COPENHAGEN — Throughout the summer, Tivoli offers Danes a wonderland of entertainment, including gardens, lake, rides, concerts and 29 restaurants.
Numerous stands sell everything from hamburgers to ice cream. Of course, sausage or polser stands abound, offering a variety of Danish sausages with grilled onions on a roll for about 18 Danish kroner (about $2.65 U.S.).
The stands show photos of various sausages and offer them on small paper plates, or with a roll or slice of bread. Many stands also sell ice cream in huge waffle cones that are freshly made. They cost 15 to 18 kroner, and are filled with what seems like a pint of ice cream. Danish ice cream is one of the best we have tasted.
On our first visit to Tivoli, the lights were just beginning to sparkle in the early evening. We walked along the gravel paths that wound through flower gardens, beside a lake and across a tiny bridge to the Old World elegance of the Belle Terrasse restaurant.
Packed With Flavor
White latticework lined the walls and tables were set with elaborate arrangements of fresh flowers.
Before ordering we were served tiny cups filled with a smooth mixture of tomato puree and hard-boiled egg yolks, flavored with fresh tarragon and served with crusty rolls. Everything is fresh and, more importantly, packed with flavor.
A freshly made tagliatelle pasta came with fresh mushrooms and sweetbreads in a port wine sauce made with heavy cream; and tender, delicately flavored Danish venison was served with small grilled tomatoes and paper-thin potato pancakes.
Dessert was a mazzarin tart topped with almond nougat and served in a light, lemon-cream sauce. The bill came to about 415 kroner (about $60 U.S.) for two.
Belle Terrasse, which operates only during summer, has been a fixture at Tivoli for more than 130 years. Jan Kurt Christensen's family bought the restaurant in 1946, and he is there every evening watching over the rooms, greeting people and talking with visitors and regular customers.
Almost next door and overlooking the same lake, Divan 1 and Divan 2 date from the beginning of Tivoli to 1843. Both are elegant restaurants with garden-like dining rooms. Divan 1 offers three kinds of herring for 78 kroner, shellfish soup for 95 kroner and duck with a honey and lime sauce for 225 kroner.
Specialties at Divan 2 include sugar salted Baltic salmon in lemon and olive oil for 95 kroner, Christianso herring for 72 kroner and lamb stew with fresh vegetables for 165 kroner.
For a simpler meal, casual restaurants serve the traditional smorrebrod, the Danish open-faced sandwiches that come in every variation imaginable.
At lunch one day we tried the Faergekroen (Little Fairy House), a bright-red half-timbered house at the edge of the lake. Hanging baskets of petunias and geraniums decorated the outside deck; ducks floated past and from across the lake we heard the laughter from the children's Ferris wheel.
The restaurant offered such smorrebrod as roast pork with red cabbage for 25 kroner, smoked eel with scrambled eggs for 27.50 kroner, fried herring in vinegar for 20 kroner, steak tartare with an egg yolk for 40 kroner and fried Camembert cheese with jam for 27 kroner.
The ham with vegetable salad (25 kroner) came with a huge piece of ham that dwarfed the small slice of dark rye underneath. A side salad of carrots and peas was served with freshly made mayonnaise. We also tried lobescoves, a traditional Danish dish. It turned out to be a very hearty stew of beef and potatoes served with rich, slightly sour brown bread (55 kroner).
Groften, a cozy restaurant with large wooden timbers, is a favorite lunch place for business people. Specialties include grilled calf liver with bacon and onion for 90 kroner and fresh smoked salmon for 60 kroner.
Pafuglen (peacock) is in an old yellow-brick house almost obscured by shade trees. A terrace with green and white striped awnings occupies the space in front of the building. Specialties include beef in paprika and fish in Noilly Prat sauce, at 89.50 kroner each.
Such is the magic of Tivoli that Perlen, a restaurant specializing in a wide variety of smorrebrod, including smoked herring with chopped radishes for 39.75 kroner, herring with curry and apple for 28 kroner, and French Brie with celery and grapes for 39 kroner, overlooks a replica of the Taj Mahal with a menu serving international specialties. Just a short stroll away is another restaurant serving barbecued ribs and hush puppies.
No one should leave Tivoli without tasting the pastries and desserts at the Konditoriet. Danish pastry is called Viennese pastry in Denmark. Every afternoon, residents come to Tivoli and the Konditoriet for a coffee and cake on the balcony.
The procedure is to find a table, afterward get a ticket from the waitress. With the ticket one goes to the counter to order one of the elaborate cakes or pastries. There is a menu, but choosing from the case is more fun.
Count on spending about $10 to $15 for two, but it is worth every cent just to taste the whipped cream. And the pastry we sampled was so light, flaky and buttery that it put to shame the concoctions that masquerade as Danish pastry in the United States.
English Spoken Everywhere
Tivoli is open from 10 a.m. to midnight every night from May through the second week in September. All restaurants are open for lunch and dinner every day. Danes don't often eat formal lunches, so the more elegant restaurants are barely full during the day.