Sunday, 31 August 2014

Unlikely Neighbors

If you ever came to Zürich on a business trip you surely were taken to Kronenhalle - the best traditional restaurant in town at Bellevue square. Bought and restored by Gottleib and Hulda Zumsteg in 1925, this place has become a refuge for many European artists fleeing from spreading nazism in neighboring European countries. 

Later, Zumsteg's son Gustave started to built the art collection in the restaurant. The famous silk trader, he came to know couturiers like Channel, Dior, Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, Givenchy and through them the doors where open to became friend with artists like Chagall, Miró, Giacomettis and many others. Since it was a meeting place for the local bourgeoisie,  Kronenhalle has become a perfect showroom for international artists. 

Each art work was acquired, inexpensively, Gustav managed to persuade Chagall to design the stained glass window on the outside wall, Picasso to donate several of his sketches, Giacometti to design the tables and lamps.
photo: The Yam List

A couple of weeks ago I had a pleasure of contemplating this Chagal's sunset, sitting at the nearby table under the Miro's painting. But it is not only the art collection which attracts globe trotters from all over the world - Krone's finest menu will sweep you off the feet: traditional Swiss recipes are served from a trolley where they are kept warm, you'll be advised on the most suitable wine to go with your Zürich style veal  and rösti, and I heard that their Robespierre filet makes quite a spectacle.  

And just two steps away from Bellevue you'll find another restaurant\wine bar which will steal your attention and tell you a completely different story about the town's gastronomical institution. The story that I heard on Friday night from the owner of Weisse Rose goes that Hulda (supposedly the founder of Kronenhlle) was working at this very restaurant  and Gottlieb Zumsteg came to Weisse Rose for his favorite soup and the two got married later. 
While listening to intriguing stories that go back one century, I was observed by these two gentlemen, Peter and Ernst Weingartner, the regular guests at the Weisse Rose. They whispered to me later that I shouldn't  listen to the owner's tales, as Jan Aerts is a "big lier".

photo: NZZ\Tanner

This Dutchman who came to Switzerland in the sixties is a big art collector too. With his partner Juan Cardozo (a painter himself) they built up a serious collection of naïve and outsider art, a fraction of which is on display at their little yet legendary establishment, consisting of six wooden tables. 

Aerts's collection includes several paintings of Hans Krusi, for example (at the photo below), who came by the Schweizerhof Hotel at Zürich's Bahnhofstrasse (where Aerts has landed a job as a trainee)  to sell flowers for a cup of hot chocolate in return. After his death in 1995, Krusi is considered one of the biggest Swiss outsider artists, leaving behind near 4000 sketches, drawings, paintings and photographs. 

photo: Eveline Meeuwse
So here is my weekend story. If you are in Zürich go to Bellevue square, to Weisse Rose restaurant and then after a good wine experience go to Kronenhalle for their heavenly chocolate mousse… Maybe these two neighbors are not that unlikely after all.

Have a cosy Sunday evening.


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