So Raglan Road was having a "soft opening" tonight. I heard that and I knew I was going to be able to get a drink or two after work tonight so I actually made plans to have drinks with Wes and some friends from work. What I didn't take into account was the big Keith Urban/Carrie Underwood concert at the Sprint Center. Not that concerts at the Sprint Center are that big of a deal for me since parking at the Power and Light district isn't a problem. I'm just used to kind of having my way at bars downtown and not having anyone around, kind of like at a Royals game.
Anyway, downtown was kind of crowded this evening. I didn't realize Raglan Road wasn't going to open until 5 which was a problem since I told everyone to meet me there at 4:30. I quickly realized as I was sitting at the bar that they weren't open yet. So, I had to make a call or two to get everyone straight and the crew that had already showed up decided to head over to the Bristol for their pretty good happy hour.
The Bristol had a pretty sweet bar area. I really liked it, it would remind someone of Kona Grill, not necessarily look like Kona, but the feel was the same minus the really loud music and the douches. Our waiter was pretty clueless. Granted we had a party of about 6 and had 3 or 4 different tickets but the waiter just didn't have the capacity to get the tabs worked out right. He barely brought us the right drinks, he confused Wes' order of Guinness with my order of Boulevard Pale Ale. He confused one lady wearing a blue sweater's order of gin and tonic with another blue sweater's order of bloody mary. Just a pretty poor performance by a waiter overall. I don't think anyone got charged the right amount and when the carnage was over we had 10 of the little black books that have your tab in it on our table (Wes counted). Even with the poor service, I will go back to the Bristol for a drink, especially if I'm hungry.
After the Bristol debacle, it was past 5. Our dream of getting the first pints poured at Raglan Road were dashed. But, at least we were going to be the first to get a review out. Let me tell you, I was really ready to hate this Irish pub originating from Orlando. I had visions of fakeness jumping through my head. I must say, though, I thought the place was pretty cool and really well done. It was real homey and warm and didn't seem super fake, even though it was.
We sat down in the bar area closest to Grand. There is another bar area by the entrance off of 14th street, that's right there are 2 bar areas (a common theme in the Power and Light district). I ordered a Black and Tan namely to challenge the bartender. I would rather have had a Guinness after reading Irish KC's essay on Guinness today. But, I wanted to test the guy. He quickly sold me on what they call a Black Smith which is a Black and Tan with Smithwicks instead of Bass or Harp. I was pretty intrigued by this since I love Smithwicks and only have a mild appreciation of Bass and Harp. I enjoyed the Black Smith, although it was just a little too cold for my tastes. Seriously, it's an Irish pub, they should be serving their Guinness drinks near cellar temperatures. I'm more mad about it now though, than I was then. The Black Smith didn't have the nice dividing line in it and I'm not sure if that's because Smithwick's doesn't work that way or if the bartender just didn't do a skillful draw. I suspect the latter.
Like I said, I did enjoy the decor and the atmosphere. The bartenders though, have a tendency to oversell. Danny, our main bartender, sold us on Smithwicks, even giving me a sample. Then he tried to tell us some unique facts about Guinness. Another bartender came over and told us about all of the woodwork and tables that came from Ireland. It just seemed disingenuous and I didn't really care. It was a little like going over to some dude's house and having him tell you about the marble countertops coming from Italy or something like I'm going to blow him because I'm so impressed. I think that will work itself out over time, but it was a little off putting while I was there.
I got myself another Black Smith, Wes got some hard cider that I've never heard of and don't remember the name of. Our pal, Ward Parkway, went over the top and got an Irish car bomb, one of the best drinks on the planet. The rest of the group stuck with Black Smiths. I would have liked to stay longer, but I'm a pretty busy guy and had to get home. I really think I'm going to stop in Raglan Road quite a bit before I go home after work. Skip McFadden's and hit Raglan Road, you can buy me a pint in appreciation if you see me there.