Tips at Danish Restaurants?

To tip or not to tip – that’s the question. Well, it’s a question I often get here on the blog and something I also wonder about myself. I know I’m supposed to tip in the US, and friends and foodies tell me that it’s customary to tip 15-18% or more in the US and 10% in Europe, but we don’t have such unwritten rules in Denmark. Or do we? That’s what I would like to find out.

Money money money

My problem with tips is that I’m always afraid of not leaving enough money on the table. I always feel uncertain about what I am signalling. If I tip a certain amount and then the waiter thinks “Oh, she was that unhappy with the service” I would feel really bad. Unless the service really were bad, of course.

Another thing: Why is it only the service you rate this way? What about the chefs in the kitchen, why wouldn’t I want to let them know I much I enjoyed the food? Are their wages different?

Sometimes I tip, sometimes I don’t. How much I tip also varies a lot. But when I do, it’s usually because I have felt that the service or the experience as a whole was extraordinarily good.

But that’s just me, what about you, do you tip?

I’m also curious to know what you guys in the business think about tips – what’s a reasonably amount? What do you feel when the guest doesn’t leave anything?

Please, enlighten me on this subject!

22 Responses to “Tips at Danish Restaurants?”

  • No. Unfortunately not. 🙁 Do you know of any links to them?

  • did you read what Søren Frank wrote on Berlingske MS on Sunday and Kasper Fogh on Information on Friday?

  • Grazie Trine!

    ci sentiamo e buon lavoro


  • Ah, Alessandro, FANTASTICO! Grazie mille!

    I’m going to move these comments of yours to my post (when I post it) to my review of the event. Very soon…

    A presto!

  • Hi Trine, just for the (raw) record, this is what I’ve sen to all the journalists… link to Kasper article

    I have received queries from some of you regarding the basic facts behind how Cook it Raw got started. I decided to share them with you, just for the record. For those of you who don’t now me well, I run a company called Nordic Gourmet Tour, which specializes in the concepts and organization of gastronomic events. Up til now, it has been mainly directed a Scandinavian events, but this year I’m branching out to include Italy and other places.

    The idea for Cook it Raw was born this winter on a very cold and grey afternoon here in Copenhagen. I was asked by the project leader of Copenhagen Cooking food festival (whose advisory board I am on) to come up with a concept for a food event related to climate issues. The proposal was accepted and we started looking for ways to finance it.

    That is when I met Pelle Andersen, head person at brandingdenmark, part of the Ministry of Business and Economic Affairs. After several meetings with him, I was asked to make a proposal on how to promote Denmark’s high-end gastronomy abroad.

    It took 30 pages and several meetings for us to begin our collaboration on one of the many projects described in my proposal. Cook it Raw was about to take shape. This is when I approached René Redzepi to ask if he liked the idea and also if he was interested in hosting the event at Noma. He of course said yes. After that I contacted Andrea Petrini to give me a hand in selecting the chefs. The concept and budget could then be finalized with Pelle Anderson.

    Once that was approved, I started organizing the event, including:

    conctacting the chefs and explaining the idea
    doing the same with the journalists
    coordinating food requests and liasion with Noma’s kitchens
    travel and hotel arrangements
    coordinate the trip to Lammefjorden with René
    organize and coordination of the journalists and chefs once they came to Copenhagen
    follow-up with the press
    I think we all agree that the event has been a huge success, and no one is more happy than me about that! Thank you all for your participation.

    a presto,


  • I read Søren’s yes, it was stunning! Loved it. I’m also delivering an article for Politiken. I’ll send you the link when it’s awailable. Should be this week as well.
    Ah, I’ve missed Kasper’s – if you have one example at noma, perhaps I can borrow it Tuesday next week? 😉

  • Looking very much forward to read it! ciao Alessandro

    ps did you read what Søren Frank wrote on Berlingske MS on Sunday and Kasper Fogh on Information on Friday?

