Apollo Bar in Copenhagen The First Time, I Left Because of Horrible Service

The first time I visited Apollo Bar in Copenhagen, I left because of horrible service. No one welcomed or even looked at me when I arrived, and I actually had a hard time telling if the place was open or not. When I asked to see a menu, a waiter just pointed at a dirty copy laying on the bar, without bothering to ask if I wanted a table. Everyone was avoiding eye contact and made me feel uncomfortable and ignored. So I decided to leave. I honestly don’t expect much when I visit a restaurant. A greeting and a smile go a long way. But I think guests should be treated with respect when they have chosen an establishment to spent their money, and, obviously, the staff should get an equal treatment in return for being a good host. If either part misbehaves, they have no business in the restaurant, neither as personnel nor clientele.

Summer at Nyhavn in Copenhagen
Summer at Nyhavn in Copenhagen

So what made me go back to Apollo Bar? I also believe everyone should get a second chance at making a good impression. Besides, the venue is beautiful, and I had heard from people I trust that the food was good. I also love Frederik Bille Brahe’s original spot – Atelier September. That’s why we decided to return to Charlottenborg Kunsthal this summer, and eat at the museum’ lunch spot – Apollo Bar. No doubt, a very Instagram-friendly place along Nyhavn. I love that you can sit inside, outside under the umbrellas, or even in the herb garden.

The welcome this time was slightly better. At least, we were offered a table, but equally fast, they seemed to forget about us. Eventually, we got the attention of a female waiter and asked for a set of menus. She was acting friendly, but you know how you can tell from the body language and tone of voice that a person is not being genuine? Giving her the benefit of the doubt, however, we proceeded to place our order. Some minor screw-ups with drink orders can be forgiven, and also the fact that the kitchen decided to split up our order. Which caused a misunderstanding where we didn’t get the side dishes that we wanted with the bread, and so forth. In the end, though, that all got sorted.

The entrance to Apollo Bar
The entrance to Apollo Bar
Apollo Bar is located in Charlottenborg Kunsthal
Apollo Bar is located in Charlottenborg Kunsthal
Rye bread, butter & egg
Rye bread, butter & egg

Once all the food arrived, it was not at all bad to spend some time in the sunny garden of Charlottenborg. Some of the dishes at Apollo Bar seemed identical with plates from Atelier September, like the rye bread with butter and boiled egg. Others were more unique for this spot, e.g. the cantaloupe melon and cucumber salad, which was a refreshing summer dish. My favorite serving was the burrata with haricot vert and confit lemons in olive oil. Perfectly balanced flavors. The same cannot be said about the hummus with broccoli and dukkah. In itself, the spread was tasty enough, but why anyone would pair it with raw pieces of broccoli is beyond me. To finish, I couldn’t help but order a dessert of ricotta and strawberries on toast. Surprisingly, the bread was a darker sourdough variety rather than a fine brioche, which did not fit well with the sweetness of the topping. Those delicious Danish strawberries had deserved a better match.

Service improved drastically at the end of our meal, when a friendly and attentive guy took over the responsibility for our table. Suddenly, we felt like we were guests at a restaurant again, instead of just annoying customers. As long as Apollo Bar makes sure they have employees with the right attitude, this could be a proper gem in the Danish capital.

Inside the Apollo Bar
Inside the Apollo Bar
Art on display at Apollo Bar
Art on display at Apollo Bar
Kindeli Blanco, New Zealand
Kindeli Blanco, New Zealand
Cozy in the gardens of Apollo Bar
Cozy in the gardens of Apollo Bar
Burrata with beans and melon salad with dill
Burrata with beans and melon salad with dill
Toast with ricotta cheese and strawberries
Toast with ricotta cheese and strawberries

Apollo Bar in Copenhagen

What’s your worst service experience? Feel free to share in a comment below.

Anders Husa

I am Anders Husa – a foodie living in Oslo. I eat at the best restaurants in Oslo, Copenhagen, Stockholm and the major food destinations in the world. I share my foodie stories here.

6 comments

  • It sounds like even after a year they have not worked out all the service kinks, which means they don’t care that much (a huge downside of chef-driven restaurants in general). For some people location and food will trump service; we can all gloss over defects if there are enough positives to outbalance the negatives.
    But this is as good a place as any to ask for your thoughts on tipping in Scandinavia. My Norwegian friends say just add 10%, but is that how you see it. Is the same throughout Scandanavia? What about exceptional service? And when service is sub-par? Also, this brings up (as usual) my little pet peeve: wine pricing. When wine already 3-4x the retail price at Vinmonopolet, does one still tip on that (I assume so . . .). Look forward to hearing how you see it.

    • Hi Mark. I agree with your friend about tipping. 10% is pretty standard. If service is exceptional, feel free to add more. I don’t tip if there’s no service involved, e.g. if I pay and get everything at the bar. I tip less when service is total crap, but usually, I’ll at least round up to nearest 50 or 100. You still tip on top of wine prices, yes, but probably less than 10% if it’s a very expensive wine.

  • So on point. I was there with a group of friends this summer and the service was so horrible. We had three different people waiting on us, and they all messed up the orders and was soo sloow..And we only had starters and drinks..

    Such a pitty, because they didn’t have to do that much to make it a nice experience

    • I can’t decide if the waiters are just lazy, or if they honestly think they are so much cooler than their guests. It seemed like an attitude problem with many of them, but then we had a really nice guy in the end that saved the day.

  • Sadly, I can only tepeat the same impression you had and have friends saying the same too: rather uneven service. At best it’s nice, at worst it’s incredibly annoying with an air of superiority. I wish they would take the time to straighten it up since it’s a fine kitchen (although I totally agree about the unwise decision the serve raw broccoli with anything) in glorious surroundings.

    • Not sure if I’m happy that others have had the same experience, but at least it shows it wasn’t just me being unlucky. I hope they sort it out too. Lovely space.

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