Swiss perspectives in 10 languages

Kunststuben called “Best Restaurant in Europe”

Peterman's Kunststuben is a mecca for art and food lovers alike. Kunststuben

Horst Petermann's Kunststuben restaurant near Zurich, one of the few jewels in Switzerland's gastronomic crown, has another accolade.

Zagat, the foremost food guide in the United States, gave Kunststuben a stunning 28 out of 30 points, and pronounced it the Best in Europe.

He may be a German chef, making French cuisine in a Swiss restaurant, but Petermann has won numerous awards for his Kunststuben restaurant.

Guests gladly make the 15-minute pilgrimage from Zurich to the lakeside town of Küsnacht to try his whisked pumpkin soup with roasted foie gras.

A hint of curry

Petermann reinvented the traditional winter staple to create a light soup spiked with a hint of curry.

On a recent visit to the restaurant, my dining partner, Ramsey, opted for the set menu’s entrée of chilled foie gras, a light paté rolled into a ball and caramelised.

The friendly staff helped us pick a wine from the vast international selection of reds and whites on offer. The white Merlot from the Swiss canton of Ticino came highly recommended.

“For a Swiss wine, that’s not bad,” my dinner companion stuttered after his first gulp. “It’s a great, crisp, fresh white wine and if you didn’t know it, you really wouldn’t think this was Swiss, would you?”

Delving into noodles

Black truffles and mushrooms proved a perfect foil to the simple main course of baby chicken, making the two stars awarded the Kunststuben by the Michelin reviewers seem grudging.

Roasted snapper in a red wine sauce complimented by noodles smothered in a lemon dressing for a main course was a hit with my dining partner. Anxious not to compromise his shirt or the white tablecloth, he dived into the noodles with somewhat less abandon than the entrées.

To create a symphony of tastes, textures and flavours, Petermann swears by fresh produce from local farmers and says he is particularly fond of organic food.

He rules his kitchen with immense pride, and with three Gault-Millau awards under his belt, scoffs at the idea of becoming a celebrity chef with several restaurants to his name.

“My passion is my business…food…I dream about this and think it’s like music,” Petermann exclaimed.

Orchestrating the menu

He extolls the virtue of always being present in the kitchen to attend to every detail of creating a dish. He is a maestro chef who believes in a love that inspires world-class food, and takes his cue from the opera.

“I have several friends from the Zurich Opera scene, like its director, Alexander Pereira. And food and music are very similar, you must have a flair for it,” he said.

Chef Petermann’s passion for food is hard to conceal. For 20 years, he has thrilled his faithful clientele with a quality of cuisine that is not easy to come by in Switzerland.

Taste his cuisine and it will soon become apparent why his Kunststuben restaurant is a mecca for art and food lovers alike.

The discrete art on the walls gives a hint of what the Kunststuben was in its former life: an art gallery. Dinners chat animatedly, oblivious to time and subtly attended to by the helpful waitresses.

The tables are well spaced to guarantee intimacy and the crisp white cloths offset the heavy gold and ochre drapes.

And then, the bill

A three-course set menu at SFr135 ($80) per person is in line with fine dining prices, as is SFr45 for half a bottle of superb wine.

The crème brûlée, heaving with vanilla, topped off the meal. The caramelised nuts proved a thoughtful addition to the oh-so creamy dessert. With time running short to catch the last train back to Bern, the symphony of petit fours had to go, unfortunately, untouched.

Petermann’s wife bade my dinner partner and me a fond farewell.

We left feeling that we had been to an exclusive dinner party, and we were convinced that Kunststuben was, indeed, a jewel in the Swiss gastronomic crown.

by Samantha Tonkin

Deeply Read

Most Discussed

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here . Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR