After a busy day at Living Without's Gluten-Free Food Allergy Fest in Lakeland, the short drive to Downtown Disney was a welcome escape from being in the same convention center for a full day, and I knew I couldn't wait to get real food to eat after nibbling on snack food and sweets all day. Not realizing beforehand that my birthday dinner would fall during their week-long Mighty St. Patrick's Festival, I was discouraged by the hearty crowd, but soon relaxed as the infectious live music and party atmosphere won me over.
I was thankful I had the presence of mind to make a reservation through Open Table online a month out because despite being given a buzzer to alert us to our reservation time, we were seated pretty speedily. As we were seated, our waitress came out shortly after and inquired first and foremost if anyone in our dining party had dietary restrictions- without my prompting or informing them beforehand. That's right, they proactively accommodate us special diets diners, and do it without embarrassing us or asking us to clarify to finite detail what we can and cannot eat. After letting her know I am gluten and dairy-free, she began to list off options that would be safe.
Before arriving, I had communicated back and forth with the restaurant via email, and was given an allergen breakdown of the various dishes served. What's great about Raglan, is that most of their menu is, or can be made to be, gluten and dairy-free. After scouring the menu in advance, I had my heart set on the Raglan risotto, but also was feeling a little adventurous and decided to try fish 'n' chips as an appetizer. Growing up, I adored fish 'n' chips and ordered them every time we'd visit. After at least five years removed from the dish, I felt it was about time for a reunion. For those wondering, the restaurant does have a dedicated fryer, so no worries about cross contamination.
After placing my order, the waitress promised to check once more with the chef to make sure everything was cleared for launch. As we waited, the restaurant's signature entertainment started up with live musicians and Irish dancers on hand to amaze and delight. The place gets rockin' during the dinner hour, so be prepared to clap, sing, and shout to understand your tablemates. It's great fun, and it soon feels like the restaurant is as intimate as a neighborhood pub in Ireland. The manager came out and let me know that everything was cleared, and checked on us, another example of exceptional service.
The fish 'n' chips came out relatively quickly and were announced as "allergy fish and chips" by the runner. Resting completely assured that the kitchen handled them right, I took right to the fish. The fish itself is delicious and flaky, and so tender you can cut it with a fork. The batter contrasted nicely with it's satisfying crunch and golden flavor that had me singing its praises after only one bite. Just how I remembered it, Raglan Road served up authentic fish and chips- and pretty darn good ones at that.
As I am not a chips (french fry) eater, I let my family go to town on those while I hogged the fish, and they disappeared quickly. No complaints from those gluten-eaters!
After polishing off the appetizer, my risotto arrived, colorful and elegant. Featuring butternut squash and shiitake mushrooms folded into the creamy rice, the dish falls squarely in the comfort food department. I loved the richness and lightness of the dish, which was perfect on a warm day. It's hearty without being heavy. The arugula on top was really fresh and noticeably flavorful. The squash and mushrooms were simmered to perfection and were velvety soft and flavorful.
Needless to say, Raglan Road was a big hit in my book, and won my family over as well. We've never had a bad meal there in the 10 years we've lived in Orlando, and appreciate the restaurant now more than ever for their abundant gluten and dairy-free options. I plan to be back again and again for fish 'n' chips when I'm in the area, and hope to eat around the menu in the future. It rare to find a restaurant so knowledgeable, adaptable, and unflinching in the face of dietary restrictions. My family left happy, full, and with the spirit of Irish revelry as the wonderful music looped in my head the rest of the evening which made for a memorable birthday dinner for all.
Cuisine: Traditional and contemporary Irish fare
Ideal For: Lunch, Dinner, Late Night
Price: Varies, entree prices are $15-$30
Accessibility: The restaurant itself is fully wheelchair accessible, request a standard table instead of a high-top!
Special Features: Accepts Disney Dining Plan credit, Tables in Wonderland. Make reservations in advance at this link.