Festive feasting for those bereft of turkey and mince pies

Vimmelskaftet 46, Cph K; open all days over Christmas, including late on Dec 24 & 25, kitchen open until 22:00, normal opening hours are Sun-Wed 10:00-02:00, Thu 10:00-03:00, Fri-Sat 10:00-05:00 (kitchen 11.00-23.00); 3333 7393; theirishrover.dk

Christmas roasts can be a thankless task. Hours endlessly peeling, peering and fretting, and then it takes a mere ten minutes to gobble the lot – a free-for-all punctuated by a few unconvincing murmurs of approval and undeniably critical questions like: “Is there any more gravy?”

Can’t believe my mincers

And while we’re at it, have you ever tried making mince pies? Most recipes require the groundwork to be done in October. And suet! What in the name of the ten lords a-leaping is suet?

Three pints of elbow grease later and the end result couldn’t be further away from the dainty flaky art of Mr Kipling. It’s enough to break the heart of any Anglo expat pining for a duck-free festive experience.

Well, help is at hand this Christmas – or even before it, if you’re feeling extra peckish – from The Irish Rover, located on Copenhagen’s Strøget near Jorcks Passage.

For just 275kr a head (350kr with a bottle of red wine thrown in), it is serving a three-course Christmas special: vegetable soup or prawn cocktail, a turkey roast with the works and a choice of desserts.

Keeping it country

We opted for the Irish winter country soup served with Irish soda bread was a winner. And who doesn’t like vegetable soup? As an Irish landlord, the Rover’s boss Jonno is fond of “keeping it country”, and nothing exemplifies this better than the roughly-cut veg in this flavoursome soup.

Moving onto the main, this unpretentious dish will fill you up until Monday morning, but it won’t sit heavily in your stomach like some soggy variations can. More summery than wintry, the turkey, honey-baked ham and stuffing are accompanied by potatoes (both mashed and roast), carrots, green beans, broccoli and, the highlight, some lovely homemade gravy – definitely a meal in which the fresh ingredients are left to speak for themselves.

Spinal Tap vs Close Encounters

And finally dessert: the elusive mince pie, although it was (to paraphrase ‘This is Spinal Tap’) “in danger of being crushed by a construction of cream … that tended to understate the hugeness of the object”.

But no seriously, it was of a decent size despite Richard Dreyfus’s best efforts to build a mountain out of it. And it tasted sublime. Christmas in four perfect bites, it was my Advent, Noel, Hogmanay and Epiphany all rolled into one.

Meanwhile, the Homemade Bailys Irish cream cheesecake didn’t disappoint mrs Smith, who said it was well worth the entire week of Weightwatchers it will take to lose all the calories.

Great for kids

If the Sunday on which Family Smith went to visit was anything to go by, this event is popular with adults and kids alike. That’s right, kids! The fantastic news for parents is that this pub is exceptionally child-friendly.

“Children are welcome, just like they are on a Sunday in Ireland,” explained the Rover’s landlord and owner, Jonno.

“At some other pubs on a Sunday there are drunks falling all over the place – that wouldn’t be tolerated at the Rover.”

While the pub provides special kids’ menus, it is how the locals regard them that really counts, and last Sunday it was all smiles and not a frown in sight. “They’re pretty cool with kids,” concurred one of the locals. “They do a lot of christenings and confirmations, and there always seem to be kids here.”

Saturated in Irish flavour

An ideal location to eat might be the library area, one of the many parts of the pub that is heavily saturated in Irish flavour. Or if it’s not too cold, you could sit outside on Strøget. Or escape upstairs to the spacious function room – a perfect venue for watching football, or holding receptions for groups. The chef is said to be flexible to culinary requests, however bizarre they might be.

“We use our knowledge of being Irish to provide an authentic Irish experience,” concluded Jonno. “As we would say in Ireland, we’re keeping it country.”