in the Heart of Dublin

Herb Street in the Heart of Dublin

But I couldn’t leave Dublin without a stroll on Raglan Road, the street that inspired the poem…that inspired the song…that inspired the Pub that we all know and love.

Raglan Road. Like, the Real Place.

Raglan Road. Like, the Real Place.

Today, we leave Dublin and head for County Wexford, where we’ll spend time watching the Raglan Road master chef finalists hone their skills at Chef Kevin Dundon’s Dunbrody Country House Hotel. Hopefully we’ll get to know what makes Raglan Road tick.

Thanks for following along!

I’m traveling to Ireland on behalf of Disney Food Blog, courtesy of Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant, but my opinions and viewpoints are my own. Please see our disclosure policy for more information.

Raglan Road Irish Pub Named 2014 Best Restaurant by Orlando Magazine

Raglan Road Irish Pub and Restaurant is one of our favorite stops in all of Disney World (check out our most recent review here!). And now we know we certainly aren’t alone in that opinion!

Orlando Magazine has recently announced its annual Dining Awards for 2014, and the Downtown Disney restaurant has taken the coveted top spot for Orlando’s Best Restaurant.

Writer Joseph Hayes credits Chef Kevin Dundon’s energy and menu influence with the success of Raglan Road. But it’s more than that, he says.

The restaurant, a series of faithfully restored bars and furnishings from ancient Old Country pubs, has the feel of a genuinely family-run restaurant (which it is). It gives Dundon a place to use traditional recipes and farm-fresh ingredients as a leaping point for new, satisfying and occasionally surprising ideas such as a killer twist on smoked haddock & Dubliner cheese dip or a wine-infused broth and seafood he calls ‘It’s not bleedin’ Chowder!’ The combination of New Irish cuisine, a pint of ale and a wink from a high-stepping Irish lass is hard to beat.

Keen Eye for Shepherd's Pie

Keen Eye for Shepherd’s Pie

Chef Kevin received the news by phone while at home in Ireland, and expressed his gratitude to fans of the restaurant. “We’re very proud of this honor and want to thank [Read more…]

Review: Raglan Road at Downtown Disney Orlando

In the mood for comfort food with a twist? Then we have just the lunch review for you today — Raglan Road at Walt Disney World’s Downtown Disney!

Even though there’s no live entertainment during the day, stopping by the Irish pub for a bite of lunch is a great idea if you really want to take in the beautiful decor and have a truly relaxing meal.

If you’d like to see more about our most recent visit, read on.

Atmosphere

When we say that Raglan Road is an Irish pub, we mean it. Like, parts-of-it-were-brought-from-Ireland authentic. There’s more than just fancy Disney Imagineering going on here.

Raglan Road -- Outside

Raglan Road — Outside

Once you enter through the front doors, the hostess podium is forward and to your left. Head out the left-hand door just before it, and you’ll be seated on the outdoor patio, which boasts its own bar and often, its own entertainment.

Entrance Foyer

Entrance Foyer

To your right is a charming gift shop that stocks a host of Raglan Road-themed products. You’ll also find goods from Ireland, all manner of merch bearing the logo of Guinness beer. There’s beautiful jewelry, pantry items, cookbooks, and more. It’s a wonderful spot to browse.

Gift Shop

Gift Shop

The Master Chef here at Raglan is Kevin Dundon, and you’ll find his cookbooks — including the brand new one — at the gift shop. On my last visit, Chef Dundon was in town and came out to chat with my family! So fun! What an honor. :-)

Kevin Dundon's in the House!

Kevin Dundon’s in the House!

Bar seating in this pub is extensive. With two bars, your chances of finding an empty seat are decent at night (and great during the day). And the bar is fully part of the pub — there’s no separate bar area — so you can enjoy the entertainment from tables or bars, whichever you prefer.

The bars themselves are 130 years old, and were brought to the US from Ireland!

Oneof the Two Bars

One of the Two Bars

Other materials were either salvaged in Ireland, or were crafted there. The sense of antiquity is enhanced by plenty of rich, dark wood and brass trim.

One of the Two Bars

Bar Number Two

And this is a pub! So you can expect a wide range of beer, whiskey, and other spirits available for your enjoyment. Lots of the beer options are available on tap, but selections change up regularly, so be sure to ask about the current options.

Draught Beers

Draught Beers

The dancing podium stands in the center of the circular dining space, and solo dances by different members of the Irish step dancing troupe are performed here to live music. You can also catch dance performances on the stage in front of the fireplace, which has been enlarged since I took this photo.

Leaded glass above lets in plenty of light, and tints it in rosy, cool colors during the day.

Dancing Podium and Live Music Stage at Raglan Road

Dancing Podium and Live Music Stage at Raglan Road

The cupola soars, letting in even more light. The high ceilings, bare wood, and tile floors also ensure that [Read more…]