Culinary Adventure – Raglan Road

A special five-course meal at Raglan Road to showcase the food and craft of Chef Kevin Dundon.

We were seated at a table for four with another couple (from Colorado, Jen & Gary). This was our first Culinary Adventure, but not the first for them. The place settings were very nice with yellow or red roses accenting the menus for the evening.

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a very nice touch, it accented that this was to be a special dining experience

We were seated in the side room nearest the restrooms (just as Nick had feared – it seems to us that seating this event in the Music Room away from the restrooms and outside bars would have been more intimate and quieter). Our table was against the outside wall near the doorway leading out to the Tonsil Tickler Bar. There was a single table next to us, they were in the corner of the room.

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overview of the dining room – notice the small cooking station on the left

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This long table was in the center of the room, directly behind Gary & Jen

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if the noise level had not been so horrific, it would have been as if we were enjoying an intimate dinner specially prepared by the chef

Although our table companions were seated directly across from us and the exterior door immediately to our right was blocked off, the noise was absolutely horrendous. Neither Nick nor Gary were really able to participate in the conversation because of the racket. The group seated in the corner next to us were talking very loudly to be heard over the other talkers and the music – as they became louder, Nora would talk louder and then that table would increase their volume (honestly, Disney should do SOMETHING about the noise level in the “finer dining establishments” – not entirely sure WHAT they should do, put in more sound deadening materials?). The cacophony nearly caused poor Nick to be disoriented and Gary didn’t look much better as the evening wore on. Alcohol was not required to induce feelings of disorientation!

After the soup course, the celtic dancers at Raglan Road came over and entertained us. Surprise! This was actually one of the quietest parts of the evening – and if you’ve ever seen the dancers, you know that they aren’t quiet by nature. The female dancers performed immediately next to Nick and he was able to get some lovely photos.

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Menu

Starter

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Carpaccio of venison with a Chicken & foie gras terrine & spiced apple chutney (wine: Main Street Pinot Noir)

Soup

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Green Onion & Potato Soup with Creme Fraiche & Potato Crisps

Fish

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Pan seared filet of smoked Mackerel on butter toast with Salmon & Mackerel tartar (wine: Jade Mountain White Blend)

Entree (choice of)

Breast of organic chicken & black pudding pie with hazelnut and champagne veloute with puree of baby turnips (wine: Main Street Pinot Noir)

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Braised shoulder and roast loin of lamb on a bed of potato & celeriac mousseline, minted pea puree with micro greens & natural port wine jus (wine: Uppercut Cabernet Sauvignon)

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Maine lobster Uisce Beatha & seared scallop with a Jameson tomato concasse finished with a Dijon mustard cream (wine: Jade Mountain White Blend)

Dessert

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Trio of autumn bliss Raspberries (Young’s Chocolate Stout)

Our Thoughts on the Food:

Starter… neither of us cared for the foie gras terrine, the venison was nicely paired with the Pinot Noir. The foie gras seemed too rich and too “liver” for our palettes. Now that’s a bit strange because Nora usually likes foods with a strong liver component. Perhaps this was just too too. The venison was not only tasty, it was lovely to look at – an important aspect of food service. Regardless, this is not an item that we’d order if we spied it on the Raglan Road menu. Perhaps it’s worth noting that the only item the regular Raglan Road Starters menu that we don’t particularly care for is the Crock o’ Pate.

Soup… this was nice and light after the richness and heaviness of the pate and the venison. Tasty.

Fish… this was our favorite course of the evening. The wine paired VERY nicely with the fish course. The smoked Mackerel on buttered toast was appropriately salted and rich. The fish itself was moist and smooth, buttery from the natural fats in the mackerel. The tartar nicely balanced these flavor notes with it’s fresh lightness, the only problem with the tartar, there was so little of it. This is likely the only item on the tasting menu that we’d order in the future if the chance presented itself. Again, note that our favorite regular Raglan Road Starter is the Smokie City.

Entree… neither of us ordered the Chicken entree (too many bad experiences with convention-chicken we suppose). Nick ordered the lamb dish and Nora (of course) ordered the scallop dish. Nick particularly liked the braised lamb shoulder, his notes say that it “is very good!! but… seems like a dish that any competent cook could make very well”. The lamb loin was okay, but nothing special or particularly outstanding. The Cabernet Sauvignon served with the lamb received an “ahhhh….” from Nick’s notes – high praise indeed from a man who prefers his lager and his whisky over wine. Our two table companions also ordered the lamb dish and were very pleased – but, this did cause a small hiccup for Nora’s dinner – since everyone else at the table received Cabernet Sauvignon with their meal, we had to specifically ask for Nora’s Jade Mountain White Blend. The lobster was not so great, while Nora likes lobster she prefers it one of two ways – either dead simple with drawn butter or asian style with garlic, ginger and black beans – when Nick tasted he thought the lobster was a bit gritty. The scallop! Ah! That was perfect! The best item of the entire evening by both our palates. Simply prepared, fresh food, tasty and wonderful. (Nora has found that scallops are often one of the best things to order at Disney World because they are rarely over-sauced or over-cooked.)

Dessert… Okay, another goof up with the beverage service. This was supposed to be served with the Chocolate Stout – wonderful accompaniment to raspberry anything, right? Well, the staff served irish coffee (not a bad decision and it wasn’t on the menu, so surprise extra!) – the problem, Disney’s weak wimpy watery coffee. The whisky in the coffee wasn’t overpowering (positive) but the coffee itself was abysmal by Nick’s tasting (Nora couldn’t have any because of the caffeine). Okay, back to the chocolate stout, when Nick asked the server… “deer in the headlights” look! The server and Nick had a discussion because the server said the stout was the next course — ummm, not if you read the menu — clueless… Okay, the actual raspberry dessert trio… the three raspberries on their own were good, of course; the raspberry pudding was unbelievably sour (Nora couldn’t eat hers at all – odd that she’d refuse anything with berries and chocolate); and the best on the plate was the mousse. The meringue was crispy and slightly sweet and the berries were simply presented; this was tasty. Oh, you were wondering about the chocolate stout? They did get it served before the dessert course ended, it went very well with the mousse (Nora liked it enough to order it again a few days later).

Other Notes:

Chef Kevin Dundon did some food preparation along with his other chefs at the small cooking station in the dining room. However, at the time, we didn’t really know what was going on… no one told us that was The Chef. After the meal, as we were lingering over dessert & stout/irish coffee, Chef Kevin came around and spoke to everyone individually and signed menus.

No vegetables to speak of. Is that because it was a special tasting menu? Maybe, maybe not. We suspect it’s because people don’t eat vegetables, vegetables are too expensive (hunh), vegetables spoil too quickly (hunh again)… Perhaps we’re just strange, but a meal includes more vegetable than protein or starch…

Overall, at the end of the evening, we thought that the food was okay. Frankly, the cacophony just ruined things for the two of us. Nick quickly went out and bought a variety of ear plugs which he’s been testing since then (more on that later). Given the cost of doing a Culinary Adventure (they range from $120 to over $400 per person), this is not likely to be on our list to do again next year (any of the Culinary Adventures).

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