  • Ciao Alessandro,

    I certainly remember you. Thanks so much for your comment with the link to the article, and even more so for inviting me to Cook it Raw! It was a fantastic experience for me. I’ll be posting my impressions from it later this week, so stay tuned, please 😉

    Ci vediamo

  • Ciao Trine,

    we met at Noma the 24th, I’m the organizer of the event Cook it Raw…congratulation for you blog. I’ll check it out more often.

    a presto

  • Hey Rob, thanks so much for your contribution to the discussion! On another note, how’s that exeprience of yours coming up that we talked about? 😉

    Zarah, THANK YOU so much for this. We talked about this off-line last year and like then I still think that you have some very good points. I’m very happy to know that it’s appreciated even though I see no affect on the waiter’s face. In fact I think that’s a good thing. I would be unhappy if the waiter would look like I left too small a tip. I like what you say about always working evenings and weekends to serve us office-workers. It’s good manners to show that’s appreciated, if not always, then some times at least.
    You give very good food for thoughts! 😉

  • Well, a little late to the party (although I’ve been chiming in on an earlier post you did, Trine ;)) – but better late than never.

    Having worked as a waiter in Copenhagen for almost a decade now (oh dear, am I THAT old?), I have to admit, I still can’t put down a rule in black on white with regards to tipping. Really, the only thing there is to say is: it’s entirely up to you. We get paid decently, and we won’t starve if you don’t leave a tip. That said, when I worked full time as a waiter (at a nice, but not Michelin starred restuarant), I could get by on a day-to-day basis on my tips, and there’s no doubt that tips are your compensation for the shitty hours, the long days and the (sometimes, but seldom) rude people.

    There are differences, though – I would say that generally, the more expensive the restaurant, the smaller your tips. That often has to do with the fact that a lot of the fine dining restaurants are owned by the chefs, so tips are divided more evenly among staff – either on a per-hour/per-shift basis where all staff on duty share the days harvest, or at the end of the month, where everything is pooled and divided. I’ve worked at places that divided the tips by everything from 10% kitchen/90 % waitstaff, to 50/50 divisions. I’ve even worked at places that had a fixed rate of tips going to the kitchen, no matter how much (or little) you made in tips. It really is up to the owners and the staff. So that takes care of how it’s divided – basically, you can never tell 😉

    That leaves the dreaded: AMOUNT. How MUCH do you actually leave. I agree with people here saying that at cafées, change should suffice. But sometimes, you dine at places that are a café/bistro/restaurant – so what do you tip then? Again, I must repeat myself – it’s up to you. You never HAVE to, and it’s never expected – but it is appreciated (though the face of the waiter may not show it) Eating say, just an entree at one of these places that costs about 150 kr., I may leave anything between 10-30 kr. pr. person dining, depending on the service. In fact, I think that’s very much my guideline – at a bistro, I seldom leave more than a 100 kr. for two people dining, probably more like 50 kr. At places like these, they have anything between 20-40 tables at the place, some of them may be seated twice, and they’re probably 3-5 waiters working – if every table leaves 50 kr., it’s sure to make a difference for the people working there. I am biased, no doubt, having worked like this, but you have to get your principles from somewhere 😉 Generally, though, a tip is thought to be a sign of appreciation, if they’re not odd change. Change (as in a pocket’s worth of 50-ører and 2 kroner) is NOT okay (unless at a café where you just had coffee) – but say, 20-50 kr. in coins (preferably the golden ones), I would personlly consider a sign of appreciation.

    I think things get tricky when you go to the more expensive places – if there is ever a place where the staff is worth it, it’s at places like Noma, Geranium etc. The staff know their stuff, they’re polite, kind and attentive – and as far as I know, they’re not paid any better than the part-time student waiter busting her behind off down at the local corner café. Plus, at these places, they don’t get the “bonus” of turning tables – the people sitting there are there for the entire evening. Should you then double the tips? I often do. I do feel like 100 kr. per person dining is a lot. I’m not saying everyone should pay that, and I’m not saying I always do (sometimes I just can’t bring myself to put down, that. number. on. the. receipt.) But aren’t they worth it? Haven’t you had (one of) the time(s) of your life? Does it make that much of a difference to you? If I can’t afford to leave a tip, then really, I don’t think I can afford to dine out. An extra 100 kr. on a 2000 kr. bill isn’t all that much, anyways.

