Travel blog on one-of-a-kind travel experiences

Art and Cuisine at Saanen’s 16 Art Bar Restaurant


For the finale of Gstaad’s three-day Travel Blogger Events, they really knocked one out of the park. We had a chance to partake of a jewel of a restaurant well off the beaten path in Saanen’s historic village center. What we didn’t know beforehand: behind it was the Buchs restaurateur and catering family, renowned for how adept they are behind their pans…

Walk just a few steps from the Saanen train station, and you’ll stand in front of the16 Art Bar Restaurant in the historic village center’s quaintly picturesque “Mittelgässli”. The traditional wooden chalets leaning against each other along the narrow lane will have you cooing “Oh, my,” so picture-perfect is the look.

Box window with cork decorationThere, set back in a sunny courtyard, the equally picture-perfect 16 Art Bar Restaurant beckons to us. Even from a good distance away, seeing box windows filled with corks, the connoisseur will realize that something must be going down here, something very special must be up…

And, indeed, venturing a look inside, you will not only see wooden tables with white tablecloths, but works of art ranging from paintings and sculptures to bells that also seem to be part of the inventory.

Off to the side of the courtyard is the entrance to the bar. Ducking down a few steps, you enter something that might have been a cellar. Here there are more eye-catching artworks behind the bar and tables. It’s time now to quit being just a Nosy Nelly pressed up against the windowpane and instead bug the bustling restaurateur Simon Buchs for the background. And there you have it; his father, Herbert Buchs, is the one responsible for the many eye-pleasing artworks. Also, the collection of cow accessories is explained by the chalet-restaurant occupying what was once a bell foundry. No wonder then that Nik and Simon Buchs named their catering business “Art & Food”…

Upstairs, you encounter more lucky finds, such as designer lamps made of wood and large abstract compositions by Herbert Buchs. They also made space here for a designer kitchen during the renovation. Again, little wonder: even father Buchs has his publican’s license.

It’s really impressive, in every way…

Directly upon leaving the bar, you stroll past a romantic seating corner into the captivating restaurant. Here, too, artistic decoration helps create an extraordinary ambiance that instantly will set your mood to “good” on the way to “couldn’t be better.”

Restaurateurs and caterers Nik and Simon Buchs

There were ten of us travel bloggers, on the road for the above mentioned Travel Blogger Events, now taking our places at one of the large tables, warmly tended to by landlord Simon Buchs, experienced restaurateur by trade and Saanen native. Previously, for eight years, together with his brother Nik he had successfully operated a restaurant named Refuge l’Espace in a converted container on the glacier at 3,000 meters above sea level. In all kinds of weather, guests could wander to the foot of the glacier, to just before where the rock face drops away spectacularly into the valley. The prominent guests from Gstaad showed their appreciation for the adventure with numerous endorsements and pictures that circled the globe.

From our review of the 16 Art Bar RestaurantsChest pushed out, eyes half-closed and a swashbuckler’s smile playing in the corners of his mouth, Simon Buchs tells us how, when riding their “Schneetöff” (English: snowmobile) into the teeth of a storm, they would at times be unable to find the container restaurant and be forced to head back to the Scex Rouge mountain station. No doubt a capital idea, given the steep drop off the cliff up ahead…

Thanks to their Wasserngrat Restaurant the brothers to this day still have a connection with a kitchen range high up in the Alps, although this one is located 1,000 meters lower than before.

Anyway, that’s another story. Let’s head back to the valley, to Saanen’s 16.

Thai-style rice

Thai-style rice

“Funny,” but we were served a Thai dish, since our traveling blogger group was thought to be a Chinese tour group – at least during the reservation process. When we showed up, the surprise over our Western appearance and our fluency in Bernese German was fairly big and by then too late to make a difference. Since we were a well-traveled bunch and, first of all, very flexible, and, secondly, always interested in everything, we were happy to settle for the culinary artistry of Tan, the female Thai cook in the Saanen Boucherie’s (English: Butcher Shop) takeout kitchen. Here is our review of the aperitif party in that “grocery store” recently opened by the brothers a 100 meters farther up in the village.

What made it exciting, of course, was that we were expected to be Chinese and accordingly, the spiciness, to put it mildly, was off the chart – for us Westerners. We discreetly eyed, but prudently left untouched, the chili sauces generously offered on the side.

But even as we wiped away our sweat and tears from red faces, we did still manage to nod to each other appreciatively: it all tasted out of this world!

An Amigne de Vétroz by Serge Roh with just a hint of sweetness helped put out the fire. This Valois white was the perfect match and will live in memory as a salutary grace note…

Picturesque small alley in Saanen

Picturesque small alley in Saanen

Place setting in the 16 Art Bar Restaurant

Place setting in the 16 Art Bar Restaurant

Restaurant tables and wall art in the 16 Art Bar Restaurant

Restaurant tables and wall art in the 16 Art Bar Restaurant

Herbert Buchs, the father, created the art work.

Hanging sculptures and cow bells in back of the bar

Hanging sculptures and cow bells in back of the bar

16 Art Bar Restaurant
Mittelgässli 16
CH-3792 Saanen
Tel. +41 33 748 16 16
To the Website with “normal” menus.

Hours of operation:
Open daily from 5 p.m. Dark Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Big thanks to restaurateur Simon Buchs and his team for the generous invitation! And sincere thanks to Kerstin Sonnekalb and Antje Buchs of Gstaad Saaneland Tourism for organizing these Travel Blogger Events so rich in impressions!


About Author

Walter Schaerer’s extensive background in the travel industry, passionate enthusiasm for photography and a firm belief that luxury destinations can also be affordable; were some of the main factors that motivated him to create the travel blog In his day job Walter is an online marketing manager based out of Zurich, Switzerland.

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