As there are in most American cities, Louisville showcases more than a few Irish pubs and restaurants, for better or worse. However, as more of these sorts of spots have opened up in the Derby City over the years, one in particular has remained as the High King of them all: The Irish Rover. No, I’ve never been to Ireland, and the last time I was in Europe I was 13 years old, so I’m hardly qualified to tell you what’s authentic and what’s not. What I can assure you of is that The Irish Rover serves quality Irish fare by the plate-full and has been for almost a quarter century (they opened in 1993).
Like most Irish restaurants/pubs, The Irish Rover’s menu includes a fish and chips option, which frankly is one of the main reasons I continue to revisit the place. It’s long been one of my favorite meals in Louisville, since the place opened to be honest. My dad lived a few blocks away and we’d occasionally walk down for a bite. In short, he got me hooked at a young age and I’ve never looked back. Naturally, today I ordered the fish and chips.
Here’s what today’s rendition of the fish and chips looked like upon delivery to my table:
Before I could start to analyze the gorgeous, golden brown breading or traditional pub fries, what quickly took over my senses was the mouthwatering scent of the perfectly fried piece of cod that was just delivered to me. As I took in the scent and stared at my plate, I thought to myself, “if I were to be executed tomorrow, this would undoubtedly be my last meal.” I bit into the fish which provided a delicate crunch before getting to the succulent, flaky cod. At other places the breading and cod tends to get a bit rubbery and almost chewy, but never at The Irish Rover.
Get a look at what the inside of my fish looked like:
The chips (steak fries) were good enough, but nothing to get excited about. But who cares, I mean, look at that fish, right? And what’s crazy is that over the years I’ve ordered this plate 50+ times (no exaggeration) and every damned time it’s just as good as the last. How do they keep up with the quality and consistency? I have no idea, but God bless ’em. I washed down my meal with a pint of O’hara Red, then got the hell out of there, already planning my next visit.
If you’re a Louisvillian, chances are you are already totally aware and agreement with everything you’ve read in this article. The Irish Rover is not only a Frankfort Avenue mainstay, but a Louisville staple that continues to stand the test of time. Accept no substitutes, The Rover is Louisville’s Irish Pub.
UPDATE: Get a load of this time lapse video of me eating this helluva meal below:
EDITOR’S NOTE: Phillip Olympia is absolutely, positively not a food critic. Having said that, he really, really loves food, and he really appreciates Louisville’s effervescent independent restaurant scene which is why we have decided to embark on a weekly series of posts documenting a singular item from a particular menu from one of many local spots. We’re calling this series “Food For Fun” because, well, I don’t know. It’s a dumb name, but you’ll get over it.