Photo: Courtesy Maxim’s
This post originally appeared at Departures.Art and food have always had a harmonious relationship—just look at Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Indeed, Pablo Picasso, Norman Rockwell and Pierre Auguste Renoir all created artworks about breaking bread and, in fact, Picasso and Henri Matisse were both known to paint for their dinners.
So it comes as no surprise that a big trend in art today has to do with eating: Fine-dining establishments are morphing into art galleries.
At first, world-class restaurants simply started popping up in museums. In 2005, the Museum of Modern Art debuted The Modern, in which restaurateur Danny Meyer elevated institutionalized museum fare to a Michelin-starred level in a setting overlooking works by Alexander Calder, Auguste Rodin and more in MoMa’s Sculpture Garden. Wolfgang Puck has been dabbling in the museum restaurant arena for years as well, setting up shop in Chicago, Boston, Los Angeles and Washington; the view from his 20.21 restaurant at Minneapolis’s Walker Art centre (now a new bôite called Gather) was the cherry on top (literally—diners had a view of Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s iconic sculpture Spoonbridge and Cherry).
These days, though, you don’t have to eat at a museum to see excellent art. Restaurants around the world are attracting patrons with their own art collections and rotating exhibitions. In Zurich, Kronenhalle’s original owner, Hulda Zumsteg, and her son, Gustav, spent decades amassing a personal art collection, filling the restaurant with art by German and Swiss painter Paul Klee, Russian Abstract painter Wassily Kandinsky, Swiss painter Ferdinand Hodler and others. The furniture is also priceless: The tables in the bar area are by Swiss sculptor Alberto Giacometti. On the Strip in Las Vegas, the Bellagio’s Picasso restaurant has originals by the namesake. Even Puck has gotten in on the craze with his steak house Cut, at London’s 45 Park Lane Hotel, where Damien Hirst’s Pslamsseries is on view.
Similar to gallery owners who champion the work of emerging artists, restaurateurs are doing so too. Mr. Chow is perhaps the modern pioneer: he traded noodles for artwork n the height of the 1980s art craze; now his restaurants have shown works by artists ranging from Andy Warhol to Keith Haring. Meanwhile, the Santa Monica outpost of New York power-lunching hub Michael’s has an upstairs gallery with rotating exhibitions with work by local artists. And the Michelin-starred Number One, at the Balmoral in Edinburgh, displays work by graduates of the Royal College of Art in London.
With restaurants becoming the world’s best galleries, here are eight spots worth the art and food. Grab a glass of wine, a comfortable chair and a delicious excuse to sit and stare at the walls for an hour or two.
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This story was originally published by Departures.
For the Eyes: At this Midtown power-lunch spot, nearly 20 giant Andy Warhol portraits from real-estate tycoon Aby Rosen's Lever House Art Collection line the dining room. While the art has been known to rotate, silkscreened icons who have livened up the walls include Aretha Franklin, Alfred Hitchcock and Giorgio Armani. Ask for a booth in order to get the best view.
For the Palate: The restaurant serves Milanese-inspired fare with some hearty New York twists: spaghetti with sea urchin, a much-beloved vitello tonnato and an inches-thick New York strip steak. This past summer the restaurant opened an outdoor dining terrace and lounge on the patio (which has played host to outdoor installations such as Tom Sachs's Hello Kitty), where diners can order a full meal or stick to the new, small-plates lounge menu.390 Park Avenue; casalever.com.
For the Eyes: Walking into Maxim's is a bit like travelling back in time. The restaurant is an Art Nouveau gem, brimming with original murals, oil paintings, stained glass, ornate carvings and architectural details from the period. The museum upstairs, furnished from the personal collection of the restaurant's owner, Pierre Cardin, holds more than 550 works from the Belle Epoch, with art from American Art Nouveau decorative artist Louis Comfort Tiffany, French glass artist Émile Gallé, French iridescent potter Clément Massier and others.
For the Palate: The menu--like the décor--is classic French. While Wolfgang Puck no longer occupies the kitchen (he worked there as a young chef), the roasted scallops from Normandie, lobster cocotte and beef filet are worth the visit. 3, Rue Royale; maxims-de-paris.com.
For the Eyes: It's no surprise that Tru, which is situated within a space that looks like an art gallery--stark white walls, high ceilings and pin-spot lighting--houses works by some of the 20th-century's biggest names in art. The collection includes one of Warhol's iconicMarilyn (Reversal Series) silkscreens and a Yves Klein sculpture coated in the famous International Klein Blue alongside pieces by German visual artist Gerhard Richter, American geometric painter Peter Halley, Brazilian visual artist Vik Muniz and others.
For the Palate: Tru champions progressive French cuisine, and its chef, Anthony Martin, is known for crafting visually arresting dishes. Diners who choose a tasting menu (of six or nine courses) could experience dishes like coral caviar, duroc pork belly with black truffle and Australian wagyu beef. 676 North St. Clair Street; trurestaurant.com.
For the Eyes: La Colombe d'Or is an iconic restaurant-turned-museum. Situated in St. Paul de Vence, one of the oldest medieval towns on the French Riviera, the restaurant and hotel started in 1920 as a café bar that drew artists, writers and musicians from the surrounding area. Writer Rudyard Kipling and poet and screenwriter Jacques Prevert used to convene under the property's fig trees. Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse were frequent customers and often settled their bills with artworks rather than money. Many decades later, La Colombe d'Or has amassed an impressive collection of fine art, with both building and garden brimming with works by Italian figurative artist Amedeo Modigliani, French Modernist Pierre Bonnard, Belarusian Expressionist Chaïm Soutine, American sculptor Alexander Calder and others.
For the Palate: The restaurant offers elegant Provençal fare, with classic items like rack of lamb and chicken fricassee with cream and morels. If you go when the weather is warm, reserve (months in advance) a table in the garden where you can eat while contemplating Fernand Leger's ceramic mural, framed by ivy.06570 St. Paul de Vence, France; la-colombe-dor.com.
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