I must start this review with an apology. I am sorry that the Copenhagen Post was so poorly represented at the Red Lion pub quiz on Saturday night. We really were appalling. I won’t publicly reveal our score to save the interns’ red faces, but I think a few of us need to brush up on our knowledge of British music from the late 1970s and early 80s. We had not intended to take part in the quiz, but the lure of a 250kr bar tab each for the winning team was too tempting. There is even a packet of real Walkers crisps for the losing team.
We did not need menus on this occasion, although a quick glance tells us that the pub is used to serving traditional English fare. Pub landlord Martin Popplewell has claimed that his are the best Fish ‘n’ Chips in Copenhagen, so we decided to put this to the test. This statement does not have quite the same impact as it would in the UK, where voices would be raised over where really sells the best fish supper, but it seemed worth checking out.
If you are worried that as an English girl I will be biased in my appraisal of the traditional dish, then don’t be. I don’t usually like Fish ‘n’ Chips unless I’ve spent a rainy day at the seaside and they are eaten in a leaky bus shelter out of yesterday’s newspaper. Not that I’m trying to romanticise the British summertime.
So it seemed fairer to take a few non-Brits along with me to give the dish a fair trial. All four of us had tried Fish ‘n’ Chips before, but when it arrived with baked beans and buttered white bread, there were a few raised eyebrows. I had to explain to the accompanying Dane and the two Americans that in England this was totally normal, and that sometimes you’d even be served a pot of tea to accompany it back home.
The portions were huge − this was jumbo Fish ‘n’ Chips after all − so the bread and butter was an unnecessary addition appetite-wise, but I can imagine without it there may be a few complaints. Had it not been for the giant servings, then all four plates would have been cleared. The chips were a good colour and not too soft. The fish was flaky without being dry and coated in a wonderfully thick batter, without the greasiness that often comes with it. The sign of a good batter is whether it stays crispy after putting vinegar on it, and this passed the test. Best of all, full bottles of vinegar and sauces were brought to our table − none of that messing about with sachets nonsense.
The decor was very traditional, which is exactly what you want from an English pub; even the toilet has a temperamental flush and a hastily written sign that seems to be a requirement of most English drinking establishments. Unfortunately, in keeping with the English theme, where around 18 pubs are closing a week, there were not as many punters as one might expect on a Saturday evening.
One of the arguments against pub closures is that the community loses its hub, and the Red Lion certainly serves the English-speaking international community well. Popplewell provides an English book and DVD library upstairs and shows all the big football matches. The bar staff were incredibly friendly and clearly enjoyed some good banter with the regulars. If I was ever craving a taste of home, then I know exactly where I’d return, and for all those who just appreciate properly cooked Fish ‘n’ Chips, you now know where to go now too. Apart from the huge portion sizes, there were no complaints.
Unsurprisingly, none of us could face eating the bag of crisps afterwards.
The Red Lion
Nikolajgade 18, Cph K,
firstname.lastname@example.org, 3313 0251;
Kitchen Open: closed Mon, Tue-Sat 12:00-21:00, Sun 14:00-21:00;
Cuisine: English pub grub
Top Dish: Fish ‘n’ Chips
Price Range: 119kr