Samuel Adams Brewery Tour

I was able to make a quick trip to Boston a couple weeks ago to visit some very dear family and friends.  While I was there, I made a smidgen of time to do some touristy things.  Even though I was born in the Boston area and have been there countless times in my life, there are still many things I have never done that I have always wanted to do.  One of those things was visiting the brewery of one of my all-time favorite beers; Sam Adams.

The brewery is in the Jamaica Plain neighborhood of Boston, close to the Stony Brook Station T Stop (on the Orange Line).  Tours are free, however a $2 donation is suggested.  These donations go towards local charities, including Youth Enrichment Services, preservation of the historic Granary Burying Grounds in Boston (where the REAL Sam Adams is interred), and Brewing The American Dream, which offers assistance to small business owners and startups, mostly in the beverage industry.

While you are waiting for your tour to start, you can wander around the lobby and adjacent small exhibit space.  You will find fun facts about the brewing process, information on the catalog of beer that Sam Adams has produced, and some fun photo ops.  There is also a place where you can mail a free postcard to a friend or family member.  You fill out your postcard, drop it in a mailbox, and they will post it for you free of charge.  However, I mailed one here to Tadd and it has been 2 weeks and we have yet to receive it…

Most of the tour was your standard brewery tour.  Once you have seen one tour, you quickly realize, large or small, they all pretty much cover the same stuff, and use very similar-looking machinery (just different sizes, depending on the brewery).  But it’s still neat to see.  And, we got to see the bearded guy from the Sam Adams commercials!

From that point is everyone’s favorite part, the tasting room.  We got to try 3 different beers; Boston Lager (of course), Cold Snap (the current seasonal for late winter/early spring), and Noble Pils (our tour guide’s favorite).  Cold Snap was my favorite of the three, which is an unfiltered white ale.  If you enjoy light/bright, but still very flavorful beers, you should check it out before it stops production for the season in late March.   They let us keep our sample glasses, which I thought was a really nice touch for a free tour.

After the tasting session, we stopped by the giftshop (where I went a little souvenir-crazy…good thing the prices were all rather shockingly reasonable), then took a free trolley from the brewery to Doyle’s Cafe, which was the very first bar to serve Sam Adams beer.  If you show them your tour ticket and buy a Boston Lager (or any other Sam Adams beer), they will present it to you in a complimentary souvenir glass.  More free glassware!  This glass is special though.  The shape, size, and style was specifically engineered to enhance the flavor of Boston Lager.

If beer is your thing and you find yourself with some free time in Boston, I highly recommend taking the tour and ending it with the excursion to Doyle’s Cafe.  It was a really enjoyable afternoon, and while I was already a big fan of Samuel Adams and The Boston Beer Company, I now feel even better about my allegiance to this company.  They are good people, creating a really good product, and doing great things for the Boston community as well.

Trip Recap: Asheville

Thursday, May 9

We started on our way to Asheville pretty early on Thursday morning.  The trip took about 3.5 hours, but we experienced very little traffic and the last section of it was through some beautiful mountain scenery, so it was a very pleasant drive.  After getting settled at our hotel, we walked up the hill to the Vance Memorial at Pack Square Park, where our Brews Cruise tour began.

The Brews Cruise is a bus tour of several breweries in the area.  Asheville has a large number of craft breweries (14 I think), and is often known as “beer city”, so it’s definitely worth checking out their beer scene if you are there.  However, I only recommend this tour if 1) you REALLY like beer and 2) if you have eaten something first, because you will be trying a LOT of beer.  By the end, I was so glad we only had to walk down the hill to get back to our hotel.  But we had a really fun time on the tour.  We got to visit Altamont, Highland, and French Broad.  At each stop, we got tours of their brewing facility and learned about their processes.  What was kind of neat about this tour were the variations of the breweries.  Altamont is relatively new and tiny.  Highland is HUGE and ships all over the country.  French Broad is larger than Altamont, but much smaller than Highland, and has been around for a long time.

Altamont Brewery

Highland Brewery

Highland’s brewing facility

Highland Taproom

French Broad taproom

French Broad brewing facility

After the tour, we were dropped back off at Pack Square Park and headed to Pack’s Tavern for dinner.  I was able to use a certificate here ($25 off $35) and we got dinner for next to nothing!  Would highly recommend this place.  Very nice, charming, casual tavern-style atmosphere.  Also, their fried pickles were amazing.

Friday, May 10

This was our Biltmore Estate day, which I already shared with you.  But just because I loved it so much, here are a few more pics, this time from my phone.

Can’t get enough of that place!  Afterwards, we refreshed ourselves at the hotel and then decided to leave the camera behind so we could have a more relaxing evening.  We walked to dinner at Lexington Ave Brewery (yes, ANOTHER brewery!) and then on our way back to the hotel, we stumbled upon this cute, cozy little cocktail bar called Sazerac.  We liked it so much, we ended up back there the next night.  Not even really sure what we loved so much about it, but we just clicked with the place.  They had some pretty interesting and creative cocktails too.

Saturday, May 11

Our last day of vacation…So sad.  And to add insult to injury, the forecast was calling for rain.  We sadly decided to forgo our original plan of driving the Blue Ridge Parkway, since the scenery wouldn’t be quite so magical with gloomy skies and downpours.  Instead, we decided to explore Asheville a bit more.  We had breakfast at this great place in West Asheville called West End Bakery, where I had the best bagel sandwich EVER.  Herbed cream cheese, lettuce, tomato, cucumber, red onion, and sprouts on a delicious fresh-baked bagel.  So good!  Tadd loved his breakfast too.  We were happy campers.  If I lived in West Asheville, I would be here every morning.

We drove around, and shopped around a little bit, eventually ending up at The Grove Arcade, a beautiful historic building full of interesting little shops.  We bought a few souvenirs and just enjoyed the charming ambiance.

We eventually decided to check out one of the local theaters and see The Great Gatsby (which we both loved).  Turns out they sell craft beer in the movie theaters too!  After the movie, we headed back to the hotel, walked back up the hill and had some unremarkable sushi for dinner, followed by a lovely time at Sazerac once again to have a few cocktails while we relaxed and reminisced about our trip.

The next morning, we packed up the car, and drove the 10 hours back home.  The end!

Trip Recap: Tennessee

I thought I would briefly recap our trip to TN and NC, starting with the Tennessee portion.   But before I do, I wanted to mention that we just passed my 2nd bloggiversary on Sunday!  I can’t believe I have had this blog up and running for two years now.

Saturday, May 4

We got a little bit of a late start, and ended up driving through some crazy rain in Atlanta.  The rain continued as we made it through Chattanooga and into the mountains.  We made it to Tadd’s mom’s place in Cookeville, TN around dinnertime.  The first couple of days were quite dreary.  That night we just stayed in, caught up with Tadd’s family, and played Apples to Apples.

Sunday, May 5

More staying in…The rain was still coming down, and unfortunately Cookeville is one of those places where there just isn’t much to do in the rain.  The rain cleared up at one point, but it was still soggy and grey, so we decided to take a walk around Tadd’s mom’s property and took some pretty pictures of her garden and barn.

That night we had dinner at one of our favorite local spots, Char, then rented a movie and had another quiet evening in.

Monday, May 6

This is when the real sightseeing began.  Despite the still-cloudy skies, we made the almost 2 hour trek over to Lynchburg to visit the Jack Daniels Distillery.  If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend this tour!  It’s free, but if you would like to have a little taste of a few of the products after the tour, you can do that for $10.  It’s obvious that the Jack Daniel’s company takes great pride in their product and it was really neat to see firsthand all of the history behind such an iconic American brand.

After the tour, we had lunch and shopped around a bit in Lynchburg Square.  This town is teeny-tiny and very quaint.  And you will see references to Jack Daniel’s everywhere!

Tuesday, May 7

Finally the rain seemed to be behind us.  We woke up to blue skies and temps in the upper 50s F/low 60s F.  Tadd’s mom wanted to take a short hike to Cummins Falls, which had recently been made open to the public (previously it was on private land).  Cummins Falls is less than 5 minutes from her house, so it was a quick drive.

The ground was still muddy and it seems like some of the hiking trails were still being established.  So after a few minutes of (occasionally trecherous) slogging through the mud, and a few wrong turns, we finally made it to the falls!

Later on that day, Tadd’s mom had arranged for us to have a private tour of Calfkiller Brewery in Sparta, TN by the owners & founders Dave and Don Sergio.  I admit it was a little weird pulling up to what looks like someone’s house…

But we had nothing to worry about because Dave & Don were nothing but welcoming and warm.  They told us all about their history and let us try a TON of delicious beer.  Their operation is tiny, but extremely popular in the central Tennessee region.  I’m so glad we got to meet them!

We then had an amazing dinner at nearby Foglight Foodhouse, which was the first local place to offer Calfkiller beer.  We ended up purchasing a growler of Calfkiller’s Grassroots Ale at Foglight to take home with us.  Great end to the day.

Wednesday, May 8

Last full day in Tennessee.  We decided to drive west across the state and visit Hurricane Mills, which is a town owned by Loretta Lynn that has been set up as a dude ranch and tourist attraction.  We took a tour of a replica of her childhood home (log cabin with no running water), a simulated coal mine (where her father worked), then we got to tour the actual house where she lived during her heyday.  This house, a real plantation-era mansion with its own rich history, reminded Loretta of Gone With The Wind and has been featured on several ghost hunting shows.  After the house, we toured Loretta’s museum.  The grounds of the ranch are gorgeous, and we were able to see horses grazing in a field wildflowers behind the museum.

On the way home, we stopped for dinner in downtown Nashville, and ended up at Flying Saucer, which I would totally recommend.  Great food, interesting atmosphere, and extensive beer selection (made me smile to see some Calfkiller on the list).  I understand that they are a chain, so I would love to see one in Orlando at some point.

The next morning, we got up, said goodbye to Tadd’s family, and headed over to Asheville, NC for the second leg of our trip.  Stay tuned for that!

Ommegang Brewery

While we were on our little Albany-to-Cooperstown trek last week, we made a stop at Brewery Ommegang for a beverage and bite to eat.  I have had Ommegang beers before at a few places around Orlando, but it was neat to get to visit the actual brewery itself.  It’s situated in a very scenic spot, in the hills just outside of Cooperstown, NY on the grounds of an old hop farm.

We did not do the brewery tour, but we did have a delicious lunch in the Ommegang taproom.

I can’t say enough good things about the food here!  Tadd and I shared the frites with truffle aioli and honey mustard dipping sauces.  The honey mustard was good, but I could have skipped that and had two ramekins of the truffle aioli, as it was one of the most delicious items I have tried in a long, long time.  I also had a spinach crepe that was really good too.  Tadd had the croque madame, which he loved, and Kerry & Bryon (the bride & groom) shared the beer cheese fondue with apples, bread, and sausages for dipping.  Every single thing we ordered was excellent!

I failed in taking pics of our food (too busy enjoying it!), but I did manage to snap a pic of the beer we tried.

The boys both had the BPA (Belgian-style pale ale).  I tried it and was surprised by how much I liked it.  I’m not normally into overly hoppy beers (when the hops are too plentiful, I feel like it makes the beer taste too herbal and flowery), but this one was quite good.  I had the always-delicious Hennepin Farmhouse Saison, which according to Wikipedia, was the first saison in America.  And Kerry chose the Abbey Ale, which is a richer dubbel-style beer.

Definitely recommend stopping at Ommegang if you happen to find yourself near Cooperstown, NY.  I would like to go back someday and take the brewery tour!  And maybe get more of those frites with truffle aioli…

Cigar City Brewing: A tour and a pint!

I have one more place from my weekend that I want to share with you.  On our way out of the Tampa area on Sunday, we stopped for a 1pm brewery tour at Cigar City Brewery, which is in a warehouse off of Lois Ave near the airport.

For a mere $5.35, you get a brief but interesting tour of the brewery, a pint of beer of your choosing, and a souvenir pint glass.  If you are at all into craft beer, this is a great cheap thing to do while you’re in the area.  Cigar City has some of the best beer in the state, if not the country!  They do all kind of fun experimental things with beer.

We arrived about 10 minutes early and started off in the tasting room, where we paid our tour fee, chose our beers, and grabbed a seat to wait for the tour to start.

Tadd and I both got Maduro Brown Ale, my brother Ryan got a Minaret ESB (pictured above, with his complimentary souvenir pint glass), and my friend Carrie got a Xenu Cream Lager.  I love Maduro!  I get it often when I’m at Oblivion Taproom.  It’s a very deep dark brown ale that is full of flavor but not as heavy as you would expect from a darker beer.  Everyone else seemed to enjoy their selections.

Before we were finished our beverages, we were called to the brewery entrance to start the tour.  We were provided with classy eye protection, and anyone with open-toed shoes was required to wear blue sanitary booties over their feet (TIP!  Wear closed-toed shoes!).  Also, we were allowed to take our beer with us to enjoy during the tour.

The place isn’t very big, but it’s still interesting to see how it all works.  It was especially neat to think that every Cigar City brew I drink will originate right there in that room.  Our tour guide was really friendly, informative, and funny.  I loved that the tour was surprisingly multi-sensory, as we were allowed to smell a canister of hops and chew on a few of the malted grains that are used in beer production.

We were also allowed in the freezer store room to see all of the kegs ready for shipping as well as other ingredients waiting to be used in the beer-making process.  For example, we saw a large shipment of a particularly rare type of hop that was awaiting experimentation in future brew batches.  My brother (who has done some home brewing) had lots of questions and ended up coming away with several tips for his next round of beer-making.

Every single bottle of Cigar City beer is bottled right on this little machine!

I love that they name their kettles…Below are “Barbie” (there is also a “Ken”) and “C3PO”.

We also discussed the merits of canned vs bottled beer.  Apparently the canning process is not only more efficient, but it’s also better for the beer (keeps the light out and keeps the beer fresher longer).  We got to see prototypes for their soon-to-be released canned versions of two of their most popular beers; Jai Alai IPA and Maduro Brown Ale.

All in all, for what we got, it was $5 well-spent.  I think most of us would have stayed for another round if we didn’t have to be on our way back in Orlando so soon.

On our way out we bought a 750mL bottle of their experimental Cucumber Saison to take home with us, which turned out to be astonishingly cucumbery.  Very different from any other beer I had ever tried, but refreshing and great for summer.

Maxine’s On Shine

I meant to post about this earlier in the week.  I wanted to share a restaurant review for a new-to-us place that we tried last Sunday night.  However, I am excited to share that I have been promoted at work!  And in preparing for my new role, time and energy has been scarce lately.

Tadd and I actually went to Maxine’s On Shine Sunday  night to celebrate said promotion.  It’s a cute little bistro on Shine Avenue tucked away in an adorable residential neighborhood just north of downtown Orlando.  The food seems to focus on Italian and Greek cuisine, kind of a Mediterranean blend, but I wouldn’t really categorize it strongly that way.  The food is just really good.  That’s all you need to know!   Although the menu is not large, I’m sure anyone would be able to find something they like.

Source: Maxine’s On Shine’s Facebook Page

We ate on the patio, as the weather was lovely that night.  Not too hot or humid, with a slight coolish breeze, which is becoming less and less common in Central Florida this time of year.  We started with a couple of beers, Shipyard Applehead for me (LOVE!), and Magic Hat #9 for Tadd.  We found their beer & wine list to be impressive.  It’s always nice to see lesser-known craft brews on a menu.  Tadd had originally tried to order a Blackened Voodoo, which is one of his favorite more obscure beers.  He was impressed to see it on the menu, but it turns out they were out of it that night.

We found out that they have a Sunday night special called Magical Mystery Tour.  For $25, you get a 3 course meal (appetizer, entree, and dessert) chosen by the chef, and a your choice of a draught beer or glass of wine.  Tadd was feeling adventurous, so he chose that option.  I am way too much of a picky eater to leave that much to chance, but there really isn’t that much that Tadd won’t eat (olives and raisins are really the only two biggies), so he went for it.  While we waited for his first course to come out, I also ordered a cup of their soup of the day, butternut squash and apple soup.  Mmmmmmm, so good!  I only wished it was fall, because these are flavors that I usually associate with that season.

Soon enough, they brought out Tadd’s appetizer of stuffed grape leaves.  I tried one and thought they were ok, though not really my taste.  Tadd, however, inhaled them.

For entrees, I got the spinach ravioli with ratatouille.  And looking back at the pic, I realize this doesn’t look super appetizing, but I really really loved it.  The mountain of roasted veggies were SO good.  There were mushrooms and artichokes and summer squash and spinach and even beets, which I don’t typically care for.  All really really good.

Tadd lucked out and was presented with something he is STILL raving about; Gnocchi con Pollo Sorrentina, which is gnocchi and chicken served with prosciutto and veggies in a wine/butter sauce.  He was soooooo happy, and cleaned his plate.  I thought he might have licked it afterward if he thought he could have gotten away with it!

Tadd’s mystery dessert was an interesting concoction of what seemed like house-made vanilla ice cream, house-made butterscotch sauce, strawberries, and blueberries.  No idea what this dessert was called, but I think it was just right to end Tadd’s meal.  I had a few bites, and LOVED the ice cream.  Especially combined with the butterscotch and berries.  Nothing complicated or fussy, just really good.

Towards the end of our meal, the owner approached and asked us about our experience.  He was warm, friendly, and welcoming.  Service throughout the meal was great too.  We had Mary as our server, and she was sweet and cheerful.  Loved her.  We walked back to our car vowing to come back soon and bring friends.  Tadd’s office is nearby, so he would love to come back someday for lunch, and I have heard their weekend brunch is great as well.

If you live in Central Florida and are looking for a place to dine near downtown Orlando, check it out!

Maxine’s On Shine

337 N Shine Ave

Orlando, FL 32803

(407) 674-6841

Instagram Link Party: St. Patrick’s Day at Epcot.

Hope you had fun this weekend, especially Saturday for St. Patrick’s Day!  We spent ours at World Showcase in Epcot, celebrating many different cultures around the world.

My St. Patrick’s Day celebrating started early…Friday night, I was drinking iced tea from one of my favorite pint glasses…Mickey makes a cute leprechaun, don’t you think?

Saturday morning, we woke up, put on some green clothing and accessories, and hit the road for the 45-minute drive to Walt Disney World.

We spent pretty much the whole day in World Showcase, starting with having one of my favorite beverages, a blood orange margarita at La Cava de Tequila in the Mexico pavilion.  We got our favorite booth against the back wall of the bar, and chilled out in the air conditioning for awhile.  I really love that place!  So cozy (and so air conditioned…it was HOT that day!).

In addition to celebrating St. Patrick’s Day at Epcot, we also got to take part in the International Flower & Garden Festival, which runs from now until May 20th.  Everywhere you looked there were fun topiaries, like these pandas outside the China pavilion.  I have many more pics of the various topiaries around the park from my regular camera that I will share later this week!

While in “China” we stopped to check out the Tomb Warriors exhibit, which I love.  These are smaller replicas of the life-sized Terracotta Army sculptures that were buried with China’s first Emperor Qin Shi Huang back in 210 BC!  What I love about them, is that, while they are all in uniform and appear standing in a regimented fashion, no two warrior is the same.  They all have different expressions, facial features, etc.  Read more about the Terracotta Army on Wikipedia.

Eventually we made our way over to the UK pavilion, and of course, we had to stop in for an Irish beverage.  I had a Guinness (Wish a shamrock drawn into the foam!  Wish I could have gotten a good pic of it…), and Tadd had a green beer.  Some of our group of friends had green cocktails, Irish whiskey, and even one green Sprite.  We were all very festive with our beverages.  And, of course, as expected, this was one of the most crowded spots in all of Epcot that day!  But we just had to brave that long line…  Well, technically Tadd braved the line for the both of us while I waited off to the side and took pics of the madness.

As I stated previously, there will be more Epcot Flower & Garden Festival photos to come this week!  So stay tuned…

This post is linked to the weekly Instagram Link Party over at a {little} dash of ash!

Tadd’s Birthday Party at Oblivion Taproom!

Hope your weekend went well (or for you lucky souls who have MLK Day off, hope it is still going well).  Tadd’s birthday celebration extended into this weekend, so that was the major focus for us.

We had about 25 friends meet us at Oblivion Taproom on Saturday night.  Oblivion is one of our favorite local hangouts.  They always have interesting food & beer to try (they are famous for their craft beer selection, burgers, and rotating daily specials…almost everything is made from scratch, even the ketchup!).  And they were incredible at handling our party size on a Saturday night with only a few days notice.  They not only let us bring in our own birthday cake, but they also brought it out to him with his Darth Vader candle lit and had the whole restaurant sing to him!  Several staff members wished him a happy birthday and constantly made sure we had everything we needed.  Everyone had a great time, and I can’t say enough great things about this place.  If you are local to Orlando, give them a try.  They are on East Colonial Drive (Hwy 50) between Bennett Rd and S. R. 436, east of the Fashion Square Mall.

The birthday boy with his stout beer flight.

Happy birthday to Tadd!

Thank you once again to Oblivion Taproom, and special thanks to all of our dear friends for joining us and making his birthday celebration such a great and memorable night!

Highlights from Christmas 2011

I can’t believe Christmas has come and gone!  Did everyone have a great weekend?  I definitely did, and feel very blessed with the family and friends (and kitties) that surround me.  I thought I would share some highlights from the last few days…

On Christmas Eve, my parents and siblings came to our house for a casual dinner of Chinese food.  My parents brought the food from one of my favorite Chinese restaurants in their town (they live about 45 minutes away from us), so we supplied drinks and dessert.  I decided to try this recipe for apple dumplings, which I first saw on a post on Thrifty Decor Chick.  This is a pic from TDC’s site, as I didn’t manage to get a pic of mine:

Let me just say, these were a huge hit (although they were a little rich for me)!  And they were very easy…  I was a little weirded out by the inclusion of a small amount of Mountain Dew, but in the end you couldn’t taste it.  You could, however, DEFINITELY taste the butter.  Probably why I could only eat a little bit.  But it was Christmas Eve after all…

We also opened up a bottle of Sam Adams Infinium beer, which is a limited edition brew for the holidays and is meant to stand as an alternative to champagne.  It was very interesting.  At first, it tasted like champagne, but the aftertaste was beer.  Very festive and fun to try after our Christmas Eve dinner.  Might pick up another bottle if we can find one before the end of the season.

Christmas Day started with just Tadd and I exchanging presents at home.  We also gave the kitties some gifts (ok, a lot of gifts…they were spoiled!).  The big hit with them was this plastic ring with a ping pong ball inside.  Jacoby especially is incredibly mesmerized by it.

Later in the morning, we packed up the car and went over to my parents’ house for our traditional family festivities.  We exchanged gifts (and got a TON of stuff from my way too generous parents), and I got…DRUMROLL PLEASE…a sewing machine!

We also had a nice dinner as a family, complete with holiday-themed wine.  We get this every year and it’s actually really good and very reasonably priced!  We got the Merlot, but there are other varieties available (Cabernet, Chardonnay, and maybe some others)  Makes a great gift for Christmas.  We get ours at Total Wine & More.

After dinner, we went out into the front yard to admire my parents’ poinsettia plant.  Isn’t it gorgeous?  So festive!  I want one now…

That was pretty much it.  It was a very low-key holiday weekend, but a wonderful one as well.  How was yours?

Raglan Road

The Saturday night before last, just before we started our No Spend August challenge, Tadd and I were hankering to do something different.  We had tentative plans to go to Kissimmee to check out their weekly antique car show, but it was just too hot to enjoy it.  So we decided to go to Downtown Disney to try their brand new AMC Dine-In Theater Fork & Screen experience.  But when we got there, the movie showing we intended on seeing was sold out.  We couldn’t agree on a backup movie or time, so we gave up on that idea.

