The fish bar that conquered meat town

The fish bar that conquered meat town

4
min
Collaborations

If you're not from Copenhagen, you might not suspect that under a giant bas-relief sculpture of a bull and a sign reading Kød og Flæskehal, is nestled one of the city's most iconic fish restaurants.

Since 2009, Fiskebaren has been serving their patrons the very best of oysters, fish and other aquatic delicacies in a lively but relaxed setting. The founder, Anders Selmer, says the reason for opening the restaurant was that he had a hard time finding good fish at a casual restaurant. And it's true, at the time, casual seafood wasn't really anywhere to be found in Denmark.

Arla Unika is helping cheese and booze become the new Milk and Honey

So how did a scrappy ex-sommelier from Noma wind up changing the way Danes view the seafood dining experience, and how did Fiskebaren help pave the way for the massive transformation of Copenhagen's meat district (Kødbyen)? 

Breaking with traditions  

 

Traditions in the Danish restaurant business have historically been based on the European style of dining, especially French cuisine. At the time when Anders began forging the idea of starting a seafood restaurant, there was only one notable restaurant serving explicitly fish, Krog’s, which is known to be a traditionally "classy" establishment. The waiters wear white gloves and hand people a lot of different cutlery that some of them don't really know how to use.  

 

When speaking with Anders, and he shared his thoughts on this atmosphere of traditional restaurants before the culinary shift that began in the early 00's—brought on by the now globally recognized restaurant Noma.  

"It just wasn't very appealing for a young person that wants to go out. I've been in the restaurant game since the early '90s, and for a long time you were either a café, very lowkey, or you were a gourmet restaurant. That was just the Danish way, and as I said before, it was very French-oriented. It could be very intimidating if you didn’t know all the traditional rules about eating fish. There was nowhere where you could just go in and eat with a knife and fork, and not have to worry about looking stupid."

However, it wasn't enough for Anders to just start a seafood restaurant that would be unlike any other. But being a sommelier, Anders also wanted to serve the very best drinks he could.  

From wine to whisky and everything in-between  

 

Once you enter Fiskebaren, you immediately understand that the "bar" in the moniker is not inconsequential. Taking mainstage in the centre of the restaurant is a large rectangular bar with all the recognizable trimmings of a cocktail or beer bar, and this is precisely how Anders envisioned it. Fiskebaren would be equal parts seafood restaurant, and equal parts bar—a place where someone could wander in for a cocktail or beer, but end up staying for a meal. Or visa versa.  

 

Following the same passion for quality and experimentation that governs the food, Fiskebaren is also quite recognized for their unique cocktails. In fact, according to Anders, one of their most famous cocktails, the Flemming Collins, was actually an accident.  

 

"Somebody asked for a Tom Collins, but we didn't have any lemons because we didn't use them. So we thought, what can we do? Instead of simply admitting that they didn't have what was needed, their bartender Flemming got creative and created something new on the spot. Viola, the Flemming Collins, and it's still on the cocktail menu years later. That just goes to show that you can actually change a classic cocktail into something that has local ingredients and it just works."  

Curious gin facts and its debaucherous history

So whether sitting at the bar with a pint or nestle cosy in a booth with some lobster, Fiskebaren is a place meant to be an easy-going place, with none of the old pretensions about dining out on fish or seafood.  

 

Leave the white gloves at the door  

 

In my time sitting down and speaking with Fiskebaren's founder Anders Selmer, it became more than clear that pretension and "high-snobiety" were the furthest things from his vision of his establishment. In fact, in Ander's own words:  

 

"I, and my colleagues, were very inspired by the New York vibe. You know, loud music, great food, lively atmosphere, and not trying too hard to be "fancy." That's what we aimed for, and I feel we achieved it. We've made a classic here, a kind of legacy."  

 

On that, I followed up by asking what one cocktail and one dish would he like to endure through that legacy.  

 

"A Fleming Collins with the Orange Gin and pair that with Danish oysters."
Fiskebaren

The fish bar that conquered meat town

4
min
Collaborations

If you're not from Copenhagen, you might not suspect that under a giant bas-relief sculpture of a bull and a sign reading Kød og Flæskehal, is nestled one of the city's most iconic fish restaurants.

Since 2009, Fiskebaren has been serving their patrons the very best of oysters, fish and other aquatic delicacies in a lively but relaxed setting. The founder, Anders Selmer, says the reason for opening the restaurant was that he had a hard time finding good fish at a casual restaurant. And it's true, at the time, casual seafood wasn't really anywhere to be found in Denmark.

Fiskebaren

The fish bar that conquered meat town

4
min
Collaborations

If you're not from Copenhagen, you might not suspect that under a giant bas-relief sculpture of a bull and a sign reading Kød og Flæskehal, is nestled one of the city's most iconic fish restaurants.

Since 2009, Fiskebaren has been serving their patrons the very best of oysters, fish and other aquatic delicacies in a lively but relaxed setting. The founder, Anders Selmer, says the reason for opening the restaurant was that he had a hard time finding good fish at a casual restaurant. And it's true, at the time, casual seafood wasn't really anywhere to be found in Denmark.

Arla Unika is helping cheese and booze become the new Milk and Honey
Fiskebaren