Truly a bar of the people

A local bar that doubles as a cosy café during the day and hosts live music performances by night – what more could one ask for? Perhaps an eclectic ambience? Well that option too is ticked off if you find yourself at Frederiksberg’s popular bar café, Bartof. Yes, this lively bar situated on the prominent Nordre Fasanvej is a bar/café that promotes and hosts musical talents throughout the year, while offering delicious home-made food.

In a city like Copenhagen, with a strong café/bar culture, it is only natural that one is spoilt for choice and yet left confused when it comes to choosing a bar – more so, when they mirror each other in settings, menu and service. But not every bar achieves a perfect combination. Moreover, once you’ve thrown in the element of live music, it is only a handful of bars that come to anyone’s mind and one of them is Bartof.

Owner Joakim Friis-Holm is an ardent music enthusiast and musician who has been involved in the Danish music scene for over 20 years, performing at festivals and concerts on the Irish harp, guitar and other stringed instruments. This year when Bartof celebrates its 20th anniversary, it will also be celebrating nearly 20 years of hosting concerts and gigs. From acoustic to semi-acoustic bands, Bartof has hosted performances over the years by names such as The Seamus Cahill Band, Ash Plant, Pentangle and Cecilia Norby. The place also promotes and supports up-and-coming musicians and works in conjunction with music festivals in the region such as Winter Jazz and the Roskilde Festival by holding themed concerts and performances.

Such is Bartof’s passion for music that food is never served during a performance and entry is strictly ticket-only in order to attract the right kind of crowd. Tickets prices vary from 30-200kr depending on the performances. Tickets can be purchased at the door on the evening of the performance or by contacting the café beforehand.

Besides music gigs, Bartof also holds a monthly quiz night (in Danish), hosted by none other than popular Danish guitarist Michael Denner. The topics for the quiz (besides music obviously) include general knowledge, film, the arts, sport and politics, and it attracts a lot of mixed interest groups – a crowd of around 90-100 people on average. It starts at 19:30, is four per team, lasts approximately 150 minutes, and costs 40kr per head to enter (call Denner on 3315 9319 to book a place or find a team). The next edition is on January 17 or 24.  

One cannot talk about a bar without mentioning the drinks and in this regard, Bartof tops the ranks with its unique collection of bottled beers from microbreweries in Denmark, Belgium and Germany. Friis-Holm is a conscious promoter of small breweries and regularly changes the draught beers. The beers from the breweries in Herslev and Birthe Skands (Bryggeriet Skands) are highly recommended.

As a repeat customer at Bartof, I would say that I am drawn to its quirky and mismatching furniture that reflects the mix in customers in age, culture and music preferences. Located close to the Copenhagen Business School, it is a local favourite of both Danish and international students, while its gigs attract another type of customer altogether. In short, it’s impossible to feel out of place at Bartof: it’s truly a bar of the people.

Bartof Nordre Fasanvej 46, Frederiksberg 2000;

Open Mon-Thu 11:00-01:00, Fri & Sat 11:00-03:00, Sun 11:00-01:00;