But we were already in Downtown Disney, so we decided to make the most of it.  Our favorite restaurant, Raglan Road, just happens to be in Downtown Disney, so we decided to see what their wait was like.  The hostess said 25 minutes, which was agreeable to us, so we took a pager and entered the giftshop to wait for it to buzz.

If you live in Orlando, or are planning on visiting on vacation, I really can’t recommend this place enough.  It gets high marks from us almost every single time on food, atmosphere, entertainment, and service.  The place is cavernous, but the authentic 130+ year old bars (there are 4 of them, and they were shipped from real pubs in Ireland) ooze with authentic old Irish pub charm, and give an intimate feel to the space.  In the dead center of the dining room is a table with a tiny staircase leading up to it, which is opposite a small stage.  In the evenings, they host Irish dancers and traditional Irish bands.  Occasionally the dancer(s) will climb the stairs up to the tabletop and dance right in the middle of the restaurant.  It’s quite a sight to see and highly entertaining.

Raglan Road Dancers (click for source)

Dancing on the tables! (click for source)

The food is hearty, filling Irish pub/bistro fare with a twist.  It’s heavy stuff, definitely not something meant to enjoy everyday, but just lovely as a once-in-awhile treat.  My personal favorite is the Pie In The Sky: chunks of chicken, potatoes, wild mushrooms, and leeks topped with a flaky pastry crust, served with a very light rocket lettuce salad on the side.  Soooo good, I have trouble branching out and ordering anything different each time we go.  Tadd really likes the Bangers & Booz, which is their take on bangers & mash.  The menu changes often, but these two dishes have been offered for years.

The food is so heavy that we don’t usually order appetizers, but there really is no need anyways, because each meal always starts with complimentary Irish soda bread and their signature Guinness reduction dipping sauce. If you don’t like Guinness, don’t worry, the dipping sauce does not taste like beer.  The reduction process gives it a sweet, honey-like flavor.  It’s delicious.

Pie In the Sky

Bangers & Booz (it's hard to see, but the large white space on the right side of the plate are mashed potatoes).

Irish Soda Bread & Guinness Reduction Dipping Sauce

Sorry the pics are so bad but the lights are dim and these were taken with my phone.

I always make it a habit of enjoying a pint of Guinness with my meal at Raglan Road.  The atmosphere just begs me to order one.   However this last time, Tadd ordered a pint of Kilkenny, which is also made by Guinness, and it was really good!  I might order one of those next time.

Kilkenny on the left, Guinness on the right.

We didn’t order dessert this time, and rarely have room for it anyways.  But the couple times we have splurged for it in the past, we have always gotten Ger’s Bread & Butter Pudding, which is their most well-known and well-loved dessert item.  This bread pudding tastes like the richest pancake you have ever eaten, and comes with a side of warm butterscotch sauce and vanilla cream sauce, which you can add at your discretion.  People rave and rave about this dessert, and for good reason.

As I mentioned previously, this is a LARGE restaurant.  It’s really more like a complex.  In addition to the main dining room, there is an outdoor patio area with a bar.  Patrons sitting in this area get full service and access to the regular Raglan Road menu.  For those who just want a drink and nothing more, there is a smaller outdoor patio on the opposite side with tables and chairs and a small bar.  This area is called the Hole In The Wall.  Adjacent to the Hole In The Wall bar, is an attached quick-service eatery called Cookes of Dublin where you can get fish & chips and other fast-food renditions of Raglan Road dishes.  One of their most popular items is the deep fried Snicker’s bar.  It’s a great option if you are craving Raglan Road food, but want a smaller, quicker, cheaper meal. The lobby area of the main dining room also has a giftshop where you can buy all kinds of Irish novelties and tchotchkes.

So I know I’m no fancy restaurant critic, but have I convinced you to give Ragland Road a try next time you are in the neighborhood?  If you go, let me know what you think!  If you have already tried it, what is your favorite dish?