Zimmermann’s Lübecker Hanse, Kolk 3-7, Lübeck.
Photos © Jan-Erik Nilsson, Cheryl M. Cordeiro for CMC, 2009
Walking distance from the Marktplatz of Lübeck, Germany, right in the middle of the An der Undertrave and An der Obertrave, about a hundred meters into the Old Town or the Kolk, you’ll find one of the most romantic coves of the city. The buildings in this historic spot are conserved in their original form from the Medieval times. It is here, along the narrow, charming cobbled streets of the Old Town that you’ll find Zimmermann’s Lübecker Hanse, a restaurant with warm dark wooden interiors and service captains that will bend the menu backwards for you, if you so wish it.
Kolk, a cozy part of the city with heritage merchant houses.
The restaurant is located along the same street as the city’s Theater Figuren Museum, a puppet museum that houses more than a thousand theatre pupppets from 3 continents. Puppets from Europe, Africa and Asia are displayed and more impressive, they have been collected from different centuries.
A few meters ahead from Lübecker Hanse is the Theater Figuren Museum (TFM).
Just a quick note and digression from the Lübecker Hanse to the theatre puppet museum across the street; the puppets on display were fantastic to behold, everything from glove and finger puppets, to stick puppets and marionettes. Shadow figures, the kind that I’ve become familiar with whilst growing up in Southeast-Asia were also on display.
400 year old merchant houses line this street, where the Lübeck Theater Figuren Museum is found.
What I found most interesting with the puppets was how the puppets reflected each country and its culture in its make, with culture specific facial features, clothes and expressions, where it is known today via behavioural research that facial expressions are hardly global in nature, even though we are all humans. Chinese theater puppets were more than distinct and distinguishable in dress, make-up and style of make, from an Italian carnival puppet, and African stick puppets, I thought, came absolutely in their own world.
Outside the door, to the right, a display of handwritten menus from Zimmermann’s Lübecker Hanse.
When it comes to Zimmermann’s Lübecker Hanse that sits in this idyllic quarter of the medieval town, the first tantalizing eye candy is really the hand-written menus, written in German and displayed in a signboard against the rustic white painted walls, outside of the restaurant.
Front cover of the menu, Zimmermann’s Lübecker Hanse.
And if anyone wondered if the cozy tavernous interior of this restaurant is as warm and personal in service as the hand-written menus, then they would be delighted to know that, it is.
The weather was uncertain on the day of our visit, with a brief downpour that got us all drenched. What I really wanted was a steaming cup of hot chocolate when I first settled on a cushioned seat at the restaurant. But they had no hot chocolate listed on the menu.
A waiter with a warm and jovial personality came by to say hello to us at the table and it was at this moment of greeting that I took the opportunity to enquire after a cup of hot chocolate, to which the answer was, no, they didn’t have any. On second thoughts, he bounced off to the kitchen and came back smiling and said, yes! They had hot chocolate in the kitchen and a it would be out in just under a minute.
Inside, looking at the entrance of the restaurant, Lübecker Hanse, its pointed glass window indicative of its original Gothic architecture and history.
Hot chocolate and its availability is no doubt a small thing, but there was something so home-made about the hot drink when it arrived, like how I would make it for myself every morning, nothing too fancy in presentation, nothing too sweet, that made me understand that the people at this restaurant would do a lot to make guests happy.
Apt decorative puppets, reflecting its neighbours, the Theater Figuren Museum, across the street.
We ordered till our heart’s content that evening, and let ourselves be charmed by the puppet and wine bottle filled interior of the place. There was even a burgundy treasure chest filled with bottled drinks and menus in the middle of the restaurant to capture your interest.
Beer was served in the most delicate of tall glasses, where the bar had distinguished between glasses served to women and men. Women were served beer in a much slimmer, more delicate tall glass than their male counterparts.
Warmly lit interiors.
Together with the draping white table cloths and the warm yellow glows of candles reflecting off casually strewn glass beads on the table, we felt that few details had been overlooked by Zimmermann and his team to make people feel at home at his place, and we trusted the kitchen to do its work with our orders.
Fried lamb chops, served on a bed of long beans and fried breaded potatoes.
The menu in German didn’t do a thing to stop us from ordering exactly what we wanted. Each main meal is accompanied by a small bowl of salad on the side. My dinner that night – Grilled Lamb Chops. Presented on a bed of butter fried long beans and breaded potatoes, it was one of the most satisfying dinners I’ve had whilst dining out in a foreign country.
Together with Claus Zimmermann, owner of Zimmermann’s Lübecker Hanse.
As we were about to leave, the same jovial waiter stopped by and offered to accompany us to the door. As it turned out, he was Claus Zimmermann, the owner of the restaurant. His attention to details and sincere congeniality made us feel like we had just dined at the home of a good friend – what a splendid dining experience!
Zimmermann’s Lübecker Hanse opens at 12 noon for lunch and then again at 6 pm for dinner. You can look forward to daily and seasonal changes in the menu, depending on what the market has to offer that morning, that season.