After more than a decade of expanding and refining the concept, Fiskehuset Bogense today attracts visitors from near and far – even the Crown Prince of Denmark has paid a visit. Scan Magazine talks to the owner of the busy seafood restaurant and hears the story of how he once went out to pick up pizzas and came home the owner of a fish-market hall.
TEXT: SIGNE HANSEN | PHOTOS: FISKEHUSET BOGENSE
Fiskehuset Bogense is also a popular venue for celebrations of all kinds.
In 2006, more or less on an impulse, Torben and Merete Agerholm bought an old fish-market hall in Bogense harbour and turned it into a fishmonger shop. A couple of years later, to increase turnover and maximise the freshness of the fish, they started running a weekly buffet where people, for the modest price of 79 DKK (around 9.50 GBP), could help themselves to as much seafood as they liked. The plates and cutlery were in plastic and everything was self-service, but the buffet was a hit, and thus Fiskehuset Bogense was created.
Home-smoked fish is one of the popular delicacies of the buffet.
Every year since, little by little, the couple has expanded and refined their concept, turning Fiskehuset Bogense into an attraction of its own. Proving how far it has come since its humble beginnings, this year, at Cross Denmark, UCI Cyclo-Cross World Championships, Fiskehuset Bogense had HRH the Crown Prince Frederik of Denmark among its guests. “That we have come this far is mainly thanks to three central aspects of our concept: the first one is our produce – we only use the best quality; the second is our employees – they always meet our guests with a smile; and then there’s the price – it has to be reasonable, something that regular people can afford,” says Torben Agerholm. “It’s a concept we’ve been faithful to since day one. I might be able to accept that a dish is a bit of a miss, because that just means that our chefs are trying out new things, but we have never compromised on the quality.”
The ability to keep prices at a reasonable level stems partly from the fact that the restaurant still adjoins the original shop selling fresh and smoked fish, which means that the restaurant buys its seafood at wholesale prices.
Set in Bogense harbour, Fiskehuset Bogense offers beautiful views and a laid-back maritime atmosphere.
From near and far
Thanks to its simple concept and broad appeal, Fiskehuset today has people driving in from all over Funen. And while the concept is still essentially the same as it has always been – a large buffet with small, freshly made dishes, seafood salads and home-smoked fish – every year has seen new additions. “Every year, we’ve added something to the experience – a large wooden boat to present the buffet on, small outdoor cabins on our porch, or a new corner in the restaurant,” says Agerholm.
The restaurant has also become a popular venue for parties and private events, with many locals choosing to celebrate everything from confirmations to anniversaries in its casual maritime settings. “It’s pretty much the same concept as on a normal visit, but you can add the waiters, table settings and anything else that you need for a party,” explains Agerholm. “You have a separate section, but it’s still based on the buffet, which means that you can walk around, chat, and stroll down to the harbour while the kids go crab fishing.”
Pizzas and a fish-market hall
While Fiskehuset Bogense is today the centre point of the Agerholm family’s life, it coming into their hands was not the result of months or years of premeditation – quite the contrary. “It was a bit of a coincidence that we saw the ‘for sale’ sign on a building in the harbour when holidaying in the area,” explains Agerholm. “I noted down the number of the estate agent, and later in the evening, when I was driving into town to pick up a couple of pizzas, I gave him a call. He happened to be around, and so I returned home having not just bought pizzas, but also the old fish-market hall!”
It was, however, his wife who had the idea of turning the old fish market into a fishmonger shop. After that, it all just went step by step, and today, the restaurant is so popular that the Agerholms have a team of 45 employees helping them out, including their two grown-up daughters. “It’s a family business, and we’re always in the restaurant ourselves,” Agerholm says. “That’s how it’s always been, and that’s how it will continue to be.”
With 200 to 300 daily guests during peak season, it can at times be hard work, but there are no regrets, says Agerholm. “It is a busy life, but then there are those days when the sun is shining and the place is just buzzing with happy people – it doesn’t get any better than that.”
With small, freshly made dishes, seafood salads, and home-smoked fish, Fiskehuset Bogense’s buffet has become an attraction of its own.
High season (June, July and August): Open for lunch and dinner every day.
Easter until June and mid-August until mid-October: Open for dinner Friday, lunch and dinner Saturday, and lunch Sunday.
Prices: Lunch 149 DKK. Dinner 189 DKK. (18/23 GBP)
Location: Fiskehuset Bogense is located in Bogense harbour, Vestre Havnevej 19 – 5400 Bogense, a 40-minute drive from Odense.
To book, call: +45 6481 1072