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Odense is Denmark’s third biggest city, situated on the country’s third largest island Funen. I’ll stick to the local name Fyn from now on, though. More than anything, the city of Odense is known as the birthplace of the world famous Danish writer H. C. Andersen. His fairytales are amongst the most translated books in the world – some sources even claim his stories might be more read than the Bible. We visited Odense this summer, and like any vacation or travel, we planned our journey around food. To make sure we paid a visit to the best spots for great eats I spoke with several trustworthy sources. In addition to online research, I got great tips from Julie in Visit Denmark, from chef Bent Stiansen of Statholdergaarden, who has a summer house at Fyn, and from foodie and local restaurateur Claus Skovsted, whom I met by chance during my first visit to Sabi Omakase in Stavanger.
Check in to First Hotel Grand
We arrived in Odense after driving from Copenhagen, through Zealand (local name: Sjælland), where we visited Rønnede Kro and Hotel Frederiksminde. Our GPS caused some confusion since the city is currently undergoing hefty construction work to remove the highway that used to divide the town. First Hotel Grand is located right in the middle of the city, about as centrally as one can stay while visiting Odense. Since we came by car, the hotel offered parking spots in a neighboring parking house for a slightly discounted fee. Parts of this historical hotel has been restored to its original 19th-century look. The brick and mortar exterior is beautiful, and all the public areas – the entrance, restaurant & bar and hallways look vintage. The rooms don’t match that style, though, and instead has a more modern type of flooring and wallpaper. Our room was decent enough, but then again we prefer to spend our time outside the hotel so we didn’t opt for a fancy suite.
Drink Wine at S’Vineriet Vinapotek
First stop in Odense, after checking in to the hotel, was Klaregade. S’Vineriet Vinapotek opened last autumn in number 36. I love the name of the wine bar, which is a play on two Danish words. This is the kind of place I imagine must be equally nice in the summer time as the winter season. We sat outside on our first visit because the weather allowed, but the second time we dropped by for a glass we chose the cozy atmosphere inside. Floor-to-ceiling shelves are filled with wine bottles. Old barrels are used as tables, and if you walk deeper into “the cave” a bigger room reveals itself with a lot more space and seating options.
Eat Dinner at Denmark’s Best Bistro (2014)
Restaurant No. 61 was voted Denmark’s Best Bistro in 2014 by Den Danske Spiseguide and the same year chef Martin Pilsmark’s cookbook ’61 Licks’ won the “The World’s Best Cookbook” in the World Gourmand Awards. Of course, we had to check it out! The restaurant is a French-inspired brasserie that uses local and seasonal produce. We ate delicious white asparagus with truffle vinaigrette and bacon, salmon & smoked North sea shrimps, and a hearty dish of chicken in a morel sauce, to name a few.
No. 61 is a small venue with a nice ambiance. It’s decorated with rustic dark wooden tables in a surprisingly un-hipster-esque way. Don’t worry, though, the sommelier has plenty of tattoos to weigh up. The menu is up on the wall on a chalkboard (but you get a printed copy too, thankfully). You can choose between a main course priced at DKK 195, a two-course menu for DKK 275 or the full three-course menu discreetly priced at DKK 325. In either case, you have a choice between two different starters, mains, and desserts. There’s a cheaper wine menu that cost DKK 65 per glass or a more expensive one costing DKK 95 per glass. Tasty food, a friendly host and a relaxing atmosphere combined made this our favorite place in Odense!
Breakfast at Nelle’s Coffee the Next Morning
The next morning we craved a good cup of coffee and headed for Nelle’s Coffee, which was rumored to be the best in town. In fact, they have two locations, so to be precise the one we visited was in Overgade. I was especially happy to discover Nelle’s did V60 brews. Hedda was more focused on something else, though. She had discovered that the coffee shop also sold Jacob & Jakob’s ice cream. Thus, our breakfast this morning consisted of rhubarb sorbet and vanilla ice cream. Washed down with some Ethiopian hot water.
Eat a Classic Lunch by Thomas Pasfall
When acclaimed Norwegian chef Bent Stiansen of the Michelin-starred restaurant Statholdergaarden in Oslo recommends something, you listen. With him being basically a half-citizen of Fyn as well, we had no other choice than to book a lunch at Pasfall – the fine dining restaurant by Thomas Pasfall. Mentioned in the Michelin Guide as one of only two places on Fyn (the other one is Falsled Kro), this classic French eatery has a modern touch to both the food and interior. The presentation is far from new-Nordic, but the expression isn’t hardcore French either – it’s somewhere safely in between.
I loved that the dishes were quite simple and focused on a few ingredients. However, too few of the dishes left a lasting impression in terms of flavor. Also, I could have sworn my foie gras was cold in the core. Such details aside, though, we still had a nice lunch this sunny afternoon. Even Thomas Pasfall dropped by his own restaurant as a guest. Although he seemed to be busy chatting with old friends, so we didn’t get to say hi this time, unfortunately.
Drink a Beer Under the Linden Tree
During our explorations of the city, in particular looking for traces of H.C. Andersen’s history, we stumbled upon an unspoiled oasis in the city center: Restaurant Under Lindetræet. The restaurant is, as the name implies, located right under a big linden tree. It also happens to be a neighbor with the childhood home of H.C. Andersen. Boom! Checked that point off our list. We found a table outside in the sun and ordered a beer from the local brewery Ugly Duck Brewing Co. I wonder where they got the name from … There wasn’t room (in our stomachs) to eat here this day, but we’ll be sure to check out the Fairytale Menu next time.
Enjoy a Japanese Kaiseki Inspired Dinner at Goma
Our last dinner in Odense, and our last meal before we left Fyn to head for Lolland was at Goma. This Japanese style restaurant offers a varied menu of sushi, snacks, and smaller courses. You can choose between sushi menus and sushi omakase menus (where the chef decide), or choose freely from the à la carte menu to have a kaiseki inspired experience.
Kaiseki is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner, where each dish is served separately. At Goma they use original Japanese ceramics to present the food and the interior design is minimalist and contemporary. The main dining area is downstairs, while the upper floor is a cocktail & wine bar. I think we almost ate the entire menu, so this is just a small selection of our favorites. The tempura white asparagus and the gunkan with foie gras & teriyaki sauce were particularly delicious!
Places I Hope to Visit Next Time
Places on my to-visit-list, that weren’t prioritized this time, are amongst others Mmoks: a Nordic restaurant and cocktail bar with a relaxed atmosphere. Sortebro Kro: a tavern, dating back to the 1800s, that hosts a classic French restaurant in the outskirts of the city. Kok og Vin: a French brasserie with seasonal produce, and lastly Gastroteket, which is a Danish/French deli & wine store and restaurant.
What’s your favorite place to eat in Odense? Please share in a comment below.
This travel guide is sponsored by Visit Denmark. All the places were selected by us, and our sponsor had no influence on the recommendations or content of this article. The guide contains an affiliate link to booking.com.