    Do you always have to put your money where your mouth is? No, you don’t. And you’re never expected to. The thank you’s are appreciated, a lot, too. But if you choose to do so, I say leave something that is noticeable. Otherwise, opt out.

    (That was a long one – sorry Trine! 🙂 Hope it’s of some use though)

  • Hi Trine, we usually tip around 10% in the UK unless the service is bad – and maybe round it up to 15% if it’s really good – although a lot of restaurants here now have a ‘discretionary’ 12.5% service charge added. We recently had a meal that included a service charge, but the sommelier was quite rude to one of our guests. We paid the service, but asked that it be given to the waiting staff rather than the sommelier.

    When we were in Copenhagen, we knew the meals at Noma and Geranium were going to be very expensive, and we had changed currency to pay in cash (we get charged a lot to use our credit cards abroad). We wanted to know that we had enough, so my wife emailed the restaurants to ask if the prices on the website included service. They both told us that the price we saw was what we would pay, so we didn’t really leave any tip, just the few coins we would have had in change – although we felt a bit guilty at the time because they were so charming!

  • The "Gastronaut"

    around here….

    The Luxemburg area…normally tips is shared only by the service staff or at least that is what I have heard of.

    I have also experienced restaurants in Luxembourg where the owner kept 50% for the business and only 50% was shared among the staff !!!!

  • Thanks Anders! 😉

    Nancy, I find it interesting that you left 10% in DK but in France “only” up to €20?

    “Gastronaut”, so seems like you don’t distiguish btw Europe and DK, hm, okay. 🙂

    Erwin, thanks for your contribution and I’ve also heard that it’s common in DK to share the tip between everyong on the front and in the kitchen. Thank you *very* much for the link to, Bitten – a hidden surprise! 😀

    So, unfortunately we’ve only heard about the customers’ point of view… at least so far. 🙂

    Thanks everyone!

  • We usually round up to the next 100 or 200 DKK depending on size of the bill; for small café bills we leave perhaps 10-30 DKK in coins. We’re less inclined to leave a large tip if we’ve bought expensive wine (which in Denmark has huge markup). For truly exceptional meals and service (e.g. Geranium) we’ve left 10% or more.

    My hope is that the extra money is divided among salaried staff as a bonus, but I’m not sure there’s any guarantee of that (compared to e.g. US where tips are a crucial part of waitstaff salaries). But I’ve been told by one waiter that this is what they do with the extras at the end of the night.

    When visiting London I’ve left 5-15% depending on the experience, but most restuarants, especially high-end, automatically add perhaps 12.5% service charge in which case I leave nothing extra.

    In Paris I’ve experienced that service charge was automatically added but the fact it was so was written in a small font in French at the bottom of the menu. That was a few years ago however.

  • As for Denmark/Europe

    If the service is an any way not up to par I dont tip.

    If the service is normal, I tip 5-20 euros.

    If the service is top at a top restaurant I tip 20-50 Euro. I seldom tip more than 50 euro, even if the bill at for example Le Cinq, Schloss Berg or Sölleröd Kro clocks in at above 500 euro.

  • We live in Manhattan, and in the United States, we leave a 20 percent tip, at least. In France, I leave 10 or 20 euros, depending on the restaurant. When we were in Denmark last summer, we left a 10 percent tip when we went to Noma, Geranium, MR and Nouveau. We were told that a tip was not necessary, but we felt that we wanted to reward our servers for their wonderful service, but still we were never sure if it was enough.

  • Thanks a lot guys for sharing your thoughts!

    JC, I’m embarassed but can you explain me the difference between salary and wage, please?
    And yup, we have to go to Urasawa! 🙂 On my wish list now, must have lost it when I moved to my own domaine.

    Neil, interesting info about the Michelin Guide and their advice on tips. Btw, What’s the reason why you don’t tip in ine high-end restaurants?

    Michael, 15% is statutory? It’s been too long since I have been to France – I wasn’t aware of that. Nice review of your Millesieme 82 visit! Send my best to Linda, please!

    by the way, a few restaurnats I have been to lately now bring the payment machine all the way to your table and ask you if you’d like to include some tip on your bill. Then they ask you to press Yes or No while the server stands there and wait. Somehow I find that a bit intimidating (at least it was the first few times, no I’ve gotten use to it) and makes me feel bad if I say no. I don’t like that because they make me feel like I’m forced to tip.

  • Trine,
    I generally agree with JC about the US, although my %s are a little lower, perhaps because I am older and I haven’t adjusted to the upward creep.

    In my other life in France I have carefully observed other tables. Most people do not leave anything beyond the statutory 15% service charge. I usually do not either, but maybe a third of the time I will leave 10 or 20 €.

  • I also think it is dangerous to think of Europe as having a standard tipping practice. Michelin attempt to give guidance on this. For example, they state that tipping is not necessary in Denmark but that up to 15% would be normal in the UK.

    Here in Denmark I tend to feel as Trine does that nothing is better than a small tip which sends an ambiguous message. I tend to leave the change for the server in a small cafe but I don’t tip in the top end restaurants.

    I would love to hear from serving staff in Copenhagen restaurants about what the expectations are. Are Michelin really correct that tipping is not expected?


  • In the US, wages for servers (and bartenders) are often very low (sometimes Minimum Wage for servers I believe, though that probably isn’t the case at high-end restaurants), and most of their income comes from tips (it is impossible to live on Minimum Wage in any major city here). The amount that most restaurants will add to the bill for large parties has gone up in the last few years, to 18%, sometimes 20% (typically sub-par restaurants in touristy areas that are more about image than actual quality). I generally tip 20-25% if the service is outstanding, maybe more if also I’m drunk and the server is very very pretty. 😉

    If a place give me bad service, I’ll leave (in the US) maybe 15%, maybe a little less. The difference between whether I suspect it was an off night, or whether I think that’s just how the place is, is whether or not I go back. Luckily, I have not had service so poor that I felt the need to complain to management, although I remember at least one occasion where a friend did.

    Tips (and sales tax) are not factored into the menu price the way they are in Europe either, so when you come here and we go to Urasawa ;), the $350 prix fixe is actually $350 + 9.25% sales tax + tip, which puts the actual cost at $452.38 (20% tip), not including drinks/water. Which makes me very glad it was “only” $300 prix fixe when I went last September (total with (not quite enough) drinks, tax and tip was $500).

    Chefs are either salaried, or they earn a high wage, not sure. Either way, they make good money, several times that of a server. Again, I don’t know actual number, esp. not for high-end restaurants, but California Minimum Wage is $8/hour. For a 40-hour week, 50 weeks/year, that’s $16,000/year. The average sous chef makes somewhere around $45,000/year, so they are not dependent on tips the way servers are. However, some places will pool the tips together and split it among everyone – definitely servers and bussers, maybe kitchen staff as well, not sure. I’m sure someone who has actually worked in a restaurant can tell you much better than I can.

    There are (low-end?) places in the US where tips are not customary. I don’t mean fast food or anything where there is no real table service. A friend from North Carolina told me that some places out there, sometimes people don’t even leave tips, or leave insignificant amounts. Also, for whatever reason, it seems like it’s part of the Chinese culture (this I got from observing my parents all my life) to tip less (10-15%, maybe less during lunch). Which…I realize that, when we’re in a Chinese restaurant, that maybe they are used to that. But we’re not in China/Taiwan, where the cost of living is much lower, so to me, it’s inappropriate. And sometimes they tip that way in non-Chinese restaurants too. Ugh.

    I am always unsure about what to do about tipping in Europe, so I tip 10%, which was an amount my friends and I decided on for no good reason, and which seems to be the recommended amount by others here.

Comments are currently closed.